A Skin Deep, Inc. Novel
Fighter pilot Jon Russell never sleeps with the same man twice. Known for his lack of shame when it comes to hooking up, Jon has no interest in commitment—even friends with benefits sounds like too much work.
Matt Huffman has slept with lots of women. He’s had loads of girlfriends. So why does the hot as hell pilot getting a tattoo as the result of a lost bet stop his breath? And how come he can’t stop thinking about him, even after he’s gone?
When Jon returns to Skin Deep the second time, he doesn’t want another tattoo. He wants to hook up with the gorgeous artist he spent hours agonizingly close to, and Matt wants to explore some curiosity about men. Fulfill the desire he can’t stop fantasizing over. And he wants to do it with Jon.
As their casual hook up becomes more than just skin deep, both Matt and Jon are faced with questions they don’t want to answer. Matt understands he’s bi—but are these feelings he has typical of hooking up with a man? Or is it only Jon that can make his heart pound? If Jon wanted nothing more than a fling, why does he find himself needing not just Matt’s body, but all of him? And can their relationship withstand the hardships that makes Jon avoid them in the first place?
Pounding Skin is part of the Skin Deep, Inc series. The Skin Deep, Inc books can be read in any order—come enter a world where gorgeous tattoo artists and hot Navy men find passion, pleasure, and a happily ever after together.
L.A. Witt also writes under the name Lauren Gallagher.
About the Author
L.A. Witt is the author of Back Piece. She is a M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.
Read an Excerpt
They lost. I can't believe they lost.
Jon Russell stared up at the screen above the bar in disbelief while his squadron mates whooped and hollered around him, clinking drinks together and celebrating their team winning the first game of the season. Because their team had won. They'd beaten his Falcons. They'd ... they'd won.
But how? How the fuck did this happen? The Falcons had been ahead fourteen to three until the fourth quarter. In fact, it had looked like a shutout all the way past the two-minute warning in the third quarter, but the Packers' kicker had squeaked in a long field goal with seconds left on the clock. It was an impressive kick, too, so Jon hadn't begrudged them the score. After all, his team was still up by eleven.
For three entire quarters, Jon had been confident and cocky and ready to collect the money his buddies would owe him. Even that field goal had seemed like putting a BandAid on the Titanic. The Packers were going down, and he was thrilled to savor every last delicious second of it.
And then it all came apart in the fourth quarter. First there'd been a fumble. They'd recovered, but then there was an interception. A defensive lineman literally tripped over his own feet and let a member of the Packers' offense slip past him with the ball.
Resulting in a seventy-seven yard touchdown.
Seventy. Seven. Yards.
Then another touchdown, with barely any effort. A third for good measure. And after the two-minute warning, another damn field goal like they just wanted to make sure the Falcons knew they'd had been soundly beaten.
So much for another undefeated season. Damn it.
"Well, Fumes." Nate, Jon's RIO and usually best friend, clapped him on the shoulder and grinned. "Looks like someone's getting inked."
Jon's stomach dropped to the floor. Oh shit. He'd been so horrified by the sudden turnaround, so nauseated by his team falling apart like that, he'd forgotten his side of the wager.
He was the only Falcons fan in the squadron. Half a dozen of his buddies — including his bastard RIO — were Packers fans. Had his team won, they'd have each ponied up a hundred bucks to him, but it hadn't seemed right for him to pay them a hundred apiece or make them split a single Benjamin. So Nate, being the asshole he was, had come up with a better idea.
"Since you're so fucking confident," he'd said a few nights ago, "I've got an idea. You lose, you get a tattoo. And we all get to decide what, where, and how big."
Jon was, in addition to being the sole Falcons fan on the squadron, the only one without any ink. They'd been giving him shit about that since forever, and were collectively bound and determined to find a way to get him into a tattoo shop. After consulting with a few too many beers that night, he'd agreed to the bet because maybe then they'd get off his back about getting inked. And besides, the Packers weren't beating the Falcons in a million years.
Except they had.
