Tattoos: Love 'em or Hate 'em, Rio has 'em--and so do I!

Every person in the world has an opinion about tattoos. If you’re a mother who grew up in the 50’s or 60’s, you probably told your children you’d disown them if they ever mutilated their bodies with ink forced into designs beneath their skin.

A lot of those kids got tattoos anyhow. And most of them, in truth, were not disowned. In fact, a few parents even gave in and got tats, too. I know this to be true because I did exactly that—got a tattoo for my 50th birthday (that's it on the left).

My parents were slightly shocked. My husband rolled his eyes. My daughter (proud wearer of three tattoos) was delighted. But nobody shrugged in apathy. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I did it. What I came up with was – rebellion.  I grew up a people-pleasing Miss Goody Two Shoes. I got a tattoo because it was something slightly naughty for a middle-aged woman to do. It wouldn’t offend, but it would shock. And I needed that for some weird reason. I love my tattoo even though it’s not very “badass.” I like it when old friends say, “You DO?” when I admit I have it.

And so, when it came time to create my inner city heroine, Rio Montoya, for
BEAUTY AND THE BRIT, I knew she would love the idea of shocking people, too. She would wear tats that meant something to her and make statements. But I also knew she wouldn’t put anything on her body that wouldn’t be beautiful. If she was going to “waste” her hard-earned money on body art, it wasn’t going to be ugly or hateful.

David Pitts-Matherson, on the other hand, had a very different opinion of tattoos. He always associated them with skinheads in England or with military braggadocio in the army—a place he wanted to forget. He almost got off on quite a wrong foot with Rio, when he commented on tattoos before he knew she had not one, but six!

Here’s an excerpt from that awkward moment—when David realized he had foot-in-mouth syndrome, and fairly severely, too!

Rio stopped dead in front of a store window she hadn’t noticed on the drive into town. Tattoo art from the sweet to the skeletal decorated the plate-glass window, and letters in gold Gothic typeface read Th-INK Designs – Art for Your Skin. Nora Pint, Damian Pint, artists. The few designs on display captured her. She loved tattoos—not full body ink or even heavy sleeves or cuffs. Certainly not gang symbols. But a beautifully rendered picture—
“Strange what people will do to themselves, isn’t it?”
She met his eyes, and the peaceful calm just starting to return boiled back into defensiveness.  “What do you mean?”
“What’s that phrase—whatever floats your boat? I think skin is quite nice on its own, so why shove needles full of ink into the cells trying to look prettier or tougher?”
“Oh?” An acerbic bite laced her words. “You mean like this?”
She turned away from him, hooked a thumb in the back of her waistband, and dragged it down three inches.
The pale swath of skin Rio exposed stopped the vital flow of air to David’s lungs. Or so he truly believed. He’d seen a woman’s backside before. He’d seen many tattoos.  But he stared at the exquisite picture she presented, and his body tightened as if she’d stripped to nothing. 
The horse’s head and body formed a heart shape a full four inches tall and at least that wide. It was the most unique tattoo he’d ever seen. The fine, chiseled head was centered at the small of her back and its mane swept up and left to create half the heart. The horse’s back and tail formed the other half. What enticed him most, however, was the end of the tail—the point of the heart, that disappeared below the seat of her jeans. Her thumb hid the top of the cleft between her cheeks. He’d never given a rat’s bum about anyone’s tattoo, but this one he wanted to follow with his eyes, his fingertips, maybe part way down with his lips ...

My own husband doesn’t see the attraction of tattoos. He never told me he’d prefer I not get one, but he never got very excited about it either. I think maybe that’s one reason I got one—because it was the tiniest bit of defiance—doing something someone I loved might look at askance. But—Jan got used to it. He’s even admitted to liking it. And that’s how I knew David would end up loving Rio’s, too. Men will give up a lot (even opinions) for the woman they love!

