As Phalen Maddox walks into Cassie Williams’s coffee shop, he is enthused by her warm welcome since he’s been out of town on a case. Having lusted after her for some time, he’s glad when she decides to take things to the next level to satisfy her curiosity about BDSM. As Cassie opens up to him, Phalen is intrigued to learn Cassie feels her twin sister Allie didn’t die the way the police suspect and decides to investigate into the situation for her. Will his quest for the truth put Cassie in danger as the reality is far worse than ever imaginable?
Frances Stockton writes a brilliant romantic suspense romance incorporating BDSM flawlessly into its plotline in Ink Master. I adored the main characters, Cassie and Phalen, rooting for them to find what D/s means to them. Phalen is one formidable man—an ex-Army Ranger turned tattoo shop owner/private investigator. Cassie is well aware, from not only rumors circulating around town but from Phalen’s own mouth, that he’s an experienced Dominant who trains others interested in the lifestyle. Knowing he desires Cassie’s total sexual submission, she can’t help but be turned on by this very sexual man. Having come from a strict religious background and armed with the knowledge her twin was murdered by an abusive Dom, Cassie has a lot of emotional baggage that dissuades her from entering into any kind of relationship, let alone one dabbling in BDSM.
Phalen sure has his work cut out for him but wisely keeps their sexual banter to a minimum, letting Cassie make the decision to ultimately come to him. When circumstances bring her face to face with his D/s play, Cassie puts her fears aside and places her trust in Phalen to guide her in the BDSM world. You have to love a man who is so confident in himself that he doesn’t push all Cassie’s boundaries at once, allowing her to get comfortable with him, instinctively knowing when Cassie is ready to be more kinky. Phalen is a very demanding Master, bringing Cassie to sexual ecstasy in panty-melting D/s scenes, proving his excellent reputation as a Dom is well deserved. Soon into their exploration, Phalen declares his desire to be the only Dom Cassie will ever need, wanting a permanent commitment. Listening to the heartbreaking story of her twin’s death, he agrees that the official police explanation does not make sense and promises her he will find the truth. Digging into Allie’s life places Cassie’s life in danger, but Phalen shows he’s more than capable, with some help from friends and family, to help Cassie put closure on this awful tragedy.
From the opening chapters of Ink Master, I could tell Ms. Stockton has a story arc in play as secondary characters from previous books are re-introduced as well as new people who will hopefully get their own stories in the future. I can’t wait to return to this world as the intuitive Morgan finds love and to see if Alex Grant gets his own happy ending.