And now ... shit. Jon was getting a tattoo.
The squadron didn't waste any time, either. The post-game show had barely kicked off before everyone was herding Jon out to the parking lot. Most of them were drunk, but Taxi was sober. Of course he was. He didn't drink, which made him the designated driver any time the rest of the guys wanted to go out and get smashed. His call sign hadn't happened by accident.
Taxi's SUV comfortably held five people when three of those people were his kids. When they were drunk pilots who were long past their gangly scrawny stages, the backseat could get crowded. Even more so when Jon was stuck between Nate and Recon, both of whom were loudly brainstorming tattoo ideas the whole goddamned way across Virginia Beach.
"I got it!" Recon elbowed Jon. "A big ol' naked chick on your back." He snickered. "Next guy you bang from the 47th will love that."
Jon's face burned, and he suppressed a groan. They all had to be just sober enough to remember him sleeping his way through the other squadron last year, didn't they?
"Oh!" Nate twisted around in the passenger seat. "Maybe a guestbook on the inside of his leg! With preprinted names of those guys from the 47th."
"Don't do me like that, Screws," Jon warned.
Nate grinned at him. He was loving this. And he was pretty drunk, too, which didn't help anything.
"So, uh," Taxi broke in, "someone want to tell me where this place is?"
"Take the First Colonial exit." Nate motioned clumsily up ahead. "It's out by Seaside Barbell. Sign says Skin Deep Ink. You can't miss it."
Skin Deep Ink? Really? Kind of on the nose, isn't it?
All too soon, Taxi pulled into a strip mall not far from the airbase, and sure enough, there was Skin Deep, Inc.
Oh — Inc., not Ink. Cute.
Just Jon's luck, too — the lights were on and a neon OPEN sign glowed in the window above a drawing of a skull and a hissing snake.
The place was covered with edgy art and a few snarky bumper stickers, but at least from the outside, it looked reasonably clean. Some official-looking notices from the health department and various other government agencies stuck out like sore thumbs under the anarchy symbol, but they declared the place had passed all its necessary inspections with flying colors. So there was that. God knew his night had been bad enough without a hepatitis bonus.
Stomach roiling, Jon followed the guys inside.
As soon as they opened the glass door, they were greeted by the pungent scents of disinfectants and the sound of heavy metal blasting over the top of a buzzing that made Jon's skin crawl. He'd gone with friends to tattoo shops before. He knew what that sound was. It had always given him the creeps even when he wasn't facing the prospect of that damn needle touching him. Now that he was committed to some ink of his own, it actually made him queasy.
A divider covered in tattoo magazine cutouts and a dry-erase calendar blocked Jon's view of whoever was currently getting tattooed, and he was very much okay with that.
The needle quieted and the volume on the music dipped.
"Hey, Matt?" A voice called from behind the divider. "Can you help these guys?"
"Yeah. Hang on just a sec." This voice was smoother, but tinged with palpable frustration. "Need to finish with — son of a bitch."
"Take a break from that thing before you actually break it." The tattoo needle's buzz intensified, so whoever was behind the divider apparently wasn't too concerned about the other guy breaking whatever it was he was messing with.
The smooth voice swore, and something clattered. "Fuck it." Another clatter. Then footsteps. Then —
Jon's inability to speak suddenly had a lot less to do with his nerves. The man who stepped out of an open door behind the counter was stunning. The kind of stunning that made Jon's breath get lost in his throat while his stomach started flipping a whole different type of somersault — the kind that made him think that introductions and small talk weren't necessary as long as one of them had a condom within reach. And Jon generally wasn't that easy. A shameless slut, maybe, but he at least liked to know a guy's name before he committed to getting him off.
There were exceptions to every rule, though.
Jon wasn't even sure what it was about this guy. There wasn't one thing that jumped out and said "I should be on the cover of a magazine." He wasn't ... pretty, but Jesus fuck he was hot. All six-foot-something of him. He was tattooed all over and fit — lots of definition stretching his tight T-shirt without making him look like a balloon animal — and his clean-cut near-black hair somehow went perfectly with his scruffy jaw. There were two silver rings in his eyebrow, and a single diamond stud gleamed in his left ear.
