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  • Angsty f/f with a marshmallow core

    New Ink on Life is an f/f romance that manages to be both sweet and gritty, harrowing and hopeful. Before we go further, please note that if reading about characters in cancer remission will be difficult for you, you may not want to continue with this review (or the book, naturally). Cassie shows up at MJ's queer tattoo shop one day looking for a place to finish her apprenticeship and they immediately butt heads. MJ is a surly butch woman who has recently been screwed over by her former romantic and business partner. Cassie is more femme and has spent her life being polite and sweet and not standing out. When she finished her breast cancer treatment and went into remission, she decided to follow her passion instead of doing everything she thought she should. (She has an excellent mom who is totally behind this.) Cassie apprentices with the same woman that MJ learned from and when that woman passed away, also from breast cancer, she went to find MJ. Cassie has had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy and has put her life in something of a holding pattern as she waits for her five-year scan. The two of them come together when they strike a deal - MJ will teach Cassie to care less about what other people think of her and Cassie will teach MJ to be a better businesswoman. Part of that is what you read in the blurb - marketing and planning - but a lot of it is how to curb her temper and not lash out when she's frustrated. Both women are fully drawn, no caricatures or stereotypes. I was worried about a big family blow-up in a scene where MJ goes home because her father (whom she does not speak to because their relationship soured when she came out) is hurt on site at his construction business, but Davids does something I didn't expect and that made me cry on a public bus headed for NYC. If you are able to read a book in which cancer plays a pretty heavy role, this is an angsty and sweet (I don't know, go with it) f/f romance that I would happily recommend. Content Warnings: Cancer, grief, queer-hostile family, friends who died of cancer Suzanne received an advance review copy from the publisher, then procrastinated and read it on audio.

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    5 person found this review helpful

    5 people found this review helpful

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Nice debut book from Jennie Davids.

    MJ Flores is the owner of a tattoo shop in Portland, Oregon. Cassie is a tattoo artist that searches out MJ to help complete her apprenticeship. These two characters could not be more different from each other. While MJ is brash and doesn't give any thought to what people think, Cassie is reserved and overly worried about others' opinions. I was uncomfortable with the setting (tattoo shop) and characters (tattoo artists). Completely not my scene at all. While I can appreciate ink on other people, I do not have any tattoos myself. The author painted a picture of what I stereo typically perceive those establishments be like. Rebellious, out there, judgmental, and egotistical owners and artists. I have always wanted to get a bar code on my inner wrist with my dad's date of birth and date of death. Concept: Property of my father. But I've always felt I would be laughed out of the shop. This book only enforced that thinking. All of this was not to knock the setting/book. It was to really imply that the writer did a great job of setting the stage and characters. As all of that was pivotal for the growth that happens throughout. Yeah, MJ isn't likable in the beginning. But I don't think she is supposed to be. I was able to feel very connected to both of the main characters as a result of their individual backstories that impact who we are introduced to in the beginning. I found it so satisfying to see how a sex only arrangement evolved. There was an underlying theme of hope as both MJ and Cassie begin to see each other as more than that. And there wouldn't be a great payoff if you didn't have a good dose of angst. And this delivers. As this story has a huge focus on a non romantic sexual entanglement, you can expect that there are plenty of intimate scenes. I'm not the biggest fan of that but they were all well written and got the temperature rising. I didn't even skim read or skip any of it, which is saying something! I didn't care for the repetitiveness off the phrase 'blissed out.' There are plenty other descriptive ways to describe that. And I feel like there are some family characters and story lines that were just kind of left dangling out there (Or at least I expected more.) But overall this was a good debut novel. I recommend for those who love romance, tattoos, girl fights, old lady sweaters, and hate cancer. <i>I received an ARC from the publisher for an honest review</i>

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    4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Slow burn "Opposites Attract" Romance

    New Ink on Life is the debut novel of author, Jennie Davids. It is set on Thorn & Thistle tattoo shop with fiercr girlboss owner MJ and her shy apprentice Cassie. Cassie left her career as an executive assistant to pursue her art, and be a tattoo artist. It was a life change after her survival of breast cancer, which was very brave. I would really want to like this book, but something about how rude and mean and basically unlikeable MJ is. Seeing her POVs does not help. It's hard to push through reading a promising book because of an unappealing character. We're all for strong women in books, but strong is different from mean and rude. I have to admit, I only read this for Cassie and her story. I am opting out of continuing this series. May be a great read for some, but not for me.

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    0 person found this review helpful

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