Audiobook Review: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

Narrator: Callie Dalton
Source: Tantor Audio

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata
Release Date: January 19th, 2014
Format: Audiobook (16 hrs and 5 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio

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.

four-half-stars

If you have read Mariana Zapata, then you know you are in for a slow yet well developed romance. I haven’t read one that I didn’t enjoy and this book was no exception.

Iris “Ritz” Taylor lost her mom, and having no way to take care of herself, moved to Austin, Texas to live with her half brother Sonny. They shared a deadbeat dad who seemed to prefer getting in trouble than taking care of the kids he kept creating. Sonny worked a garage, but arranged for Ritz to work at a tattoo parlor owned by his friend named Declan “Dex” Locke. When Iris showed up, she met this Dex and it wasn’t love at first sight at all. Dex was definitely a douche and a naive Iris was the recipient of his constant venom.

This book detailed the journey as Iris and worked hard to rebuild her life and protect herself from the loan sharks her father But slowly, Iris showed her grit as she and Sonny tried to handle the loan sharks who decided to target them since they can’t find Iris’s dad. This required help from Dex and soon Sonny found herself living with Dex for protection. The two got to know each other and sparks flew.

Callie Dalton did a great job narrating this story. Her voice for Ritz had a youthful and hopeful note and her voice for Dex was gruffy, rude and bossy. The chemistry and angst was palpable that I was on pins and needles waiting for Dex to declare his feelings to Ritz.

Mariana Zapata has become one of my new favorites for a meaningful adult-ish romance (not overly sexy) with characters that are entertaining. I think this is my second favorite book from her so far.

Love Restored (Gallagher Brothers, #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Series:
Love Restored Book Cover Love Restored
Gallagher Brothers #1
Carrie Ann Ryan
Contemporary Romance
Pink Ink Books
September 13th 2016
Kindle edition
199

A broken man uncovers the truth of what it means to take a second chance with the most unexpected woman…

Graham Gallagher has seen it all. And when tragedy struck, lost it all. He’s been the backbone of his brothers, the one they all rely on in their lives and business. And when it comes to falling in love and creating a life, he knows what it’s like to have it all and watch it crumble. He’s done with looking for another person to warm his bed, but apparently he didn’t learn his lesson because the new piercer at Montgomery Ink tempts him like no other.

Blake Brennen may have been born a trust fund baby, but she’s created a whole new life for herself in the world of ink, piercings, and freedom. Only the ties she’d thought she’d cut long ago aren’t as severed as she’d believed. When she finds Graham constantly in her path, she knows from first glance that he’s the wrong kind of guy for her. Except that Blake excels at making the wrong choice and Graham might be the ultimate temptation for the bad girl she’d thought long buried.

I enjoyed this story and it was a really good beginning to a new series. This story featured one of my favorite tropes: Enemies to Friends. And this one didn’t disappoint as we got the classic push and pull distinctive of love-hate relationships.

Blake Brennen has grown up from that silver spoon heiress that many people remembered. She has returned home a mature woman who knows the value of hard work. When she hires the Gallagher Brothers to restore her new home, Blake immediately clashes with Graham Gallagher.
His first impression of her is that of a pampered princess born with a silver spoon and he couldn’t stand her. Of course his body got a different memo.

Despite the attraction, Graham treated Blake quite crudely. They spent a lot of time verbally sparring but it was clear that both Blake and Graham’s fighting was fueled by their past hurts and baggage.
Slowly, they begin to see beyond the surface and the secrets final come to life. In the end, Blake and Graham realize how much they misjudged each other and the individual healing began.

It took a while to connect with both character for different reasons, but I felt empathetic to their pain. At first glance, it appears that the author Carrie Ann Ryan wrote simple characters and plots. But as the story evolves, the reader sees just how complex and intricate the individuals truly were.
The pace was very even, and the chemistry was scorching hot. It was easy to read and I felt satisfied by the end. I look forward to finishing the Montgomery Ink series and getting more books in this series.
description

Wicked Burn (Realm Enforcers #3) by Rebecca Zanetti @KensingtonBooks @RebeccaZanetti

Wicked Burn (Realm Enforcers #3) by Rebecca Zanetti @KensingtonBooks @RebeccaZanettiSeries: Realm Enforcers #3
on June 8, 2016
Pages: 366
AmazonNarrator: Brock Thompson
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Simone Brightston knows she can beat the rap her enemies are pinning on her. An Irish witch is nobody's fool, and she didn't get to her position on the high council without serious power. But her cousins want her to hide out--and they somehow convinced her arch nemesis to play getaway driver.