Not surprisingly, he had elaborate ink down both of his arms and onto the backs of his hands, plus climbing up from beneath his collar onto the sides of his throat. Jon wondered where else he had tattoos, but he wasn't holding his breath. Given how this day had been going, he was pretty sure this guy was a hundred percent heterosexual. Nothing about him screamed straight, per se, but the Falcons had lost, Jon was at his squadron's mercy for a tattoo, and he doubted good fortune would suddenly manifest itself in this guy — this ridiculously sexy guy with scruff and muscles and tattoos — being queer.
The hot artist — Matt, apparently — raised his eyebrows, scanning the squadron who'd crowded into the shop. "Can I help you gentlemen?" Jon swore he could feel all eyes on him. They weren't going to speak for him. Oh, no. They wouldn't let him off that easily.
He cleared his throat and tamped down the nervous queasiness. "I'm, uh, looking to get a tattoo."
"Okay." Matt held his gaze. "You been drinking tonight?"
The question caught Jon off guard. "Uh. Yeah. Why? Do I look drunk?"
"Well, no. But ..." Matt tilted his head toward the others. "Birds of a feather."
Jon chuckled at his friends, who were noticeably unsteady on their feet. "Fair enough. I'm not sober enough to drive, but I'm not ..." He made a similar gesture.
Matt almost laughed, but his expression shifted to a scowl. "I can't ink you if you're drunk, so —"
"Fine by me." Jon turned to the others. "Hey guys, he says we can't —"
"Nice try." Taxi nudged him. "You can make an appointment and come back."
Matt's eyes flicked from one member of the squadron to the next until they stopped on Jon. "So, what and where?"
"Well ..." Jon gulped, gesturing over his shoulder. "That's up to them."
The pierced eyebrow shot up. "Come again?"
Jon took a deep breath. "I, uh ..."
Nate materialized beside him, leaning heavily on him since he was pretty shitfaced, and wrapped a helpful arm around his shoulders. "Fucker lost a bet." He beamed. "Now he's getting whatever we want."
Matt laughed, but he sounded a little uneasy. "Is that right?"
"Unfortunately," Jon said. "So, uh, do you have any books we can look at?" He swallowed. "I mean, that they can look at?"
"Sure." Matt reached under the counter and pulled out a stack of large leather albums. "This is all custom work. There's also ..." He gestured at the walls, which were covered from floor to ceiling with hundreds of designs. "Any of those."
Nate and Taxi grabbed the portfolios, and the squadron huddled around a footlocker that doubled as a coffee table. Jon hung back and tried to glare at them while they flipped through the albums and laughed hysterically as they brainstormed what he'd get tattooed and where. He couldn't help chuckling along too, mostly because it was hilarious to watch his squadron mates doubled over in fits of drunken laughter, even if it was at his expense. Or if it meant the odds were tilting strongly in favor of his tattoo winding up on his ass. It was probably just as well he'd laid down some ground rules when they'd made the bet. They'd all grudgingly agreed not to make him get anything that would be visible in uniform, and there'd be nothing on his cock or balls. With this group, those were guidelines that needed to be explicitly spelled out if he didn't want a biohazard symbol on the head of his dick or something.
"So." Matt nodded toward Nate. "I'm guessing he's the one in charge of this whole thing?"
"Might as well be. It was his idea."
"Oh. So, what? You guys are coworkers, or what?" "He's my RIO."
"Copilot." It wasn't entirely accurate, but he wasn't in the mood to explain the finer points of Nate's job. If anything, he was debating how difficult it would be to convince a maintainer to rig the ejection lever on Nate's seat so it could be set off by the pilot. Except then Jon would end up ejecting too, and he had enough back problems these days. Still, it was an amusing fantasy.
The portfolios had reached a couple of pages of elaborate pinup girls, and Jon pulled his gaze away. He didn't want to risk a look of horror because then he'd be getting a naked woman for sure. Wouldn't that be fun to explain to his next hookup?
