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Under Locke

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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.

497 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 19, 2014

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Mariana Zapata

17 books45.9k followers

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5 stars
28,585 (35%)
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3 stars
16,722 (20%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,400 reviews
Profile Image for Naksed.
2,987 reviews
February 9, 2022
A treasure trove of purpletastic prose.

The "love scenes" were simmering with so many beefy and meaty shafts, as well as mushroom and bulbous heads, that I wasn't sure if the characters were making love or cooking Beef Stroganoff.

They were also very combustible. Was it the Fourth of July?

Oh friggin’ hell. I could feel it. Feel that magical explosion of fireworks and rainbows in my toes.

Fireworks zipped up my spine for so long I thought I’d melt into him, or at least melt around his girth.

My entire body exploded with electricity and fireworks that couldn’t be described, blood pounded through my ears and I went deaf.

I loved the St Patty's Day analogy too...

Dex was like a man possessed, ripping an orgasm straight out of a pot of gold from me.

There were some other, awkward turns of phrases that were difficult to decipher:

The angry frown that curled over his mouth was the predecessor for those hazel eyes flicking back and forth between me and Dex.

Say what now?

And let's not forget H's uber romantic declaration that had me swoon:

Then he laid the atomic bomb on my very existence. “You are not a waste of time to me.”

Wish I could say the same about this book

Profile Image for Sofia.
101 reviews46 followers
February 14, 2014
If you hate women you will absolutely love this book.

Well since I'm not masochistic it was a downright disgusting and painful read, but I really wanted to rate it so I barreled through.

Iris is the shy, insecure victim who, in her almost 25 years of life, have never had sex.
Why? Why is it so important for the girl to always be a fucking virgin? I don't know why it's pissing me off except that it sends the wrong message to girls. That as soon as they have sex they're tainted and damaged goods or something. Womens worth is somehow wrapped up in how many sexual partners they've had.
And Dex, obviously he is a moody, possessive horndog. And since he is a guy the same rules does not apply to him. I just kept waiting for Iris to snap and tell him to fuck off. He gets to have casual sex with whoever but she's not even allowed to talk to guys? She's a fragile flower that can't go to the store without an escort and can't under any circumstances live alone. She's not allowed to make her own goddamn decisions about anything.

Iris, like many main female characters, have beer flavored nipples. She cannot leave her home without guys assaulting her left, right and center. And I hate how those moments (they're many btw) feel so incredibly choreographed, because it's only so Dex can show up and get in the guy's face and save the day.
When Dex told her to button up her cardigan because she was showing a little to much collarbone(?), I wanted to reach into the book a slap him silly. Iris already dress like a sixty year old librarian. Why not just demand that she wear a burka?

It's also one of those books where she hates him, he acts like an asshole, sexual tension and then floodgates of mushy love.

I guess it had a little potential. And had it been less cliché and Iris had been given a backbone, then maybe I would have enjoyed it. Maybe.

Oh, and I hate how much Iris felt sorry for herself. It made me feel less sorry for her because of it. Having gone through everything that she had, I would think she'd have a little tougher skin. But if someone so much as looked at her funny her lip started quivering. It just didn't feel believable that she could be that meek with that upbringing. I mean, I'm not even that meek and life hasn't handed me that many lemons.

And this was sadly just the tip of the iceberg. So anyway, rant over.
Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,212 followers
November 27, 2016
Please see more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com

Although this was not the raunchy, offensive, biker romance that I had anticipated, I really liked 'Under Locke'. Unlike most MC romances, this story does not focus heavily around the debauchery of the clubhouse and the biker lifestyle. There is a little danger and some club business, but it is more in the background vs. being the central focus of the story.

'Under Locke' is a very slow-burn romance. It did take some time for me to get into this story. However, once I did, I was hooked. This author definitely didn't rush anything. I thought I would combust long before these two even kissed. There was plenty of anticipation and sexual frustration with this one!

Iris Taylor, aka "Ritz", has recently moved to Austin. Iris is broke and looking for a fresh start, after death and disease have upended her life. She is staying with her half-brother, Sonny, who has hooked her up with a job at a tattoo shop owned by his friend, Dex.

In no time, Iris figures out why Dex is in need of help. The guy is a royal a$$hole! He has managed to chase off a string of assistants before Ritz with his rude, insulting behavior. Dex has a total lack of patience and a hot temper. He says what he's thinking before stopping to think about how nasty or inappropriate his comments might be. Yeah, it took me a while to warm up to this guy.

