Under Locke by Mariana Zapata (2014) – bought on Kindle
“He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.
After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.
And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.
… she should have chosen the strip club.”
Ay, me. I don’t know where to start with this one. First things first, let me say that I did enjoy reading this. Very much. Let’s keep that in mind when I’m grumbling, yeah? I ENJOYED this book. *nods*
So, what worked for me?
Dex Locke – Plain and simple, this guy made the book for me. His character proved the most consistent and well rounded in terms of how he was written on the page. Yeah, he’s a dick. But he admits that.. (makes me think of Transformers.. ‘and know I know… and knowing is half the battle!’
And let’s not forget.. He’s HAWT!
Setting – I loved the tattoo shop. I’m a sucker for ink. But what I really liked was how authentic it felt. I mean, I’m not a complete expert, but I’ve got tattoos myself, and I’ve been in and around plenty of tattoo shops/artists to know when someone is just making shit up. This felt legit.
MC culture – I’ve been reading a lot of MC type books lately (for research and pleasure) and I think again, it’s really tricky ground to go fictionalising, you know? Really don’t wanna be get that wrong. But what I admired here was that this wasn’t gung ho let’s go lynch someone because I’ve watched too much Sons of Anarchy. Instead, it flirted with MC culture. Just enough for me to believe, but not enough to make me scoff.
That’s what she said – This joke will NEVER grow old. Ever. I laughed every time.
What didn’t work for me?
Iris – Oh, Iris. She had some really stellar moments. As the protagonist though, I found being in her head, constantly, to be irritating at times. Why? Well, she contradicts herself. She would be enraged by being called stupid, and go to great lengths explaining why she isn’t… and then in the next page she’s calling herself stupid… And she explains herself, and everything else, in too much detail. Also, I didn’t always enjoy her train of thought during sexual encounters (see below).
Slut shaming and sexuality – I like to think we live in a time where a woman’s sexuality, and her choice to embrace it, isn’t something that should be frowned upon. All too often Iris would question her desires, her sexual actions, and refer to herself with derogatory terms when performing certain sexual acts.
I just want her, and the hundreds of characters like her, to own it. You want to do that thing? (I’m trying to keep this as PG as possible) Then do it! Why is it ok for a man to have sexual urges, and act upon them? But when a woman does it…
And then the slut shaming. So these girls are throwing themselves at men twice their age. So they publically present themselves (naked and everything). So the want a sugar daddy. Who cares? Life is about choices. And a woman, or a man, should feel free to make that choice to be promiscuous or sexually active with another consensual partner(s) without labels. You dig? Just get it on. Or don’t. Whatevs. But life’s too short to be judging someone on how they chose to live their life.
Too long – Like I said, I enjoyed this book. I was really into the interplay between Iris and Dex (although I wish ‘Ritz’ wasn’t a thing…) and this kept me rapt. But it was too long, in general. 497 pages? Daaaaymn. That’s a long book. I felt there was a lot of fluff and filler in some scenes that could have been cut.
(a quick aside.. that blurb? ‘She should have chosen the strip club’? Wha?!)
All in all, this is an enjoyable read. The writing is consistent (Iris notwithstanding) and the protagonist has a quirky humour that I could connect with. If you like books with bikers and MCs then you’ll be into this. Similarly, if you like big, hulking alpha males, then this is for you too.
A solid 3.5 out of 5. *thumbs*