Angel's Ink
Jocelynn Drake
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Buy *Angel's Ink: The Asylum Tales* by Jocelynn Drake

Angel's Ink: The Asylum Tales
Jocelynn Drake
Harper Voyager
352 pages
October 2012
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Angel's Ink is the first book in the Asylum Tales series, but it also works as a stand-alone. The two main story lines are resolved, but many minor subplots are left open. The series is set in a world where supernatural species--elves, trolls, vampires, and minotaurs--live openly. In fact, the world is ruled by witches and warlocks who are feared for their power and ruthlessness.

Gage Powell owns a tattoo parlor named the Asylum and is well-known for his artistry, as are his two employees. Trixie is a gorgeous elf with a mysterious past. Gage has been attracted to her since she first came to the parlor, but because of his past he knows that he cannot get involved with her. Bronx is a huge troll, and even though his size and strength are often used to calm down angry clients, he is actually gentle guy. In addition to creating tattoos, they can mix magical potions into the ink if the client wants a tattoo with a power--like, say, a leprechaun's hair for good luck.

Gage has a dark past of his own that neither Trixie or Bronx know about: he was born a warlock. He was taken from his family when he was seven years old and given to a powerful warlock teacher. His time with the warlocks was unpleasant, and he finally managed to escape. The warlocks assigned a guardian to makes sure that Gage does not use his magic except for self-defense. Gage's old teacher, Simon, almost killed him before and is now after his blood.

In addition to Gage's former teacher wanting to kill him and unsatisfied clients, Gage has a bigger problem. A young woman comes to the Asylum, dying of cancer and wanting a tattoo. Gage feels for her and agrees to tattoo angel's wings onto her back. When Gage is drawing the wing design, he can't resist adding special magical ingredients to the ink. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong.

Gage is loyal to his friends (to the point of overprotectiveness) and willing to help anyone he thinks deserves it. Even though Gage was raised among the warlocks, who think that they are the rightful rulers of the Earth, he doesn't look down on anyone because of their race. On the other hand, he has a quick temper and is impulsive; sometimes he has difficulty not using his magic. He thinks about others before himself, he keeps his past a secret and hasn't met his family in years in order to protect them. Trixie and Bronx are his closest friends, and he feels guilty for keeping his past a secret from them.

The narrative is fast-paced and features some surprising twists, and the setting and magic system are quite imaginative.. The main plot line does not depend on violence, which is refreshing. Author Jocelynn Drake incorporates some of the more common urban fantasy elements such as a courtship romance with a sex scene, but the romance is clearly a side plot.


Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Mervi Hamalainen, 2013

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