"No, really. I'm 100% gay. The tattoo is ... it's a long story, all right? Just put on the condom."
"So what would've happened if you'd won the bet?" Matt asked.
Jon sighed. "Hundred bucks apiece from each of them."
Matt whistled. "Ouch."
"Yeah. Bad enough my team lost. No repeated undefeated season for us."
"Wait, this was a bet over a football game?"
Jon turned to him. "Uh. Yeah?"
Matt just smirked.
"Don't judge me." Jon laughed. "I'm the only Falcons fan in the squadron. Should've known that would bite me in the ass sooner or later." He paused. "That, and I think it was a ploy for them to make me get ink. They've been trying forever."
Matt sobered. "So, you don't really want a tattoo." There was genuine concern on his face.
"I'm ..." Heat rushed into Jon's cheeks, and he sighed. "I'm terrified of needles."
That loosened up Matt's features a bit. "Honestly, it's a completely different type of needle than what you're probably afraid of."
Jon eyed him dubiously.
Matt glanced at the squadron, then gestured for Jon to step behind the counter. "Come on. Let me show you."
Jon planted his feet. "I've, uh, watched someone get inked before."
"Yeah, but I'll bet you've never looked closely at the needle." He motioned again.
Jon hesitated, then followed him. They stepped into the room Matt had come out of a few minutes ago, and Jon was surprised to see a bunch of pieces of small machinery and wiring spread out on a massage table.
"It's not exactly working today," Matt muttered, "but this is what it actually looks like." He picked up the biggest piece of the disassembled device.
It didn't look like much. A pneumatic gun of some kind, just big enough to fit comfortably in Matt's long fingers.
"Make you nervous?" Matt asked.
"Uh. Yeah. A bit."
Matt flashed a knowing smile. "You know there's no needle in it, right?"
Jon looked closer, and no, he didn't see any menacing point at the "muzzle" of the gun, but the whole thing didn't look any less intimidating. "So what does the needle look like?"
Matt put the gun down, then rifled through a drawer. He pulled out a small sealed plastic sleeve. "This is what I use to outline. It looks big, but the majority of that is just to give the machine something to hold on to." He handed it to Jon. "You'll only feel a fraction of a millimeter of it."
It wasn't something Jon wanted anywhere near his skin, but somehow, seeing it isolated did make it less unnerving than, say, a hypodermic. There was no syringe attached. No feeling of dread that the whole thing would be sinking under his skin. Only the very end.
Or maybe his anti-needle fight-or-flight instinct was just dulled right then because he was alone in a room with Matt. The door was open and there were voices right outside, but for all intents and purposes, it was just the two of them. Just him and a walking talking collection of fetishes Jon hadn't even known he had.
"So, what do you think?" Matt asked.
Jon almost asked "About what?", but quickly remembered the needle in his hand. He handed it back. "I guess we'll see what happens when you actually use it on me."
Fuck, am I really doing this?
The creases between Matt's eyebrows echoed the question, but he didn't say anything. He took back the needle and put it in his drawer. They started to head back out into the main shop, and then he did pause. "I didn't catch your name, by the way."
"Oh. I'm ..." I have a name. I know it. I know my name. What is wrong with me? "Jon."
The tattoo artist smiled, and it was slightly lopsided, which screwed with Jon's senses just enough he almost didn't catch the response: "Matt."
Jon knew that already, but he returned the smile. Then they returned to the main shop, and Jon went around to the front of the counter. He leaned on one side. Matt leaned on the other. The squadron was still merrily flipping through portfolios, loudly fantasizing about making Jon get a giant dick in the middle of his chest. Good thing that had been one of the other caveats he'd laid down when they'd made the bet. Nothing religious, nothing that might make someone think he was part of a biker gang or a group of skinheads, and for God's sake, no genitalia.
Excerpted from "Pounding Skin"
Copyright © 2017 L. A. Witt.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tears and joy, sadness and joy, and so much reality. Another wonderfully perfect heart warming story.