Iris is the polar opposite of Dex. She's sweet and innocent, having missed out on a lot of life's experiences as she was forced at a young age to become the sole provider for her younger brother after her mother fell ill. After her mother's health issues, Iris was faced with her own health crisis and then the death of her grandmother. Needless to say, her life was not easy and it didn't allow a lot of time for the usual parties and dating that comprised the social life of most young women her age.

That being said, this book does have one of the big romance genre clichés that will drive some readers crazy. Iris is the quintessential naïve, good girl virgin. Dex is anything but virgin-like. He's the stereotypical manwhore that has slept around with a large part of Austin's female population without discrimination. This isn't really a problem for me, but I thought I'd mention it because I know it is something that many readers can't stand.

Despite their differences, Iris and Dex find themselves attracted to each other. Dex tries to stay away from Ritz out of loyalty to her brother. She tries to deny her attraction to him because she knows that he is nothing but trouble.

What follows is a series of absurdly jealous actions by Dex, while a clueless Iris wonders why he is acting like such a jerk. Perhaps if I was in a different mood when I listened to this story, I might have been irritated. As it is, I found their back and fort antics to be highly amusing.

One thing that the two of them have in common is deadbeat fathers. When Ritz's sperm donor messes with some dangerous people, Sonny and her are placed in danger. This led to some interesting situations and a mild sense of suspense. However, I can't say that I ever had that "on the edge of my seat" anxious feeling.

In the end, things work themselves out. There was plenty of back and forth throughout the book, followed by plenty of groveling. That was a big plus for me. I love it when my heroes have to do some groveling!

Overall, it was a nice, sweet story. It was different from other MC romances that I've read, but that was okay. This was my first book by this author, but definitely won't be my last.

Profile Image for Christy.
3,815 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2017
4 stars!!!

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Under Locke was another amazing read by the queen of slow-burn romance, Mariana Zapata. This was a little more than a slow-burn- it was a bit of a forbidden romance, an enemies to lovers story, and a brother’s friend story. Yes. A trifecta of awesomeness.

Iris Taylor’s life has been anything but easy. She’s had blow after blow since she was young, but that’s all in the past. She’s moving to Texas to start over. With the help of her older half brother, Sonny, she has a place to stay and a job to help get her back on her feet. The job is at a tattoo shop. That is where she meets Dex. Affectionately known as Dex the dick. Dex owns the shop, is friends with her brother, and a member of the MC her brother is a part of. And he’s a jerk to her at first.

I was not a fan of Dex to start out with, but he slowly made me warm up to him, and by the end, I ended up loving him. Iris was a character with so much strength and perseverance. There were moments I wanted to holler at her for keeping things, but overall I liked her so much! She and Dex made sort of an odd couple, but I loved them together!

Under Locke is not your typical MC book. It’s also a bit different than some of the other MZ books I have read. One of my favorite things about her writing is how she can make her books so different, yet the same in the way that makes me love them so much. As always, the audio book was fantastic. I flew through it looking for excuses to listen. I enjoyed this one lots! Recommended for all lovers of slow-burn romance.
There it was. That fierce loyalty. He didn't have a clue how that was the most attractive thing about him. It trumped his face, his ink, his body, everything. Dex Locke was true. He was grounded.
Profile Image for Arini.
772 reviews1,622 followers
September 16, 2021
2.75 stars

i could live without ever knowing that Dex (H) farted and what his junk looked like from the h’s unappealing descriptions, but his brand of alpha male-ness resembled that of KA’s heroes (he reminded me a lot of Tate from Sweet Dreams) and i kinda dug it. he might not be everyones cup of tea (especially if youve never read KA or an MC romance) with his rude, mean, and chauvinistic behavior, but i think his portrayal in regards to being a biker or a member of a motorcycle club was spot on.

the reason i didnt rate this higher was because of Iris (h). i think her character was meant to be that “shy, clueless, quirky” virgin girl whom we were supposed to think as cute, but she didnt pull it off. she was naïve, judgy with people she didnt know, and held grudges like no one else. she was of my age, and i like to think that i’d never make half the stupid decisions she did if i were in her position. she called Dex The Dick, but she was a hypocrite and i wish i could tell her to shove it up her ass.

