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A Fire Beneath the Skin #2

The Tattooed Duchess

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In the second installment of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy, Rina Veraiin has youth, beauty, and strength. She is a born warrior, able to outride any man, deal death with her fierce blade, and command awesome and mysterious forces granted to her by a set of magical tattoos. Now as the newly minted duchess of Klaar, Rina confronts a menace that threatens her world in a divine conflict that will push her newfound abilities to their limits.

As sinister and magical forces unite against her, Rina’s only chance at stopping them is to gain new tattoos that will increase her powers beyond anything she has known before. United with her few trusted companions, she makes her desperate quest across a bloodshed-ravaged land while war brews among the gods.

With the enchanted world of Helva hanging in the balance, Rina must learn to wield extraordinary power to save herself and her people, before unimaginably powerful forces—and the savage fury of the gods—tear apart the land forever.

This book was initially released in episodes as a Kindle Serial. All episodes are now available for immediate download as a complete book.

370 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 7, 2015

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About the author

Victor Gischler

281 books372 followers
Victor Gischler is an American author of humorous crime fiction.
Gischler's debut novel Gun Monkeys was nominated for the Edgar Award, and his novel Shotgun Opera was an Anthony Award finalist. His work has been translated into Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese. He earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fifth novel Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse was published in 2008 by the Touchstone/Fireside imprint of Simon & Schuster.

He has also writes American comic books like The Punisher: Frank Castle, Wolverine and Deadpool for Marvel Comics. Gischler worked on X-Men "Curse of the Mutants" starting in the Death of Dracula one-shot and continued in X-Men #1.

Gun Monkeys has been optioned for a film adaptation, with Lee Goldberg writing the script and Ryuhei Kitamura penciled in to direct.

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5 stars
1,130 (32%)
4 stars
1,438 (41%)
3 stars
737 (21%)
2 stars
112 (3%)
1 star
21 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 137 reviews
Profile Image for Terence.
1,107 reviews345 followers
April 1, 2016
Two months after the events of Ink Mage, Rina Veraiin is officially the Duchess of Klaar. She's struggling balancing the life she wants to live with Alem, the desire to use her powers, and the responsibility of being a Duchess. Meanwhile events are unfolding around her that could easily change not only Klaar, but the entire world.

The Tattooed Duchess is a far different story than it's predecessor Ink Mage. I envisioned Rina would turn into one of those kind of hot yet kind of scary tattooed motorcycle women, but she's firmly committed to caring for Klaar and she's not traveling the globe in search of new tattoos. It's a nuanced approach as many authors would have her gather power rather than handle her responsibilities to Klaar. She's quickly learning for all the power of being a Duchess, she's somewhat powerless in choosing how to live her life as the King of Helva's heir, Gant, has explained.

The story immediately adds a new threat in the form of a resurrected god Mordis. The resurrection was unexpected yet fitting considering the exchange Rina had when she obtained the hand of death tattoo. Mordis is on the periphery of this story, but when he appears things go insane.

In many ways The Tattooed Duchess is the standard middle book of a trilogy. It sets the table for the events in the final book. The book is full of cliffhangers even though less events happened in this book compared to the Ink Mage. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kushnuma.
1,089 reviews30 followers
February 3, 2016
I received an e-book copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Tattooed Duchess is book 2 in the trilogy.

I wasn't really looking forward to reading this book as I didn't really like the first. But I think I enjoyed this book more than the first and liked that little Epilogue at the end.
Profile Image for Sydney.
129 reviews66 followers
October 19, 2015
These books are bomb diggity. I can't bear to read them as a Kindle Series so I must wait until the whole thing comes out in one book. I assure you, it's so worth the sweet sweet torture of waiting.

I like this series. Like really really like this series. It's intricate and exciting and wonderfully fast-paced. Gischler plays quite a bit with mystery in this book and it adds much to the story. If you read a lot of YA, well actually, read ANYTHING a lot, eventually you figure out what to look for and what all the foreshadowing will lead to. I personally do this without trying and then I spend pages and pages waiting for the author to finally tell me what I already know. It's quite depressing... but lo! Here come's Mr. Victor and he does a nice job of not giving up too much too soon. This is no Gone Girl mystery, I assure you, but the plot doesn't show it's hand before it places it's bet.

The thing that really shocked me, and still surprises me, is that a male writes this series. For some reason I cannot wrap my head around it. Perhaps it's because our main protag is a female and he writes her impossibly well. I see and feel her as only a female written by a female. And that, my friends, makes him such a stellar writer. He's not the first male author to write from a girl's perspective (John Green, dear thing, is a master) but I find it so rare to genuinely embrace a character written by the opposite sex. It's of course, a mark of a great author, and so I give my props to Victor Grischler.

