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Thursday, April 2, 2015

'Brothers Ink' series by Sarah Mayberry

***This is a combined review of books 1 & 2 in Sarah Mayberry’s ‘Brothers Ink’ romance series***

I have a new favourite romance author and her name is Sarah Mayberry. I first discovered her via one of her Harlequin titles ‘Her Best Friend’ which I inhaled in a day, and from there I’ve been reading anything I can get my hands on from this Australian romance author. I have become quite the fangirl, to the point that I flipped out when I met her at the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention (ARRC) – and, yes, she is absolutely lovely! I’ve been reading her so much lately that I haven’t been able to keep pace reviewing the books of hers I’ve been reading. Hence, why I’m doing a mega joint-review of the first two books in her latest series …

‘Brothers Ink’ is her independent erotica/romance series – first book ‘Satisfaction’ was released February 2014, and second book ‘Anticipation’ has just been released, and Ms Mayberry was kind enough to send me a sneaky advance copy to review.

‘Brothers Ink’ is the name of a high-end tattoo parlour owned by Brazilian twins Rafael and Eddie Oliveira. ‘Satisfaction’ has us meeting Rafael at the same time as local bookstore owner, Maggie Hendrick who’s heard good things about what this sex-God can do for women in the bedroom. This is important to Maggie, who has never been sexually satisfied– neither with herself or partners – and she’s banking on this kinky tattoo artist being the key that unlocks her door … but in a comedy of errors, Maggie meets the wrong twin and offers him a temptation like no other.
 And while she was at it, damn herself for being unable to enjoy the seduction of a lifetime without getting emotionally involved. Frankly, she was a disgrace to the Sex and the City generation. 
Satisfaction, Brothers Ink book #1

‘Satisfaction’ is all about Maggie and Rafael – the more straight-laced of the Oliveira twins, who is still nursing a broken-heart after his long-term girlfriend up and left him. Maggie is the first woman to turn his head since Lena trampled all over him, and he’s surprised to find himself responding to her in a way that both scares and excites him.

Second book ‘Anticipation’ is all about the more outgoing twin, Eddie – who has quite the reputation for heartbreaking himself. Eddie doesn’t do commitment, which is bad news for his best-friend and Brothers Ink tattoo artist Blue Sullivan, because she’s been in love with him for years … but a life in and out of foster homes means that Blue’s not about to give her heart to a man who can’t commit, and she’s certainly not going to lose the only family she has left for a bedroom romp (no matter how earth-shattering it may be).

I love, love, love this series. It’s a fantastic balance of erotica and romance with some complicated back-stories adding fraught emotional dilemmas for the characters. I can tell you (having now discovered Mayberry’s extensive backlist) that that’s one of her real strengths – interesting and intense characterisation that has you totally rooting for these characters.

Both Maggie and Blue have their own hang-ups that stop them from accepting and believing Rafael and Eddie’s attraction to them … for Maggie, it’s a lifetime being the one responsible for all those around her (her mother’s cancer diagnosis when she was a child means Maggie is always running doomsday scenarios in her head). While the death of her parents, and her subsequent stays in foster homes, has resulted in Blue enforcing tall walls that guard her heart against further devastation.

“I have never done this with another woman. Ever. But I’m willing to acknowledge that I have a past. So do you.” 
“Not like yours. I don’t charm people into loving me and then abandon them.” 
“That’s right – you don’t even let them get close enough to get attached.” 
“Because I don’t want that.” 
“Sweetheart, you want that more than anyone I know.” 
Anticipation, Brothers Ink book #2

Rafael and Eddie are not without their emotional blockades and intense back-stories either. Both brothers suffered after the loss of their beloved little sister (who now occupies a place on their bodies, in the form of a tribute tattoo) and while polar opposites personality-wise, both men have had incidents in their pasts that they need to overcome in order to accept Maggie and Blue’s love into their lives … or, at least fight hard enough to convince both women to accept them.

I just fell head-over-heels for these characters, and even from ‘Satisfaction’ I loved the camaraderie and sense of family that Mayberry evoked at the Brothers Ink tattoo parlour. I understand there are more books coming in this series – and with Brothers Ink as the pivot-point, I can’t wait to read more characters stepping onto the scene, and finding out about secondary characters that appear in ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Anticipation’.

The ‘Brothers Ink’ series also balances romance and erotica perfectly. These characters have real heat and friction between them – for Maggie and Rafael it’s the meeting of strangers who have an instant attraction, while Blue and Eddie’s romance is built on the solid foundations of a friendship and frustrations of unrequited love. The next character to be explored in the series is pretty heavily hinted at in ‘Anticipation’, her story lined up … and I’ve got to say, I can’t wait to see how this once-antagonist is transformed in a book of her own.

I’ve really only recently discovered Sarah Mayberry, but she’s already climbed the ranks to be one of my favourite romance authors. Her ‘Brothers Ink’ series is a fantastic introduction to her writing – an electric blend of erotica and romance, with intense characters that’ll make you blush and swoon in equal measure.



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