(read as an audiobook)
Profile Image for Vickie*** .
341 reviews27 followers
January 22, 2014
HOLY crap!! Am I really the first person to review this book???

Well.... In case you were wondering, I got my money's worth on this book!!! It was long, not too long, loved the characters.

Iris was recommended to be a tattoo artist front desk lady by her half brother Sonny. Sonny is friends with the owner(?) of the tattoo shop, Dex. Now they definitely don't have any immediate sexual tension. Dex was an ass to her. Both Iris and Dex are bad with new people. Iris because she's just super shy, and Dex because he just doesn't like the process of people getting used to him, or that's what I gathered from his personality.

Though Iris was really shy, and a beginning.. a pushover, she never did get on my nerves. Recently, I've been feeling real judgy towards heroines. I just find something that always bothers me. Thinking about it now, I don't think I was ever like that with Iris.
Even though she's mousy, she's still really strong. She finds the positive in really shitty situations.

Dex is hawwtt! Sure in the beginning he was a dick to her, he had his reasons... not a reasonable reason, but a reason. I don't think he bothered me too.. GREAT CHARACTERS!!

This couple does have a somewhat slow buildup. They don't get intimate until the last half of the book. I didn't really mind that because the author didn't bore with unnecessary details. For an MC book, this book doesn't have much angst, and again I'm totally ok with that.

Overall, great read, worth my money, worth my time!!
Hopefully, you all enjoy this book as well as I did :D

Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
377 reviews307 followers
May 30, 2022
This one had me at “He was my boss.” Iris has moved to Austin and is working for Dex. I was definitely expecting a bad boy and a good girl get-together story, and that is what this is. However, Dex was horrible. He didn’t deserve Iris at all. I liked that we learned a lot more about Iris. She has had a lot of family issues, mostly father issues, and personal challenges as well. I also liked that she sometimes stood up for herself.

Safe to say that I didn’t like the romance in this one. I haven’t read a lot of bad boy good girl romance like this in a while, because honestly I just stopped liking them. If you still enjoy those kinds of books, this might be for you. I also wasn’t a fan of a lot of the many cringy stereotypes in this book.

I’ve read amazing books by Zapata. In fact “All Rhodes lead here” is one of my favorite romance books I’ve read. This is an older book by her so I’m not going to stop reading her books or something.

Profile Image for • Jodi Bibliophile •.
311 reviews1,094 followers
January 13, 2020
 photo IMG_5580.jpg

“Babe, I've handpicked everythin' and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want," he breathed. "And I keep what's mine.”


What the fucking fuck am I going to do with my fucking dull life now!!!!

Why did it have to end!!!!!

Oh my Dex.

I went 30 years without ever knowing you and now I can’t handle even one minute away from you.

I’m fucking RUINED!!

When I read my first book by this amazing author about 3 weeks ago I thought to myself ‘Holy fuck! This chick can fucking write’ – The Wall of Winnipeg and Me hit my all-time favourite book list.

I was addicted and needed more of her words.

Then came Kulti. Another fucking book that hit my favourite list - This NEVER HAPPENS!

By this time I was missing Aiden and Van and Kulti and Sal were still on my mind but I needed to move on....

On to another Mariana Zapata book that is.

Then came Under Locke.

Then came DEX FUCKING LOCKE and cute as a button Iris.

I was a fucking goner.

I will read this fucking authors grocery list.

She’s THAT FUCKING good.

I had the most amazing time reading this story.
I literally am full of emotions right now because I very rarely feel this way about books anymore and I’ve missed it so much.

Mariana writes the BEST heroines and Iris was so fucking cute!

She had me laughing my arse off with her quirky ways and I just fucking loved her.

Dex, fuck, I can’t even think about that bloke without my vagina hurting.

He was POSSESIVE as fuck! He was a fucking ARSEHOLE and he made me do a little sex wee.


I loved his filthy mouth and the way he said ‘Babe’ had me panting.

One of my top book boyfriends ever and I'm not sharing him with anyone!!!

I loved it.

I’ll never forget it as long as I fucking live and I want to read it all over again.

Not only one of my favourite books of the year but an all-time favourite too.

Profile Image for Sophia Triad.
2,239 reviews3,455 followers
January 10, 2020
Dex Locke: "You've gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted."
Iris Taylor: "I wanted to tell him that he was the best thing l never thought I'd have."