My last comment on this book is simple. There's some controversy about the vulgarity in this book; the foul language, the sex, sometimes the brutality of the fights. But I loved it. It would not be the same book without it. The Duchess would not be as likable if she didn't chain smoke and and drop the F bomb once in awhile. So back off people and embrace the bad side a little.

*Read all my reviews at www.rattlethestars.com*
Profile Image for John G. Stevens.
Author 3 books12 followers
July 25, 2018
Top notch fantasy

Second book in, this book hit all the right notes. Expanded the cast, a deeper look in the word, dire consequences from the first book’s events, and on. I really enjoyed getting another look at the main characters, only 2 books in, it was already like checking in with old friends.

I listened to the audiobook for this one. It was fantastic. The (woman) narrator had distinct inflections/dialects for each character that really worked. A++
Profile Image for KimmE .
854 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2017
4 stars alone for the incredible narration. The second book of the trilogy lived up to the quality its predecessor accustomed us to. It’s a beautifully detailed reality the author creates for us, with a host of complex characters. I do wonder if I would get inpatient with how slow the plot moves, if I had read this instead of listening to it, especially when you look at the overarching story. And the romance that has since gone wayward makes me sad, especially since reviews of the third book indicate that perhaps they do not end up together in the end. I think I will continue with the series, I’m just not sure when..
Update: just read the spoilers. I’m out.
40 reviews
November 2, 2020
The idea of the "ink magic" starts to get a little thin, and one wonders how such powerful things haven't been running amok more often. Still enjoyable to read, but I was disappointed at the book ending in the middle of an adventure -- that's probably due to the nature of the way it was written, but I feel books should end on some reasonable stopping point.
Profile Image for Lesa Divine.
966 reviews190 followers
January 13, 2020
Didn't like this as much as book 1. But it was still interesting to follow Rina. More characters got the spotlight. Some I didn't too much care for.

But demon fight was intriguing.
I'll continue on to the next book.
Profile Image for James Irvine.
157 reviews
November 7, 2017
Very enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book its a great series so far, its written very well the characters are great love following each one.
Profile Image for Vincent Wood.
489 reviews3 followers
December 17, 2016
Book two of the Fire Beneath the Skin series. It seems more like half of a book disguised as a full book. The first book in this series I thought was a great book with lots of tension and lots of adventure. While it did have a few loose threads not satisfactorily tied up, obviously with the idea of these threads continuing in a sequel, the book did have an ending. This book does not. This book has multiple cliffhangers for each of the major characters.

I usually attempt to rate a book based upon the individual book, not based upon its predecessors or successors in a series. This book just isn't a finished book, thus my low rating for it. I do think this book shows promise that the final book of this series might be exciting, but as an individual book, I am left disappointed.

My recommendation for anyone looking into reading this series, I think the first book is worth the read. I do not have a recommendation on continuing reading the rest of the series yet so I will not give an answer until my review of the third book, which I do plan on reading.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,493 reviews2,315 followers
December 18, 2016
The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler is the second book in A Fire Beneath The Skin series but it can be read without reading book one first but you will want to because it is so good! I read book one and three and now I read this one, I love them all. Rina is now a Duchess which she is not happy to be but excepts it and is trying to figure out her powers of the tattoos and the spell book. She is trying to do right by her kingdom and her heart while she battling forces from beyond. She has to get more magical tattoos to fight the evil that is banding against her and everything that she holds close to her. I love these books. Magic, wizards, gods, powers, romance, battles, great writing, fun dialogue, what more could you ask for in a fantasy novel? I received this book for an honest review and it in no way effected my rating or review content.
Profile Image for Jason M Waltz.
409 reviews30 followers
February 25, 2016
not quite the caliber of book 1. still holds lots of good fights and bloodshed, subterfuge and scenes of maturation, clever magics and personal heroics, but...too many this-just-happens-to-be-or-do-or-appear-at-just-this-right-moment. too many abrupt turn arounds in personal choices or recoveries from plot twists that only go so far least they disrupt the main story too much. still mostly enjoying the main character and like some depth growth in others, but miss the same in yet others. good pending looming world and intimate level catastrophe atmosphere. this book does not seem as smooth as the first, perhaps due to the original episodic delivery. don't read this one before the first in the series. I'll be taking a breather before heading into the third title.
Profile Image for william  Goodrow.
195 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2015
The tattooed Duchess

I like the way the story reads so smoothly. Shifting one point to another and then melding them together. I will be watching for the next installment in this story.
444 reviews
June 6, 2019

In the second installment of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy, Rina Veraiin has youth, beauty, and strength. She is a born warrior, able to outride any man, deal death with her fierce blade, and command awesome and mysterious forces granted to her by a set of magical tattoos. Now as the newly minted duchess of Klaar, Rina confronts a menace that threatens her world in a divine conflict that will push her newfound abilities to their limits.
As sinister and magical forces unite against her, Rina’s only chance at stopping them is to gain new tattoos that will increase her powers beyond anything she has known before. United with her few trusted companions, she makes her desperate quest across a bloodshed-ravaged land while war brews among the gods.
With the enchanted world of Helva hanging in the balance, Rina must learn to wield extraordinary power to save herself and her people, before unimaginably powerful forces—and the savage fury of the gods—tear apart the land forever.
This book was initially released in episodes as a Kindle Serial. All episodes are now available for immediate download as a complete book.