Of all the men she's known, Nikolaj Veis is the hardest to intimidate. With his demon-dark eyes and his inscrutable beauty, he's as desirable as he is dangerous. And he knows better than to underestimate Simone. So when he pulls up on a roaring bike and tells her to climb on or fight it out, she grabs a handful of jacket and holds on tight. Running from the law may not be the smartest plan. But when it comes to Nick, hot pursuit and a blazing fast ride are exactly what Simone's looking for . . .

Includes the brand new Dark Protectors novella, ‘Talen’!
five-stars

I truly savored this book. Nikolaj Veis and Simone Brighton’s book had it all, suspense, mystery, romance, and all kinds of supernatural creatures. It was definitely the best in the series. I’ve been waiting for Simone Brighton’s reckoning, though I had an inkling she was being set up to take the fall as a bad guy. What I didn’t count on was the redemption of Nikolaj. Between his staunch defense of her integrity, his persistence in regaining her love, Nikolaj showed why he was worthy of Simone. I loved everything about this book. I found the novel passionate and the words just moved me. The narrator Brock Thompson was PERFECT for this story. His voice was smooth like butter and it flowed so well with the story.
Biker guy
These two characters are not new if you have read the Dark Protector series. They appear as far back as book 3, Hunted, but this the first time we get the background story as well as their mission as it pertains to the survival of their race. Simone, a witch, was being groomed to take her mother’s seat as one of the Coven Council’s Nine. Nikolaj is the demon advisor who we later learned protected Zane and now we learned why he played both sides of the fence.

Someone has gone through a lot of trouble to frame Simone as the distributor of the mineral planekite, a drug destroying the supernaturals. Now that she is up on charges of treason, Nick is tasked with protecting her until her trial. Old feelings resurface and Nick has an opportunity to regain the love he gave up in order to fulfill his duty to the Zane and the demon realm.

What I loved about this book is that it felt more like a Dark Protector novel than this new Wicked Realm series. I honestly haven’t warmed to these pretentious witches but I loved the vampire and demon interactions. The action was non-stop; the chemistry between Simone and Nikolaj was intense.

“I mated you because I’ve loved you from the first moment I laid eyes upon you a century ago…many soldiers in war wonder if they have a heart…I’ve never wondered …because you are in it and always have been. My heart is yours and always will be. Everything I have done in this life from the good to the truly terrible has been to make the world a better place for you and for any children we may have. Everything I am and will ever be belongs solely to you. No woman has ever been more loved than you are right now Simone.”

That declaration of love was just everything I had been expecting and more. I felt it in my heart. The feeling those words invoke is exactly why I read romance novels. Fervent adoration and love is so sexy and Nikolaj was very sexy. This second chance romance was so enjoyable because you get to see the growth in the characters from their first go-around with love. Both Simone and Nick have honed their abilities, made a mark with their respective group of people and now it’s time to deal with what broke them up. They are adults now and are clear on what they want. Nikolaj goes right in and took no prisoners.

The secondary characters added meat to this novel, specifically Bear. I can’t wait for more stories about him. This story ended with many things unresolved like the true identity of the antagonist, the distributor of deadly drug and Simone’s status with Coven unresolved. I can’t wait to continue the journey with the Realm Enforcers.

*Special thanks to Kensington via Netgalley for the e-arc.

About Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti wrote her first story when she was six – a romance between a princess and neighboring prince. The princess fell out of her castle and the prince rescued her. A happily ever after was had by all.

This theme of romance has been carried through Rebecca’s works until present time. While today’s heroine may have a medical degree, black belt in Karate and her own 401K, she’s still after that happy ending. And today’s prince may have fangs and wear a black hat, but hey, a modern princess likes a guy who bites.

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides there with her husband, children and extended family who inspire her every day.