The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.
"Because loving someone doesn’t mean needing them to be what you want them to be or swaddling them in bubble wrap so they can’t move. It means them knowing, deep down inside of their heart, you’re going to be there to hold them when they fall and celebrate when they fly."
Second chance stories and broken MC's are my jam. And let me tell ya, Rhys Ford knows how to write both -- I was in reader heaven the whole time I was reading Rebel.
While the romance didn't seem to be the primary focus, here, the UST was boiling over. Both Gus and Rey wanted each other, even if they didn't really know how to overcome all the hurt from past actions. And there was a lot of hurt and a lot of anger -- my heart broke for all of it.
August "Gus" Scott is more than a little broken. His childhood was filled with violence and he grew up in the system after his mother and twin brother died. Everyone wrote him off as 'not worth the trouble' because of his mother and her issues. It broke my heart, just how many people failed him when they should have been protecting him. Should have been advocating for him.
Rey Montenegro comes from a good family, though he's been through his share of trauma. He messed up three years ago by doing what nearly everyone else in Gus's life had done -- he threw Gus away. Communication was not their strong suit back then and Rey screwed up and ended it. A decision he regrets to this day, because he might not have realized it back then, but he loves Gus with everything, and he wants to make things right.
As the blurb mentions, Gus has made his share of questionable decisions, and one of those decisions led to him having a son. He wants to be a dad to the boy, but Gus is scared that he will fail spectacularly. He has a support system, though, and once he meets his son, Chris, he is smitten. I was thankful that Gus really wanted to do right by his son and his son's mother. I was also very happy that there was absolutely no baby-mama-drama. Both Jules and her parents wanted Gus to have a relationship with Chris. They advocated for him -- which is something no one ever did, when he needed it as a child.
In fact, the cast of secondary characters was fantastic, here. It's a collection of blood related family and found family who really gave a damn about one another. Bear, Ivo, Luke, and Mace are all people I really want to know more about. I want them all to have a story and I want them all to get their happy ending.
The angst level is fairly high, in Rebel, the steam is low to moderate, and the UST is off the charts. I loved Gus and Rey's HEA, too. It filled me with hope and love for these guys and their future together.
Rebel is about second chances. It's also about family (both blood and found). It's about healing and learning that you are worthy of love and happiness.
ARC of Rebel was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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