Book Review by Rita: High Contrast, by Tess Bowery

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High Contrast, by Tess Bowery
Series: Evolution Ink, Book 1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


The deepest scars aren’t the ones that show.

Jacob Shain is your average member of Generation Screwed. He has a boring internship, no cash flow, and a tiny NYC apartment he has to share with Ethan, his much-cooler, tattoo-artist twin brother. Not to mention his love life is DOA. At least, until his brother’s shop hires on a new piercer, and Jacob’s humdrum life takes a turn for the weird.

Cody Turner is gorgeous, funny and kind—everything Jacob wants in a boyfriend. Except for the way he refuses to talk about his past, or where he lives, or anything about his personal life.

When Ethan is arrested while on a mission of mercy, the reason Cody is so tight lipped comes to light. And while Jacob and Cody fight to understand the depth of their feelings for one another, the police dogs catch their scent. So does the local mob.

Now Jacob has to make the hardest choice of his life: stay safe like a good boy, or dive headfirst into a world he barely understands…and hope Cody is there to break his fall.

Product Warnings:
Contains a good boy who wants to be bad, a bad boy who longs to be good, bodies that are canvases for living art and high-speed chases with police dogs.


M/M Romance
Interfaith Relationship (Jewish Hero)
Friends to Lovers
Medical Marijuana/Pot Smoking


Tattoo shop stories are my jam so I jumped at the chance to read High Contrast. Bowery is a new to me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m pleased to say that this was a fun book to read. The story revolves around Jacob, the comic book and movie loving, gamer geek. Jacob’s much cooler twin Ethan is part owner of Evolution Ink where Jacob finds a tight-knit group of friends, including the gorgeous and mysterious new piercer, Cody.

If I didn’t like Jacob so much I’d be vying for a place in Cody’s heart. I wouldn’t want to break up how sweet Jacob and Cody are together but seeing them get to know each other had me swooning. Jacob thinks the sexy new guy is out of his league which is so relatable because we’ve all had a crush we thought would never even notice us. I read the first half of the book with a goofy smile because of Jacob’s clumsiness and nervous butterflies whenever he’s around Cody. I was hooked from this alone but when they started quoting lines from Monty Python I knew there was no way I wouldn’t love this story.

Cody may be one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read. I adore him. He’s had a rough past and he’s really good at dodging questions about it. I admired his will to work hard and do whatever it takes to move forward with his life in a positive way, and I relished seeing him learn to trust again. He likes Jacob but he knows that he has to straighten his own life out before he can be with anyone. He’s also very passionate about his job; I especially liked his attitude towards body modification:

“I think of it more as opening the door for someone to look like what they always were. A lot of this stuff is so personal, like epiphanies and life milestones – and I get to be a little part of that. I know this is going to sound weird, but…I like making people’s outsides match their insides.”

Something I didn’t care for is that the humor and banter is carried through the entire book even when they find themselves in serious trouble. The slap-happy attitude took away from what could’ve been a nail-biter of a situation and it pulled me out of the story. I think I would’ve been okay with keeping the jokes as long as I was able to see that they were at least a little bit worried that the worst could happen. There’s also some repetition that could’ve been edited out to make the subplots flow together better. I’m super sensitive to this, though, so it could be something other readers won’t even notice.

That said, I still really liked this cast of characters and I felt all the love for them when they banded together to help each other out. I was calling them the “Body Mod Avengers” in my head because they were always willing to step up for one of their own, no questions asked. They’re like a family and I was so happy to see Jacob and Cody welcomed into their little group. I appreciated getting to see Jacob become more confident on his own, but also accepting the fact that he can rely on these people to have his back in times of need.

All in all, I think this was a cute, and fairly angst free read. I’m looking forward to who will be featured in the next book and hoping to check in with Jacob and Cody as well. All the heart emoji’s for those two. I recommend High Contrast, for sure!


Tess_headshot1maskTess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother’s knee. Now let loose on a computer, she’s spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.’

Follow Tess:
Website / Email / Twitter / Facebook / Tumblr / Goodreads

You can buy High Contrast from:
Samhain Publishing

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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