I thought I’d take a break from television couples this week and dive into one of my favorite literary love affairs. Frequent readers know I’m pretty obsessed with Jay Crownover’s steamy Marked Men series about the love lives of a group sexy inked and pierced tattoo artists, and one of my most beloved ships from the series is Shaw Landon and Rule Archer of the first book Rule.
Shaw’s linen and lace. Rule ink and piercings. Together, their one of the steamiest opposites attract ships in the entire Marked Men universe. She’s loved him since she was a teen, but he always saw her as his brother’s girl. Then, one drunken night everything changes. It’s an all-consuming passion that hooks you from the start and has you rooting for this pair to seal the deal all the way to the end. Their an unconventional duo that proves love can be found when you finally one your eyes and see what’s right in front of you.
Here are a few reasons why Shaw and Rule are one of the most iconic ships of the Marked Men.
They are the yin to each other’s yang.
On the surface, Rule and Shaw couldn’t be any more different. Shaw is a quiet good girl, who follows the rules and gives everything she has to everyone. Rule, on the other hand, is an in-your-face tattoo artist, who is known for his abrasive personality and rebellious ways. It’s an explosive clash of personalities that would send most running in the other direction. Yet, Rule and Shaw jump right into the flames. They are so fundamentally different that they fit together in a way they both desperately need. Shaw needs Rule to shake up her neatly structured world, and Rule needs Shaw to stabilize his constant chaos. They get deep under each other’s skin, awakening parts of themselves that have been dormant for much too long. They are two imperfect pieces of one perfect whole.
They help each other face their demons.
Despite their young ages, both Rule and Shaw are carrying some pretty serious baggage. Rule is desperately trying to drown his grief of the death of his twin brother and the sting of a family who blames him in booze and women. Shaw is constantly at war with being the person she wants to be and pleasing her critical and demanding parents, often putting aside her own happiness for the sake of others. For years, they’ve been escape the pain, trying to outrun the demons that ruled their lives. This until they found someone strong enough to help them stand and fight. Rule helps Shaw discover her voice and start putting herself and her happiness first, while she becomes an anchor of light in the darkness for him, helping him come to terms with what he lost and start living for what he still had. Make no mistake. Neither rescued the other. Instead, Rule and Shaw helped each other discover the strength they had inside to save themselves.
Their chemistry is off the charts.
Rule wasn’t kidding when he said, “Opposites don’t just attract. They freaking catch fire and burn the entire city down.” From the first chapter to the last, Rule’s connection with Shaw is an undeniable force. They have a push-and-pull that that has as many ups and downs as Rule has hair colors. Yet, no matter how crazy things may get between them, they can’t stay away. They are drawn to each other both sexually and emotionally, and once they give in there’s no getting out. Their love is a powerful current that throws off more heat than the sun. It’s no wonder Shaw held out for her tattooed crush for so long.
Their post-book romance is seriously adorable.
Although they are only the central figures of one book in the series, Rule and Shaw’s story doesn’t end on the last page of Rule. As the first couple in in the series, we get to watch their relationship continue to evolve quietly in the background of the five books. From moving in together to walking down the aisle and starting a family, we get a front row seat to all of their major milestones and mentions of fluffy little moments like Rule fixing the water heater and Shaw deciding on a wedding theme. It’s not all sun and rose, but it’s theirs. They are doing domestic bliss their perfectly imperfect badass way. (Seriously, the fanfiction we could write.)
They were each other’s first loves.
For Shaw, it was always Rule. For Rule, love didn’t even seem like a possibility. There is just something beautiful and pure about your first love being your forever love. Simple as that.