by Bernadette Gardner, paranormal (2008)
Ellora's Cave, $5.20, ISBN 978-1-4199-1439-3

Oh, that's an eye-catching cover, I must say. Bernadette Gardner's story delivers very well what the cover promises: a sexy story that makes an erotic fetish out of body art.

Makena Brady, at 29 and having just lost a boyfriend, decides that she is now free to get that tattoo she has always wanted. The fact that her ex-boyfriend disapproved of her getting a tattoo only makes her more determined to get one, of course. Ah, but SkIntense Body Art is not a usual tattoo parlor. Darq Stone, the co-owner of the place, has lusted after Makena the moment he spots her dithering outside the store. As she and Darq embark on an erotic affair, she has no idea that Darq is not what he seems to be. In fact, he may not even be human, heh.

Skin has a rather slow start that has me worried at first that the author is going to shove down a PSA about getting a tattoo down my throat. Still, having never considered getting a tattoo for myself and having only stepped once in a tattoo parlor to accompany a friend, I find the author's descriptions on the process of inking a tattoo most fascinating nonetheless. However, once the clothes fall off and Makena starts getting a really intimate look at the tattoos on Darq's body, that's when the sizzle starts to escalate into boiling point.

While the story is actually simple and straightforward and I personally feel that the paranormal elements could have been easily dispensed with without affecting the story too much, but the story works really well because of the evocative eroticization of the subject of tattoos. The characters are fine; nothing too deep, really, but they are likable enough.

There's really no simpler way for me to say this: this book works because damn, it's hot. If that sounds really shallow, well, hey, at least I've had fun.

Rating: 84

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