Beautiful Ink By Nicole Reed
Beautiful Ink by Nicole Reed
I’ve read many books that have at their heart the world of the ubiquitous Motorcycle Club but this one was different and the reason it was different was due to Four Little Words – and those unfortunately were “Based on True Events”
That fact and that fact alone, makes this book so much more than a mere story – it is someone’s history and that history deserves to be heard.
Born into the unforgiving world of The Hell’s Highwaymen MC, Helen (also known as Keller) is the daughter of a founding member and VP.
Following her mother’s death, Helen and her little sister, fall victim to her father’s club centred ways and a succession of belligerent and pathetic women. The current incarnation is a particularly nasty piece of work that seems to have it in for Helen and makes no attempt to hide her contempt for her.
Following yet another run in with her for no reason, Helen runs off and makes her way to the only place she feels safe – her friend Holden.
Holden is the only son of the club President and the two of them have been inseparable most of their lives. Helen loves him like a brother but the forces around them have other ideas.
Tragedy strikes that night when a fire, strips Helen of everything and everyone she holds dear to her and leaves her in the care of Ward and Sage (the President and his wife). Never having been entirely comfortable within the bosom of the MC’s club – Helen grows up learning that she needs to keep what she sees and hears to herself but all that changes in a split second when her world veers into realm of the downright terrifying and despite his honourable intensions, Holden becomes the epitome of everything she has come to despise.
Holden is the president in waiting for the club – he will eventually inherit the Presidency from his father but until then his Dad rules the club with ruthless determination and no-one not even Holden is exempt from his wrath.
Summer vacation leaves Helen with time on her hands and no-one to spend it with – she hates her life, the club and her home and wants nothing more than to escape but the club has one rule
“ Blood in and Blood out” and with no money and nowhere to go – she is trapped by circumstance and birth.
Visiting one of the club members at his Tattoo shop in town, Helen is fascinated by the work on display – particular an angel that reminds her of her mother. Diamond takes her under her wing and offers her an apprenticeship – teaching her everything she needs to know – but Helen has skill and quickly picks it up and develops a reputation for her work.
Working at Screaming Ink affords Helen the opportunity to save for her escape.
Holden is a few years older than Helen and having left school at 18 without completing his education he sets about working in his father/club’s garage- but he has one thing on his mind and that is to become a prospect and make his way in the Club. For as long as he can remember his future has been an open book – join the club, make it up the ranks and eventually replace Ward and all of this with Helen as his Old Lady.
There is one fly in that jar of ointment – Helen has a completely different perspective on life and the club plays no part in it.
Holden knows that she wants to escape the club but to protect her he pleads with her to say nothing, if not for her then for him. He loves her and deep down I think he is hoping that she will grow to love him the way the same way.
Holden gets put in prison for a short period but while inside his priority is still Helen, it’s a shame that other club members have a different way of looking after her and when a fellow student gets a little too friendly the consequences are extreme and finally Helen reaches her limit – she knows she has to get away.
When Holden returns into the bosom of the club, forces try to keep them apart – including his dad but she is his life and he will do anything to protect her, even if it means giving her up. It was impossible not to feel an element of sympathy for Holden, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t but on this occasion, he was good to his word and helps her to get away, but not without a few rules for her to live by.
- She has to keep moving- he knows his father will try to hunt her down.
- She can never speak to anyone about what she has seen and heard about the club
- She must never practice tattooing again
But the real kicker :
- Should she ever be found and returned to the club – then has to agree to be his and his alone from that day on.
For her freedom she believes that those are rules that she can live by – and with a little help from the boy she has loved almost all her life, she breaks out on her own.
Life on the run is hard but she copes with the constant looking over her shoulder and incessant fear that hangs around her. Having changed her name – she now is known by the name Keller but she is breaking one of the rules – she has always been unable to give up the one thing she does best – Tattooing.
She finds herself working in a little tattoo parlour and developing solid friendships for the first time in her life outside the club. But Keller’s past is just that, it is her past and she remains completely guarded with those around her but they respect her and let sleeping dogs lie.
Life is ticking along and while she knows that she really should be thinking of moving on – she likes it where she is and when a stranger ends up in her chair looking for his first tattoo – her life takes a serious turn of events and all reason disappears in a cloud of love and lust.
Vin is an enigma, he has a body built for sin and a heart of gold and Keller is inexplicably drawn to him.
Tattoo finished she believes that he has just walked out of her life but he has other ideas and with a slow hand he sets about reeling her in.
Neither of them are entirely forthcoming with details but they both seem happy with that and as the story develops, so does the love between the pair of them and for the first time in her life – Keller knows that she is truly loved and that after all she has been through – she loves him in return.
But does this realisation come at a cost, it certainly comes at the wrong time – because her past has just caught up with her and when he returns to her apartment one morning she find Holden waiting for her – ready to take her back to the club – her life on the run has not been what she thought and her relationship with Vin is not what she thinks it is either. Holden is more than happy to point out her mistake but he has to be the one to take her back because that way he may just be able to save her life.
Perfectly well aware that things are not going to end well when Ward and the others get their hands on her, Holden has managed to get his father to agree that he will be the one to deal with her punishment when she gets back and OMG is it brutal – it was gut wrenching to read – and despite what Holden though he was doing for the best, he may as well have just shot her because he can finally see that he has lost her anyway.
Helen lives with one hope; that perhaps – just perhaps Vin will come and save her?
This book is beautiful but broken and it will leave you emotionally distraught and at a loss as to how to reconcile some of the situations.
Helen( Keller) was the kind of character that makes you take a good long look at yourself and makes you thankful for what you have in your own life because her life was not living – hell it is was barely even existing!
But Holden – he has me torn in two – 90% of the time he seemed like a good guy and I do believe that he loved Helen but when the club comes into the equation I found myself doubting his sanity because it was the only way I could understand his actions.
He had been brought up to believe that he had it all when really he only had all the bits he didn’t want – because without Helen is was all for nothing and eventually he had to see that he never really had her. I wanted to love him, but in the end I think I just felt sorry for him.
"You stole my entire world and I'm not sure how to live in it anymore."
This book will stay with me for a long time – it makes me thankful for everything I have and for the life I have been able to carve for myself with the love and support of those around me.
An intensely emotional, powerful, harrowing novel – the author is to be commended for her work.
“It’s not just ink….it’s art” …. And this story is art of the highest order.
Rating : Well I’ll be damned if I can put a figure on it because Five stars is just not enough.