Butterfly Tattoo
by Deidre Knight, contemporary (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-134-6


Hold it, folks, Deidre Knight may be more well-known for her paranormal romances, but Butterfly Tattoo is a down-to-earth contemporary romance with not one spaceship in sight. That's not to say that you shouldn't read this story, however. If you do, you may discover a different side to this author's writing style, because this one is a tearjerker with a touch of romantic suspense.

Once upon a time, Rebecca O'Neill was an actress. A near-death encounter with an armed stalker changed all that. Scarred from the incident both physically and mentally, she now pops pills (obtained legally, of course) and works behind the scenes as a development executive for a production house. It is during a power blackout that she meets Michael Warner, an electrician whose easy flirtation causes her heart to beat a little faster than usual. Well, Michael has his issues too. After losing his long-time partner (yes, Michael's late lover was a guy) to a drunk driver, he is trying to get his act together for his daughter, but it isn't easy. When Andie, the daughter, ends up bonding with Rebecca, complications occur because of not only their emotional issues but also Rebecca's insecurities with regard to the degree of Michael's affections for her. After all, he was in a gay relationship with a guy for over a decade, so you can't blame a woman for wondering how they are going to make this relationship work, no?

Butterfly Tattoo alternates between first person narration from Rebecca and Michael, and this is where I encounter my biggest problem with this story. I can't tell apart the "voices" of the two characters, so the switch from chapter one to chapter two has me momentarily disoriented. While I have no problems with first person point of view in general, this is one story where I wish that the author had settled for an omnipresent third person point of view. Even when I realize what is happening, I still get momentarily disoriented now and then because I am so absorbed in following one character's point of view, sometimes I don't even notice that I have jumped to a new chapter until a few seconds later when I go, "Hey, wait a minute, this sentence seems odd..."

I'm afraid I can't tell you how authentic Michael is as a bisexual character if we are to compare him to a bisexual in real life, but I can tell you that this story reels me in once I get over the initial disorientation caused by the point of view changes and doesn't let go even once. I would have never guessed from reading Ms Knight's lighthearted paranormal romances that she is capable of portraying such raw and anguished angst on a page without going too blatantly sentimental or manipulative. Andie, that kid, could have been a creepy manipulative plot device in another story by a different author, but here she comes off as a pretty realistic character. As for Rebecca and Michael, well, they are brimming with angst and all kinds of grief, but their relationship is a heartbreakingly tender and beautiful one here.

Butterfly Tattoo is a great tearjerker of a love story, but for me, it is also a revelation, since I've in the past always found this author's paranormal romances to have a degree of simplicity in their portrayal of emotions that is tad too Carebear-like for me. Here, however, she demonstrates that she can pull out all stops and portray heartbreak and healing of broken souls in ways that have me feeling simultaneously drained and exhilarated at the same time.

Were not for the too-similar "voice" in the first person narrations, this one would have easily been a keeper for me.

Rating: 86


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