Awesome book with M/M
Pounding Skin, L.A. Witt Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance I love LA Witt's books usually, but the first in this series just didn't do it for me. I didn't know if that was a one off, or if maybe its just this series. Well, having read book two I think maybe its time for me to have a break from LA's novels. I did enjoy this, but found I was putting it aside and picking up later, something that I don't do with a book I really like. I didn't dislike the story, there were parts I liked a lot, but I also found there were swathes I just felt were either predictable, or felt too much like a previous story-line brought into this novel. I need to be surprised, to wonder what can, will happen and how but somehow here I felt I knew that before I read it. If you're new to LA's books you'll probably love this, she's a great writing style and its a classic LA story, great characters, some angst and lots of hot steamy sex tied in to a real feeling setting with issues that people really do face. Of course all authors have fans who love everything they write, but I think I just need a break. I still love LA's writing style, love the way she can conjure up such realistic people but feel maybe I need to step away for a while. If I can resist the lure of the next book ;-) Stars: Three, a typical LA Witt well written, steamy read, but I just felt it was all too familiar, nothing new to hold my interest.. ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Pounding Skin Skin Deep Inc #2 L.A. Witt 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Another great read by L.A. Witt!! Couldn't put it down. I got so involved with Matt and Jon that I had to finish it to see what happened between them. I'm such a sucker for Happy Ever Afters. I enjoyed finding out that Colin and Daniel are still making things work from the first book in this series. Can't wait for Book 3 to come out in the fall. Thanks NetGalley and SMP Swerve for the arc in exchange for my honest review.
This is a great addition to this series, however be advised this can be read as a stand-alone. Matt and Jon are great characters, with steamy chemistry. The story has plenty of drama and emotion and held my interest throughout. The sex is steamy, the read is entertaining and fast-paced. I really liked it.
Smouldering, fervent and sinfully sexy! This is a provocative tale that mixes the sweet, modest, tattoo artist Matt who finds himself suddenly reevaluating his sexuality and the cocky, confident, fighter pilot Jon who is only looking for fun, excitement and a good time. The characters are charming, handsome, and desirable. The writing is smooth and erotic. And the plot is a classic romantic love story about friendship, support, acceptance, family, commitment, and love with a side of red-hot chemistry and an abundance of scorching sex scenes. This is definitely an entertaining, tantalizing read that does a good job at developing the relationship and the characters and not only gives us the happy-ever-after ending we look forward to and expect in this genre but a cover that is undeniably drool-worthy. This is the second novel in the “Skin Deep Inc.” series and certainly one of my favourites from Witt so far.
I received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. The story is about a man (Matt) who is just starting to realize he may be bisexual and has started a relationship with a man (Jon) who is definitely gay. There is drama from others, noted in the story, that have an effect on them. They separate for a short time and realize they love each other. There is a lot of sex in this book but it is very well written. I would recommend this book.
** I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.** I promised an honest review so here it is.... Pounding Skin was a good read. This is the first book I've read in this series and this is the first book I've read from this author so I had no idea what her writing style was like, but I enjoyed the story and the storyline. It's not often that I find myself reading strictly m/m romance reads, so I really love when I feel the story was done right. This story focuses on Jon and Matt. I enjoyed Jon's character a lot; he know exactly who he was and what he wanted in his life. Matt was still learning who he was and how to deal with it. It was crazy in a sort of way how everyone knew what he preferred including him but he denied himself because of what he thought everyone would think. I was glad he made the decision to live his life the way he wanted. I wished the story had a little less sex scenes but even with that said I thought they were done perfect. I would read other books from this author and for readers who enjoy a good m/m I'd recommend you giving this book a try.