“The follow-up to the first book, Ink Mage , gives readers a more in-depth perspective of the characters and the realm they live in. The action is just as fast, the characters are just as colorful, and the violence is just as stabby.” — Amazing Stories

About the Author

Victor Gischler was born in Sanford, Florida. He is a world traveler and earned his PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. He received Italy’s Black Corsair Award for adventure literature and was nominated for both an Anthony Award and an Edgar Award for his mystery writing. He currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and would grill every meal if his wife would let him.

Profile Image for Ranoa Ghost.
23 reviews
June 24, 2022
I have some mixed feelings about this book. I read over half the book and I just couldn't feel any atachment of how the story and development was going to. I strongly felt that how the first book and this one goes dont really match up, and it wasnt untill I was over 70% into the book that I felt the story was going somewhere finaly.
And even tho this book ends on a cliffhanger... I dont really feel like getting to the 3rd book to finish it up.

It's just weird for me who the story went up from book 1 to the 2nd one, that most of the time I was reading I just kept thinking "oh maybe if they did the plot parts in a diferent order this would be more entretaining to read and follow".

But when the plot *finaly* picked up all I could think was "couldnt it had been sooner", and I dont hold it agains the story at all. Its just that I personaly felt the characters where just ruining themselvs to me for how they were going and acting that didnt feel that way on the first book so it was hard to enjoy whenever they came to be their time to shine.

The only reason I would pick up next book is to know just 2 things, what payment wil Rina have to make for the hand tattoo and will Tosh be able to go back to his little adopted kid. Thats all I wanna know, everyone else in the story has nothing for me to want to read anymore cus I cant say how many times I was annoyed to reading some character as I felt them so anoying and unecesary in the way it was going at most parts. There were good parts, but for me mostly where not.
329 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2021
Characters Continue Measured Development, World Gets Bigger
I love the pacing of this book. The characters change, and reveal more of themselves as they face various obstacles to overcome at a well crafted pace.

Rina's suitor and the situation with his inappropriate relationship matching with her inappropriate relationship is perfect. It did seem a little cheap to have Alem overhear literally the one sentence without any context that could throw him into a spiral of despair. Rina's rebuilding of her kingdom, and calling on the brothel madam to run her estate was classic.

Brasley's tender side, and genuine affection for a wife that is forced on him revealed a whole new complexity to his character.

Maurizan the gypsy girl gets another shot at Alem on the rebound, and she proclaims that she doesn't care and will take him how she can get him. Then she is kidnapped/taken by a merman.

Talbun develops her friendship with Rina, and continues to reveal her bad-assedness and confidence, making her all the more attractive in a way that a simple physical description could never do. Talbun and Brasley's entrance into the Great Library is priceless

Crazy cliff-hangers with Rina captured by the Peranese, Maurizan captured by merman, Brasley and Talbun entering the Great Library and the last minute introduction of the one-legged cold hearted killer, the ink mage known as Ankar.

Profile Image for Lezlie Ramsey.
31 reviews
September 18, 2020
The gods come alive and the team go their separate ways

A rag tag team came together to save Klaar from the Perranese invaders and help Rina reclaim the throne. Now, they must all take separate paths to find more magic and help keep Klaar free from Perranese invaders.

Alem and Rina's romance hits a major roadblock and Alem joins Tosh on a journey south. Maurizan also is on the ship to bring Rina help from the Scattered Isles, and she eventually forgives Alem for falling for Rina.

Brasley and Talbun, along with Rina, head to the University Library on the rumor of another ink spell. Along the way, they run into the small company of Perranese still hiding in Klaar and Rina is captured. Forced to make a decision to help Rina in the best way possible, Bradley and Talbun continue to the library in Tal-Agnon, leaving Rina's fate in the hands of the warrior cleric, Hork.

Meanwhile, a once-fallen enemy resurfaces...
Profile Image for Kristine.
2,298 reviews25 followers
September 17, 2018
2.5 Stars

Annoyed with the ending. Not even really a cliffhanger, just an ending. There is SO much up in the air that I can’t believe they let this chapter/section be published as a complete book.

I couldn’t even remember what book 1 was about until a ways into the second book. I only knew that I had read and finished it (book 1) because I rated it on Goodreads. I did begin to recall the first book as I was reading and began remembering certain characters, but, that does say something doesn’t it?

