Review: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

Reviewed by Joanna

Another slow burn romance from the queen of the genre, in the theme of the meek gentling the angry beast. Not my favorite of the three I’ve read by this author, but a good yarn and a touch different to other motorcycle club stories I’ve picked up.

Iris has upped sticks and moved in with her half-brother Sonny, a guy she saw sporadically when they were kids, but who now offers her shelter following problems at her home. He gets her a job in a tattoo parlor, owned and managed by one of his MC club buddies – Dex. Dex is a mean SoB, tattooed, massive and cross with everyone, and meek little Iris is scared stiff of him. She’s a funny creature, timid and damaged by illness but loyal and funny too, and when faced with Dex, does all she can not to piss him off all the more. Including not actually learning how to do her job properly as she’s too afraid to ask twice.

Unfortunately she overhears Dex on the phone bitching about her and it hurts her feelings. With her indignant chin held high, Iris sulks (like mad), and it has the strange effect of making a dent in Dex. Her brother tearing him a new one doesn’t go amiss either, but Dex is bothered by the fact he’s upset his new receptionist. Also Iris is hot, so that probably had something to do with it too.

As they work together, Dex and Iris develop a slow sort of friendship, and when Iris’s no good father causes her and Sonny problems, it’s Dex who takes care of our girl whilst Sonny goes off on a father-hunt.

‘Yay’, I was thinking. ‘Forced proximity!’ Except Iris doesn’t have a sexually adventurous bone in her body. She’s virgin-sweet, so Dex won’t make any moves on her either. The way the ice melts between them is through a very base, human way – when they share a hotel room and he farts, thinking she’s asleep, and they both end up laughing. Then there a couple of other childish moments that endears Iris to Dex, but certainly moved her away from being A) cool, B) availably sexy, and C) anything other than a forever-in-love type.

The backdrop to this tale is the motorcycle club, the Widowmakers. I’ve tried MC club romances and not done well. The misogyny and sleaze gets me in the throat. This club is different in that they, mostly, aren’t criminals or drug runners. The club president made efforts to go legal following a tragedy. There’s still an amount of scantily clad women sleeping with a different club member each night, just waiting for us to judge them. Obviously Dex has partaken in this activity but…

Spoiler – he stops doing this a short while after meeting Iris. This wasn’t clear for a while but was ESSENTIAL for me as otherwise I’d’ve drop-kicked his slutty ass out of the park.

Overall he’s the best MC club hero I’ve ever read. He does a couple of douchy things and his temper and attitude isn’t brilliant, but it was all forgivable stuff and I like both the way he falls for Iris and the way he looks.

“And the cruel bastard that weaved the fate of people’s lives together decided that the beautiful black-haired man with brilliant tattoos all over his upper body, would be standing there in his boxers. The hand on his hip only accentuated the contoured lines of muscle beneath all his tattoos. Damn him.”

This is single perspective (Iris’s), with an accessible writing style. Occasionally there was a chunk too much internal dialogue which I wanted to skim, and if you can do that without losing anything from the story then that’s not great.

Overall, Dex and Iris make a cute couple, and I liked their tale.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Under Locke
by Mariana Zapata
Release Date: January 19, 2014

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