by Jesse Pearl
Obsession is never just skin deep.
Sam Blanco’s greatest desire is to escape his abusive father and violent neighborhood the only way he can—by earning money as a tattoo artist for a street gang. He’s befriended their leader, the deadly Leo Reyes, and gained a measure of safety under their protection. But just when things are going right for the first time in Sam’s life, Leo’s girlfriend, Pilar Flores, walks in and requests a tattoo in an unusual location. Sam obliges, but the experience leaves them both reeling. Unable to focus for days, Sam finds himself craving Pilar’s touch, but she’s exactly the kind of trouble he doesn’t need.
Pilar Flores is her father’s daughter. Being the daughter of a drug lord is not an easy role to fill, but she aspires to live up to the title and make her father proud. But her father has no plans to allow her into the business, and Pilar hates being sidelined. She hates that Leo is away for days on end, and she especially hates being treated like an incompetent female by every man she sees. Except for Sam. She decides to take control of her life the only way she knows how—through seduction. But she’s not prepared for how eager and passionate a lover Sam is, or how deeply she’s drawn to him. Even though she knows their ill-fated affair can’t possibly end well…
“So you just leave the pictures in here until they’re done or what?” Benny asked, flipping through the loose-leaf leather-bound book that Sam always kept with him wherever he went.
“Yeah, if I’m finished working on them I might take them out, give them away or what not. But it’s hard to know when I’m done. Some take a while.”
Sam set out the pieces of his machine in the usual, methodical order to begin assembling it once his client arrived. Something niggled at the back of his mind, however—somewhere behind the image of Pilar tied to her bed, her sweet dimples challenging him to do exactly the thing he planned to do as soon as he finished his drawing.
“Motherfucker,” Benny muttered under his breath.
A hot rush of panic infused Sam at the same instant he realized what he’d done…or failed to do.
“Like this one?” Benny turned the sketchbook around.
Sam’s stomach lurched when he saw the detailed nude sketch he’d made of Pilar Sunday morning. He’d spent enough time rendering her face that there was no mistaking who she was.
“Tell me you just drew her face from memory on some other girl’s body.”
Sam was sure he had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he said, “Not exactly…”
Benny gaped at him then looked back at the drawing. After a second more of studying it he just shook his head.
“Man, you are something else. I seriously think you must have a death wish. Or one huge pair of cojones.”
Sam had lost the ability to speak. His brain frantically attempted to process the implications of his friend seeing the picture of Pilar. Fuck, fuck, fuck, this wasn’t supposed to happen. You’re a fucking idiot, Sam.
Let's Learn a Little about Jesse Pearle:
What is your writing environment?
At the moment it’s somewhat messy since I’ve been on a deadline and haven’t cleaned my desk in awhile. There’s almost always a cat within reach (or in my face). It’s a very light, quiet corner of my house, with a skylight above and sliding door on one side. It’s also about six feet from my coffee maker, which is crucial! I have a whiteboard for my weekly and monthly schedules and a wolf calendar hanging on the wall right above my monitor. Music is an essential element, and is almost always playing (Florence and the Machine is what’s playing as I write this).
Who is your perfect hero and why?
My perfect hero is imperfect. I don’t know that I can pinpoint a single character I love above all others, but the ones I tend to love the most usually have a combination of excellent qualities as well as flaws. They always have some defining inner conflict they deal with that drives the choices they make. Harry Dresden is one of my favorites. He never quite gets the girl and things never quite go exactly right for him, yet he still manages to kick ass and take names while he tries to avoid burning down Chicago. Geralt of Rivia, the hero in the popular video game series The Witcher, and the fantasy series the game was based on, was probably the first hero I felt compelled me to write about (via fan fiction). He considers himself devoid of humanity in some ways, because he isn’t strictly human. He was created with the singular purpose of protecting humans from the monsters that plague his world, yet somehow always ends up getting caught up in human wars that ultimately shine the light on who the monsters in the world really are, and they aren’t the ones he was created to fight.
What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
Jeffe Kennedy is one author whose book I read recently. I met her at a recent conference and picked up a signed copy of “Going Under”, which I loved because she writes a good strong heroine struggling to make her way in an industry largely monopolized by men (she’s a video game developer). It also has incredibly hot love scenes.
An author whose book I picked up but haven’t read yet is Cora Brent, who mostly writes MC Club romances, but just released a New Adult novel called “Draw”, which I hear is even better than her other books. I’ve read a few New Adult novels recently with varying opinions so I’m looking forward to seeing how she pulls it off. I also love Brenna Aubrey’s books, partly for one of the same reasons I loved Jeffe Kennedy’s book - because part of her story involves geek culture and I’m a pretty avid gamer.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I’d love to be able to pull off a timeless love story like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. A story like that relies just as much on the setting as the characters and I see so few popular romances anymore that truly succeed at it.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
Write that timeless love story.
Become a bestselling author.
Retire in comfort.
(I’m really pretty easily entertained.)
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
The true inspiration for Second Skin was from a fan fiction I wrote back in 2012 that needed a fresh, original character to play a small role—the role of a rough and world-weary tattoo artist approaching his 50s. The character sprang to life so vividly in my mind at the time that I just had to know what his life story was, so I began writing it, beginning with the character of Sam as a teenager.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
Probably the scene when Benny discovers the illicit sketches Sam has in his sketchbook.
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
My current project is a series of erotica novellas written under a separate pen name (to protect the guilty). The books are easy enough to find in the menu on my website, however. I haven’t yet finished the sequel to Second Skin, but expect to have it done before too long.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I play tabletop RPGs and videogames, read, catch up on TV shows, and spend time with my husband who tends to get a little neglected since I spend so much of my time writing.
What would you consider a perfect date?
The kind where he cooks an amazing meal and we eat, talk, and drink wine late into the night (then maybe he cooks breakfast the next morning, too).
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
I have a secret crush on Gordon Ramsay (shhh!).
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jesse Pearle grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina in a place where there was no danger in dancing naked in the moonlight at the top of a mountain. Always possessed of a creative mind, but never quite the right amount of focus, she wandered for decades. She received a degree in fine art which she put to poor use working an uneventful desk job for an engineering company when she started writing her first really ambitious piece of fiction. She lives in sunny Southern California with her ever supportive husband and four attention-whoring cats.
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