The Tattooed Duchess, the second book in the A Fire Beneath the Skin series by Victor Gischler was a book that seemed to wander for most of the book. In fact, I would argue that the entire book was really all a set up for the third and final book in the trilogy. My biggest frustrations from Ink Mage still had no resolution in this book. The entire sloppy love triangle tug-of-war going on with Alem just doesn’t sit right for me. Both girls look at him as if he’s the last well for thousands of miles in the middle of a parched desert. Rina is having him sneak around like the dirty little secret that everyone knows about and meanwhile Maurizan whose motive the whole time in falling in love with Alem in the first book was to steal something from Rina like Rina ‘stole’ the prime from her is angry that he tossed her aside like a two bit piece when the Duchess came a calling. Imagine the worst lovers spat in your least favorite book and you’ll find it realized in this series.
In other news, in this book, Rina is trying to help Klaar recover from the vicious attack by Perranese which she magically managed to overthrow at the end of the last book. After all, she does have all of those tattoos, but like a new Pokemon trainer starting out in Pallet Town, Rina cannot stop, she’s gotta have all those tattoos, I wonder if there is this tattoo database that she has a computer for just to keep track of them all. She’s so desperate that she sends her arch nemesis and rival for the stable masters affections, Maurizan off to chase down a potential lead and maybe even get herself a prime tattoo in the process. Perhaps then Maurizan will stop being mad at Rina…or maybe not. Either way, there is not much more to this story beyond an expedition to repay debts and find a new tattoo.
If you liked the first book, this one will seem like a disappointment. If you were like me and found the first book so-so, this book continues along that vein. I believe that the author has more of a desire to describe physical features than develop his characters personality. The best characters are the characters on the side. They seem much more developed than Rina, Maurizan, and Alem – who just exists to be desired and throw in the occasional morality zinger. That being said, I am giving this book 3/5 stars. It was par for the course. The bare bones of the story is fine, it’s just the execution and characters around it that fail to deliver.
I received this book for free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.