Ménage Review: Hellion – Rhys Ford

Hellion Book Cover Hellion
415 Ink Book 3
Rhys Ford
LGBT Romance
Dreamspinner Press
September 17, 2019

Ménage Review!

Hellion (415 Ink Book 3) By Rhys Ford


From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knows the tattoo artist is going to bring chaos to his neat, orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand, he’s not even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky, and arrogant, and Ruan wants no part of him.

Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.

For Ivo Rogers, life revolves around two things—his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care, but their brotherhood is tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he falls apart.

Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on how a man looks and acts. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have, but their clashing perspectives threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood, yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.


Review by Gloria Lakritz

Sr Reviewer for the Paranormal Romance Guild

Hellion is the 3rd Book in the 415 Ink Series, which I found an outstanding story to add to this series. An author with a broad scope of genres under her belt, Ms. Ford dazzles the reader with descriptions that satisfy the soul.

This series is about a Band of Brothers, brought together by such need, for the lost to have what most take for granted; family, and home. Bear, Gus, Mace, Luke and baby Ivo took years to finally live as family. Bear fought hard getting these young boys out of the system, going to court to make this happen.

He was lucky to rent a shop from a friend near the SF Wharf where he opened 415 Ink tattoo shop. Word of mouth about their good work brings business in slowly and now it supports them. They live in an old craftsman home, they all tinker to care for and now in book 1 and 2, two of the ‘brothers’ have found partners.

Book# 3 surprised me, I thought the author would give the older brother Bear a partner, but she has chosen Ivo, the baby, for this story and what sheer brilliance this book was. Ivo Rogers has been run through the system and felt he has never been enough for anyone to care, to want him for him. He has gone thru art school and all he has is his art and 415 Ink.

Ruan Nicholls is a SFPD Detective, and not a stranger to Ivo. Seven years ago, at 17, Ivo had snuck out of the house to go dancing at a local gay club. He was dressed in a short school girl skirt and 4 inch high red boots, He was attacked outside, leaving the club and defending himself he beat his attacker bloody. The police officer was Ruan Nicholls.

Seven years later Ivo is not 17 any longer, both of them meet again. Ruan, now a detective , just barely out of the closet, might not be ready for this beautiful, wild child. But, ohhhh the temptation.

Rhys, measures this love story with trust and food (food is one of her adorable go to places) along with Ivo’s need to be seen and accepted, pink or green or purple hair and all. Ruan, has been existing between work and work, with a side of work. Will he be able to let go of his old fears? Can he allow Ivo to be Ivo? Can he see and love Ivo for who he is as Ivo bares his soul to him?

This story is Rhys Ford at her best!


Reviewed by Melissa Brus

Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team

This is one of those books. The ones that you highlight the sentences that make you catch your breath. Those phrases that make you put the book down for a second and pause because they capture a sentiment so beautifully, you just need a moment to appreciate it. The ones that make it really hard to review because all your brain is saying over and over at the top of its mental voice is “READ THIS BOOK!” This is one of those books.

Hellion is not like the other books in the 415 series. The reader gets to spend a lot more time in Ivo and Ruan’s internal battles than any external issues they face. All the amazing characters are there, of course, and there are the fun cameos of people and places from other Rhys Ford books that we all love.

But the words! Seriously, the language and writing in this book just gave me goosebumps. These two men have issues that should make them NOT work. Ivo’s way of moving through the world is so diametrically opposite of what works for Ruan, and vice versa. Watching the two of them navigate these internal triggers is a more subtle, but no less fascinating than the best of romance. The teaser at the end for the next book was just gilding the lily!

I cannot recommend this book more. It is a beautiful book.

HE SAID – Ulysses Dietz

Review by: Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team

“It’s like trying to take a dog and show it how to live in a tree.”

This is surely the sweetest and least violent book by Rhys Ford in my memory. The third in the 415 Ink series is focused on the patchwork family of men who own a celebrated tattoo parlor on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

Ruan Nicholls is a thirty-something detective who suffers largely from a closeted past life, and a tendency to lose himself in his work. Seven years previously, as a uniformed officer, he dragged Ivo Rogers, a tall, angry teenage boy dressed in a skirt and red sparkly heels, away from an assault, thinking how much like he looked like a fallen angel. More recently, he happened to be at Ivo’s house to deliver bad news to one of his brothers. The boy, now young man, is stuck in Ruan’s mind.