4.1 ~> More physical than emotional. > > Judging a Book by it's Cover > Looking Deeper Third-person. A Naval pilot with a fear of needles and commitment meets a tattoo artist that's just coming to question his own sexuality in this second installment of the series. It was an odd pairing and they formed an odd relationship/arrangement. They were compatible and seemed to hit it off well, but it was hard to feel an emotional bond to them as a couple when the couple lives in denial. One thing that became annoying after a while were how random looks, thoughts, touches, and/or memories causing one or the other to "shiver". Good gawd, that was overused and became less attractive every time. I was almost afraid they'd need to be checked for neurological issues as often as it came up! That aside, the secondary cast mainly consisted of Matt's coworkers at Skin Deep, Inc. and Jon's RIO (co-pilot) Nate. A few extras were brought in on occasion as well, such as a best friend or family member. The dialogue was sound and their interactions were decent. It was just hard to believe that every time one went to the other's house, they could barely wait to get the front door closed before pawing and mauling one another. As the relationship continued on, there were times that I wanted to slap some sense into one or both of them, but mostly just one of them. The plot was good but was not really dynamic or exciting. However, the writing style allowed for it to flow smoothly and freely. There were a few conflicts (bonehead moments), that were too easily forgiven but overall, it was entertaining to see them work their issues out. There was not a lot of predictability; in fact, I'd noticed a few potential conflicts that never came to fruition ~ missed opportunities for a little added drama. The conclusion provides a loosely implied HEA for the lead characters. Overall, I do not feel it was as strong as BACK PIECE (Colin & Daniel, book 1), perhaps because of the emotional disconnect for 80+ percent of the book, but it stood it's own ground fairly well. That said, I'd still recommend reading the books in order since Colin and Daniel's story continues to play out in the background of POUNDING SKIN. I am interested in COVER UP and look forward to seeing if they have a stronger connection, and I hope to see more of Jon and Matt growing stronger as a couple and hope to see Daniel and Colin together again as well. . Rating: [R] ~ Score: 4.1 ~ Stars: 4 ========================== ⭐ ⭐ **** Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I would voluntarily leave unbiased and unsolicited feedback. I was not asked, encouraged, or required to leave a review - nor was I compensated in any way. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". ***** ⭐ ⭐
One man questions his sexuality, the other doesn't do relationships. I don't know why but it's been a little while since I've read a book by L.A. Witt. I don't know how I missed the first book in the Skin Deep Inc. series, Back Piece, but I'm glad I saw Pounding Skin available on NetGalley. This one stands alone with no problem; I didn't feel like I missed anything from the first story but I plan to go back and read it because I enjoyed Pounding Skin so much. The book starts out in a kind of humorous vein; fighter pilot Jon Russel has lost a bet and must get a tattoo of whatever his buddies pick and on whatever part of his body; within reason. When he sees the tattoo artist who will be initiating him into the world of ink he is stunned speechless by the man's good looks. Matt Huffman likes women but lately he's also realized he's attracted to men, although he's not really ready to admit it out loud. He's intrigued by Jon and his commitment to getting a tattoo even though he doesn't really want one. I loved how this story developed a bit slowly. Not the sex part, these two guys hooked up quickly, but the relationship between them developed slowly. They both agreed that it would only be for fun, no strings sex and companionship. As things begin to change John gets scared. The depth of feeling conveyed by Ms. Witt's writing was just perfect. In a way, I pretty much knew how the story was going to go but I just didn't know how it would get there. The writing kept me glued to my e-reader and I didn't want to put it down. The only thing that kept me from finishing this in one sitting was sleep – as in my e-reader fell out of my hands when I could no longer keep my eyes open! I almost never read excerpts for the next book when they're found at the end of my current read. I'm not sure what compelled me to read the one for Cover Up but I did and now I can't wait to read it. A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley but this did not influence my opinion or rating of the book. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***
An awesome M/M romance. I enjoyed how Matt thought through his feelings and didn't immediately freak out. He accepted his newly discovered desires and decided to explore them. Having denied being gay for most of his life, it wasn't easy for him to accept his bisexuality but the longer he is with Jon the more obvious it becomes. They have several struggles and major bumps in the road but these two were meant to be and for the most part stuck with it. A very well done story proving that love can come in many forms. I would definitely recommend this one.