Review for Ink Illusions by Val Kovalin
As a gay man, Aaron never dreamed he'd end up in Houston, Texas, helping a female friend raise her child. Then he learns that the child's father has just been released from prison. Will Travis threaten Aaron's new family? To find out, Aaron conceals his identity and meets Travis during the chaotic splendor of Mardi Gras, when no one is what he seems.
Travis is ruthless when it comes to locating his child. Otherwise, he's not the criminal Aaron expected. Aloof and intuitive, Travis works as a tattoo artist. The intricate tattoos on his body celebrate his commitment to Asatru, a Norse pagan religion. Meanwhile, Aaron is his polar opposite, a talkative Jewish sales rep from Las Vegas, who never misses a chance to have fun.
What they have in common is neither man can turn down a fight. Neither can resist their affair, which turns into an intensely erotic struggle as each seeks to master the other. As their lust deepens to love, Aaron knows he must tell Travis the true reason they came to meet. Meanwhile, he fears that the darkness inside Travis's soul may lead the man to break the law and end up back in prison...
"...Val Kovalin introduces the readers into the world of Mardi Gras, Norse paganism, and even some Viking mythology....Breathtaking descriptions and flawed characters make INK ILLUSIONS a great read...I liked Aaron. I understood his dilemma in wanting to protect the little girl he loved and his growing feelings for Travis...Travis I loved. He was so misunderstood and really a softy who’d learned from his mistakes... filled with flawed characters and great love scenes." -- Layne, You Gotta Read Reviews
...Travis grabbed Aaron’s hand and led him down a short hallway to the bedroom. Enough light shone in from the living room to illuminate the wide bed set in a boxy wooden frame. Aaron expected a tangle of sheets, but it looked smooth, topped with a plaid blanket stretched tight and brushed free of wrinkles. He stopped Travis at the foot of the bed.
“Wait,” he said. “I’d better ask the question.”
“You mean—supplies?” Travis kissed his lips.
“No, the other question.”
Travis looked puzzled as he toed off his shoes and socks. “What?”
“You know—the past sexual history question.” Aaron watched as Travis’s eyes widened. “Don’t worry. I don’t have anything you need to worry about catching.”
“Yeah, same here. I don’t have the paperwork, but I will. I’m glad you said something because my brain shut off a while back.” Worry darkened Travis’s eyes. “Hey, I hope you’re not suggesting we just… I mean, we’re still going to use condoms, right?”
“Absolutely,” Aaron said.
Travis gave a big smile, full of relief and joy. “Let’s do it!”
He threw himself backwards on the bed…and let out a startled shout as the firm surface turned liquid, sloshing beneath him. He groped for a handhold as the mattress sent him rolling back and forth under Aaron’s incredulous gaze.
“You forgot you have a waterbed?” Aaron struggled not to laugh.
“Whoa, sorry!” Travis said. “Always catches me by surprise when I do that.”
He lay spread-eagled, trying to stabilize the mattress. In the low light, his face looked flushed, his pale hair standing up in spikes. His jeans, unzipped and yanked open, revealed the clear outline of his hard-on straining against his briefs.
Aaron stood over him, staring in open pleasure as Travis’s undulating body rode the pitching mattress. Travis wore tightie-whities, and the stretchy material left nothing to the imagination. It almost couldn’t contain his erection. The heavy tip of his cock leaked, dampening the fabric in a translucent patch. Finally, Travis lay flat, having forced the mattress motionless.
“Damn.” Travis’s voice shook. “The way you’re looking at me…”
He lifted his hips with care, sliding off his jeans. His big hand drifted up to adjust the angle of his cock. The flushed head pushed out from his elastic waistband, glistening and looking big as a plum. Travis choked out a laugh and stuffed it back inside.
“What a tease!” Aaron stripped to his shorts and climbed on the mattress. He and Travis rolled together as he worked the briefs down around Travis’s knees, tearing the fabric in his haste. “So sexy…”
Travis lay atop Aaron, propped on his elbows and one knee. His erection pressed heavy and full against Aaron’s stomach, and Aaron threw back his head on the mattress, groaning in delight. He imagined that big cock sliding between his lips. Or sinking into his ass, making him cry out with the overwhelming pleasure-pain of being stretched and filled. His mouth went dry with lust. “You’re hung like a horse.”
Travis paused with his mouth on Aaron’s neck. “What? Really?”
“Get a condom,” Aaron said. “Get inside me now!”
Travis lunged for the bedside table, and the mattress rolled with his motion. He retrieved a fistful of foil-wrapped condoms, which spilled across the blanket. He groped for one as Aaron pulled his T-shirt up around his neck.
A phantasmagoric tattoo blazed on Travis’s back, a huge tree centered over his spine with its roots at his hips and its topmost branches fanning across his broad shoulders. No leaves ornamented the tree, throwing the focus on the vigorous three-dimensional quality of its bark and branches.
“What is this?” Aaron asked, amazed.
“Yggdrasil,” Travis said. “The World Tree.”
The tree looked intricate and alive, inked in shades of gray and black. Norse heathen images appeared between its branches—wolves, warriors, mountains, ravens, and ships—in subtle increases in color, mostly steel blue with glints of green.
“Aaron,” Travis said his name for the first time, pleading.
“Look at it later.”
“Take off the T-shirt,” Aaron said. “I want you naked...”