Annoyed with most of the characters at this point and with the complete lack of any attempt to tie off loose ends at the end of this book, not sure if I’ll proceed to the conclusion. We’ll see. At least I know if I do, I better do it quickly because I’m not sure I’ll remember this book any better than I remembered the first.
Profile Image for Ryan Wilson.
21 reviews2 followers
September 10, 2018
This and most of the next had no right to be separate books in my humble opinion.

The first wrapped up neatly with some loose ends still there for tugging but overall it wasn't ready to completely unravel like a poorly stitched sweater that a runaway Jack Russel terrier has snagged a thread of.

The end of this is a hot mess and reads more like the season finale to some streaming show rather than a novel. The narrator even announces when episodes end lending to that concept. But I was here for a book, not an HBO series.

Absolutely nothing is resolved by the end of this stint in the series. And that is very disappointing, feels like more of an artificially bisected book, a way to squeeze more from the reader rather than being a complete entry.


Just my opinion though.
Profile Image for Heidi Hanley.
Author 3 books13 followers
September 10, 2019

I have nothing but good to say about this second book in the series. I liked the first one but to be honest, I almost didn’t download this one, but I did and thank goodness! It was even better than the first one! Totally put together story with multiple characters and locations. Fast paced, great fight scenes and Rina and Allums romance is wonderfully complex. I like the way Gischler writes his romance scenes. Just juicy enough. These characters are all so different and enjoyable. The narrator of the audible version, Fiona Hardingham, is BRILLIANT! How she manages to have unique voices for all these characters is nothing short of miraculous. A fabulous read and I am going to return this book right now and get the next one.
Profile Image for Jamies.
584 reviews5 followers
December 25, 2017
Looking forward to more adventures for our team

This book picks up where the first left off. Trying to run a province with no training, guides, and most of the staff is dead; no problem for our new duchess. Actually big problem cuz the gods seem to be fighting and one might've been killed not to long ago. Also that army that just invaded your land, well turns out there's more coming and you need more tattoos to help fight them. Your love life takes a turn and things might even get worse when an old debt is called in. Gonna read number 3 into the new year but so happy I got this with a promo code.
Profile Image for Micah.
10 reviews
April 18, 2018
I really like this series. It is well written, and the world building and character development is good. It's not blow your socks off, but it is good. I really like Rina (I relate to her on many levels). The only thing that bugged me was that there were so many different POVs. Though I did enjoy having insight into the "bad guys" (and other characters') side, I found that it was hard to bring myself to care about everyone's problems. I was constantly hoping for the next chapter to be Rina. Rina was the most developed character, and frankly the most interesting to read about. Though this was slightly annoying, I still enjoyed this series.
Profile Image for Jennifer Gottschalk.
632 reviews2 followers
September 28, 2019
A well written, action packed installment which is part of a larger series. The characters were unique and the story was quite enjoyable.

The biggest issue with this one is that plot wise, not a lot happens. A range of sub-plots are started but none of them are brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

It is unfortunate that the book ends abruptly with a note that the actual story is continued in the third book in the series. Whilst continuing the story in a final book is part and parcel of a trilogy, the 'ending' (and I use the word in it's loosest possible sense) was deeply unsatisfying.

I'd describe 'The Tattooed Duchess' as a book which has potential but is unfinished.
Profile Image for n p dobson.
44 reviews
June 24, 2017
Fantastic Read

Very little to say other than OUTSTANDING. This Author has now gone into my top ten list of must read more of, I've had little time available for reading but at every chance I get I have too pick it up again, the story line in this book was even more gripping than book one so onto book three and I don't think I will be disappointed. I will be looking forward to reading more books by this Author.
2 reviews
September 22, 2017
Great character development , needed ,more story

I loved the first book, I have this strange hate and love of the characters.
I love team world and story but find every character has major faults with terrace personality and I find myself routing for the strangest person out of the main cast.
I did enjoy this book is did feel as if had read quite far without anything actually happening.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
515 reviews
May 7, 2019
I can't quite put my finger on why I enjoy this series so much. Maybe it's just the breathe of fresh air that I need in my life right now because I'm in stressed out land or if it's just a good series. It's a light fantasy, not what I would consider to be hard core epic fantasy like game of thrones, lord of the rings, or my dude patrick (who needs to finish writing that next book).
So maybe it's just the right ink mage at the right stress level kinda read.
Profile Image for Patricia Madden.
54 reviews
October 9, 2021
Entertaining and easy read. The plot is contrived and some of the characters are behaving uncharacteristically stupid. The storyline is also more random feeling and jumbled. Some of the chemistry from the first book wasn't there for this book. It ends on a cliffhanger so you will want the next book if you choose to finish the series. It is interesting enough to continue to read the series but I hope the author went back to the same formula that made the first book interested.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 137 reviews

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