Butterfly Tattoo
By Lynn Reynolds
Jun 15, 2009 - 12:05:57 PM

Once upon a time, Rebecca O’Neill had a fairy tale life. Young and beautiful, she starred in her own hit TV show and dated her hot and handsome co-star. Then an attack by a crazed fan destroyed it all. Now badly scarred, both emotionally and physically, Rebecca works behind the scenes as a development executive at a major television and film studio. She lives a narrow life that consists mostly of work. Even her social life revolves around business lunches and studio events. But her safe, careful routine is disrupted when she strikes up a friendship with a lonely little girl named Andrea.

Sparks fly when Rebecca meets Andrea’s father, Michael, a handsome electrician who works on the studio lot. Rebecca’s pretty sure their attraction is mutual, yet her gay best friend Trevor is skeptical. He suspects Michael “bats for the other team” and warns Rebecca away from the guy. The suspicions of her friend and her own lack of confidence make Rebecca wonder – is Michael genuinely interested in her, or is he just looking for a mother for his daughter?

Michael Warner is going through the motions in his job as an electrician at a movie studio – but really, he’s sleepwalking through life since the death of his beloved partner, Alex. Although the two men had been in a committed relationship for over ten years, Michael’s also had a number of relationships with women. So it shouldn’t be surprising when Rebecca O’Neill catches his eye. And yet it is. For one thing, Michael fears that any relationship – especially one with a woman – will somehow mean he didn’t really love Alex. And for another, there are all those scars that Rebecca carries, both physical and mental. Michael isn’t sure he can handle her pain as well as his own. Still, for the first time since Alex’s death, Michael finds himself wanting to get up in the morning and wanting to stay alive – all because of Rebecca.

Although BUTTERFLY TATTOO is about the people, not about tons of steamy sex, Deidre Knight does a fine job of building a subtle, simmering tension between Michael and Rebecca. In some ways, Michael’s bisexuality only makes him more appealing. He’s a bold guy by nature, and it shows in his sexual history. He isn’t worried about conforming to anyone’s expectations on that front. While everyone around him, including Rebecca, is confused about his orientation, Michael isn’t. He likes men, he likes women, and that’s all there is to it. No matter to him that people on both sides of the fence keep trying to get him to choose one way or the other.

What troubles Michael lies much deeper. Falling in love with Rebecca is a question of loyalty for him. Will getting involved with her make him a traitor to the memory of Alex? The question haunts him. His efforts to remain faithful to Alex spark an internal crisis that almost destroys his new life with Rebecca. In the end, he’s forced to make some painful choices in order to move forward.

Deidre Knight does a fantastic job of exploring Michael’s grief – the numbness, the fearfulness and the reluctance to begin again. Her portrait of his pain and inner conflict is so real, it will definitely have you in tears at times. But you’ll also be uplifted by the warmth of his relationship with his daughter and by the tenderness of his romance with Rebecca. I truly loved these characters and hated to part with them. BUTTERFLY TATTOO is a wonderful, deeply moving story that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

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