This is the first review I’ve done for one of my Book Jar picks! If you’re wondering what a Book Jar is, check out this post!
NOTE: This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!
Let me just start out by saying that I didn’t go into this book with the highest expectations. Probably something to do with the cover and awesomely goofy title. I was expecting a run of the mill good-girl-meets-bad-boy story with all of the familiar tropes, and it turned out to be so much better! Don’t get me wrong, there are a fair number of stereotypical elements, but the story still managed to break away from the norm and surprise me a bunch of times.
The Mad Tatter by J.M. Darhower is a standalone contemporary romance novel about a tortured former street artist named Reece. Graffiti was always his passion, but finally being caught by the police and the struggle of paying his dues has broken him down. Now he’s working in Wonderland, a tattoo shop owned by his friend and mentor, who lovingly refers to him as Hatter, the Mad Tatter. Enter Avery, a beautiful fourth year Julliard student who is as drawn to Reece as he is to her.
Here are some of the ways this story remarkably breaks the mold:
– The whole book is from Reece’s perspective, which was greatly refreshing! Finally a tortured artist story in which I don’t have to hear the heroine’s inner monologue about trying to change him or convince him he’s worthy of love.
– No innocent blushing virgins being introduced to the wonders of sex! While Avery is described as a tattoo virgin, and a “harsh realities of life” virgin, she’s definitely not a sexual one, which is so much more realistic. Sex is such a huge part of a relationship, I much prefer to read about a more balanced sexual power dynamic.
– No endless fight to label, change, or push the relationship too far. This is the story of two people who are drawn to each other seemingly without any ulterior motives. Everything progressed between them naturally, without the need for a bunch of hard-drawn relationship landmarks, and neither Avery nor Reece had any desire to change the other person.
– No needless or drawn-out drama! While the progression of their relationship wouldn’t work for everyone, it works for them, and they aren’t hung up by frustratingly placed mini-dramas. They actually communicate with each other! Not perfectly, but enough to avoid the abundant romance novel mishaps that are constantly arising in other books. Don’t get me wrong, this story does have it’s own share of drama, but in my opinion it’s of the constructive variety.
– Reece has a 5 year old daughter who never ONCE comes to harm or unhappiness for the sake of furthering the story. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the Little Miss because that’s part of the joy of the story, but I thought her presence was very well written. It actually acted as a draw between Avery and Reece rather than yet another source of drama…
Aside from the ways I enjoyed it breaking the mold, this story had plenty of other elements that drew me in, as well. Tattoos, for one, are a constant presence, and I loved the atmosphere of Wonderland. I loved the mix of ballet and graffiti. It inspired the artist in me to get up and work on something I’m passionate about. To top it all off, I really liked both Reece and Avery and I was rooting for them the whole time, both together and in their own personal goals.
All in all, this is a relationship story. One steeped in art and real-world consequences. While it’s not a sunny, cheery story, it was still sweet and wonderful in many ways. It’s the kind of story that was a pleasure to read and it reminds me of ways to be grateful for the people and relationships in my own life. I don’t know if this is a typical representation of J.M. Darhower’s work or not, but I’m certainly interested in reading more from her!