Here’s an excerpt—the moment David realized he no longer found Rio’s tattoos remotely off-putting:

Excerpt #2
 “They’re actually quite pretty, aren’t they?” A curious smoky veil faded out the blue of David’s eyes.
Rio stared back. “If I knew what you were talking about I could agree or disagree.”
“The tattoos.”
She stared down to where the delicate white, blue, and lavender-shaded feather along the inside of her right breast swooped up from beneath the rounded neckline of her tank top.
“I’m sorry. “He hesitated, measuring his words. “I was unkind yesterday.”
“It’s fine. You don’t have to like tattoos.”
“In the army I saw plenty of, how should I say it kindly? Unfortunate ones. It wasn’t fair to judge by those standards.”
“I was picky about mine. I knew I wanted beautiful art. They represent a lot of savings and, some would say, wastefulness.”
“How many do you have?”
She hesitated. “I have six.”
His eyebrows twitched a fraction higher, but he nodded and scratched his nose self-consciously. He looked positively cute in his awkwardness.
“Are they showable?”
She smiled and couldn’t help arching her own brow. “Not all of them.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed. Warmth flooded her cheeks.
“I expect that was a rude question considering my actions last night. I never apologized.”
She looked instinctively down the barn aisle.
“It’s all right,” he assured her. “I sent Bonnie back to the house to get
something to drink. I wanted to say I’m sorry.”
“We’re adults. I didn’t exactly run screaming, David.”
“No. And I was glad you didn’t. Although tell me nothing happened during that kiss and I’ll feel a lot better.”
Over the two days they’d known each other the only thing she’d grown slightly self-confident about was teasing him, and suddenly she couldn’t even do that. So much had happened during the kiss she didn’t dare open her mouth.
He nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

Rio's horse, feather and moon and stars along with herbroken infinity heart, her Monarch butterfly, and her owl are all shown here--and they each mean something important to her--as she explains in the book. 
I fell in love with them as Rio revealed them to me.  Can’t say I blame David for doing the same!

What about you? What do tattoos make you think of? Are they associated with negative things in your mind? Are they a beautiful form of art? Do you have one? Would you ever get one?  I’ve asked these questions before, but the answers always fascinate me.  I’d love to know—where do you stand on tattoos?

And if you want to see exactly how David ends up feeling about the subject—I’d love you to check out BEAUTY AND THE BRIT.  You’ll be surprised at his changes of heart!

I have a BEAUTY AND THE BRIT prize pack for one commenter today—an e-book and some snail mail-able goodies too!  Thanks for stopping by to celebrate BEAUTY’s release week with me!


  1. Hi,

    I do think that tattoos can be very beautiful. I also love tribal tattoos, such as with the Maoris. I'm not a fan of all over body tattooing though.


  2. I don't associate tattoos with negative things but I also know that for me, I wouldn't get any. I'm kind of like David's initial reaction, I think the skin shouldn't be marred with ink but I don't think it's necessarily all wrong for other people. Just not for me.

    thebigbluewall77 (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. I think tattoos can be beautiful. I have seen some truly incredible and intricate designs. Those are definitely worth appreciating in the same way you appreciate more traditional works of art. I'm not sure that I can ever see myself getting one, but if I ever did it would definitely be something that had significant meaning.

  4. Great post, Liz !!
    Good luck with David and Rio !!

  5. I wouldn't get them myself since i am scared of pain and i know i will change my mind too. My daughter loves playing with temporary tattoos though.

  6. I think they are a lovely art form but I'd never get one myself.

  7. Don't have one; have seen nice ones

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. Lizbeth, I love, love love this cover. And I love the tattoos. I don't have one, but my DIL has one on the inside of her wrist and it means something to her. I guess I find the ones where they work up and down the neck, arms, legs, etc. intimidating. I wonder if that's intentional or people plan to make you afraid? I don't get the appeal of complete and total body art because it's so permanent, and to remove them leaves scars. But that's another story, right? Good luck with Beauty and the Britt! What a hunky cover!

  9. I've seen some very interesting tattoos, I like the simple, elegant ones. Not really a fan of them for myself, nor a fan of the full/half sleeves but I can understand why people like them so much. I just wouldn't ever get one myself.

    ahui89 at hotmail dot com

  10. Hi, Liz! I always wanted a tiny star. Really small on my back. My friend says she would make a lot of money in a few years at the nursing home. lol

    Congratulations on your new book. Am very happy for you. Hugs.