Likewise, Ivo hasn’t ever forgotten the older cop who treated him with concern and respect when he was in trouble. When he shows up again, Ivo can’t help wondering…

The overarching story here is one of a group of damaged young men – in Ivo’s case a longtime victim of an imperfect foster care system – building a life in the face of a hostile and violent culture. Both Ivo and Ruan have different kinds of deep-seated issues, and each needs to find someone who can deal with their flaws and their quirks.

How do these two very different men achieve a new normal? Ford, rather than her usual mayhem, concentrates on conversations, inner thoughts, and personal struggles to let go of bad things in the past to make way for good things in the present. She gives us the low-down on Ivo’s family – adding more pieces to the complex puzzle she’s built up over the previous two volumes. Her characters are vivid and distinctive, almost always feisty and fiercely independent. There is a reverence for the art of tattoos in this series that both fascinated me and always felt alien to me – which makes this book a particularly fun read for any unfamiliar with tattoo culture.

At the end, there’s a nearly-cliffhanger twist that opens the door for the next in the series. I have mixed feelings about this, but was happy that it didn’t impede the narrative of this book. After all, an author has the right to hook her readers into the next installment, yes?

Hellion – PRG questions for the author:

Q=Food plays such a huge role in your stories. Is it conscious choice or do your characters tell you what they want for dinner?

A-I include foods because usually they’re indicative of the area or a culture. Oftentimes, it’s a way to introduce new things to some readers or insert familiar things to others. Also, I love to cook and it’s a great way to just share a meal with someone reading the book.

Q-Pick 3 characters from your different books to go to dinner with…where would you go? What would you order?..

A- Just three? Shit. Um… Miki, Kai, and Quinn. I think dim sum would be a good choice because that’s a kind of pick through a bunch of things and talk all the time kind of meal. Those are the best.

Q= Hellion was different. The story was more subtle but it packed a huge punch. Is it harder or easier to write a story without all those external factors and action to work with?

A-Hellion did come out differently than the others but it wasn’t hard once I figured out what the angle of it was. That took a bit. I wrote a good portion and then set it aside because it wasn’t working. I do this sometimes. Okay, I do this a lot. And when I come back to it, I can usually see where it went off the rails. Hopefully then I fix it.

Q-We all Knew Ivo’s story would be tough…….how did you know where you were going to take it….

A-I was actually surprised to discover as I explored Ivo’s character that he’s probably the most well-nurtured and stable of the brothers. Still, he has obstacles he needed to overcome but the reader meets him at a point in his life where he’s good with facing his challenges and the demon-fighting is pretty much done. Hellion became a story about self-image and self-worth. It was about talking and trying to work on things from the past as well as where to go in the future. It was also about not going into something with an idea of how someone is and you can fall in love with someone but still have to work to like some things. Or at least compromise. It was definitely a more delicate write.

Q-My husband and I adopted a Latino baby 23 years ago – and this is only relevant in that he has tattoos – but when I recently saw his tattoos, I wanted to say, “415 Ink didn’t do those.” So, tell me about the tattoos and that world into which these books give your readers insight. Is it just a plot device to give Ivo and his brothers a framework, or is it a metaphor?

A=The husband or the baby has tattoos? Because dude… *grins* Heh. I take it the tats are iffy? Or is it the style?

415 Ink really does provide a framework for their characters as much as it is about ink itself. Tattoos are about self-expression and making the right choices, as well as delving into a part of yourself and coming out the other side with a clear picture of who you are and what you want. Some people treat their bodies carelessly, much like their lives and others really look at what they want and seek out the best to wear a piece of themselves on their skin. It was also a way to explore how different inkers do their art and what that means and how they approach their craft. The skin is a very difficult canvas and to master that is incredible.

The shop is also about a gathering place, a foundation of their family. It’s where they gather and where they pull together to give their family a livelihood. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of like a farm or a cattle ranch. It will only succeed if all members of the family pull their weight equally, doing all they can and giving the best they’ve got at what they’re good at. For all the teasing the brothers do, the shop is their focus and they are all equals there.

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