I met briefly Dex and Iris in Kulti's book. It was when Kulti went to Austin with Sal to have a tattoo and he had chosen the best shop, i.e. 'Pins and Needles'.
I loved Sal's description of Dex:
"I'd never been a fan of guys that looked like they'd gone to jail, but you'd have to be blind to not appeciate how good-looking the man was, even if he wasn't my type."
"My vagina didn't know what to do with itself."
And I loved Kulti's reaction:
"He's wearing a wedding ring."

Well, I had to read "Under Locke" after that. It turned out to be another amazing story by Marianna Zapata!
A slow burn romance story of course.

This time we have a biker with anger management issues (Dex) ... and a biker's daughter (Iris).
Iris knows nothing about Motorcycle clubs until she goes to stay with her half brother (Sonny) who is a member of the Widowmakers club, WMC.
Iris also does not know anything about piercings and tattoos until she starts working for Dex.
Finally Iris does not know much about sex until she starts sleeping with Dex.

Iris and Dex did not like each other from the beginning. Dex saw Iris as an obligation. Iris saw Dex as a brute who made her angry and sad all the time and as a result she wanted to quit, but she needed the money. It is a kind of 'enemies to lovers' story, but the hatred will not last long because the book is really long and before it finishes you will probably have forgotten that they hated each other in the beginning.

The book has its funny moments (Iris discovers the penis piercings), its painful moments (deaths, illnesses), its angst moments (Iris and Dex look for her douchebag father).
And of course my favourite grovelling moments (Dex has a lot to learn).

• I believe if you like Motorcycle Club stories, you will like this book.
• Also, if you don't like Motorcycle Club stories, most probably you will like the book

Win-win situation!
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,599 followers
March 13, 2016
Mariana Zapata is an amazing storyteller! First, I was captivated by Kulti, then fell madly in love with The Wall of Winnipeg, and now Under Locke has stolen my heart.

Dex is a douche to start, but Riss - without even trying - brings him to his knees and it was a thing of beauty to behold. They're such a fantastic couple!

This story is definitely edgier than those others I mentioned, and it's the closest to "just like Kristen Ashley" I've read.

No doubt about it...Ms. Zapata writes awesome characters whose lives and stories reach through the pages and grab hold of your heart. I can't wait to read more!

Thank you for Kindle Lend, Alissa!!
Profile Image for Isabella. R.
788 reviews1,470 followers
December 17, 2022
2 Nothing Wrong With My Judgement Stars ⭐

Ten years ago I loved Under Locke; not so much today. It seems I've evolved. I mean a heroine that has endured so much both mentally and physically, yet one insult and the world has ended?! Honestly Iris, was all the non existent drama worth it?

Handling Dex Locke would be like handling a scorpion. You were gonna get that poisonous sting at some point. Unfortunately for me, that sting had a taste for Iris Taylor.

Dex Locke tattooist, part time biker. Complete gorgeous badass who has to apologize over and over and over again to his employee who accepts apologies, to only change her mind. Not surprisingly, he has the hots for her. However it takes thousands upon thousands of pages for them to acknowledge it.

"You've gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted."

I get that MZ is the supposed Queen of Slow Burn, BUT fuck me, how many times must I read about melodramatic heroines who play the victim and men that are emotionally stunted? At times it works, and other times, it makes me grumpy and frustrated. Just once I'd love a story by this author that gets to the point.
Profile Image for Zizz.
619 reviews
February 3, 2014

It started out as this...

At some point, it turned into this

Cue a decade later and the baby ended up like this...

There was nothing explosive in this book. The story arc resembled a

That's not necessarily a bad thing. In lieu of a roller coaster ride, we had a slow burn. I love it when attraction gradually evolves into love. This book had the makings of something great:
1. A well developed love story. The plot was brimming with unresolved sexual tension;
2. A cold asshole for the H - just like the ones we all eventually fall in love with; and
3. A funny h...She had golden nuggets of humor at certain moments. Not that common to turn this into a sorry comedy of a book.

But at a certain point, the story began to drag. If you are not going to incorporate peaks and valleys into your plotline, you need to make it concise. This one dragged out the story after awhile that even though the "deed" did not happen until closer to 80%, I was no longer that invested and resorted to skimming the last 20%. Bummer, really...
Profile Image for Aisling Zena.
635 reviews462 followers
August 28, 2018
Re-read 6/11/17, 28/8/18

4.5 stars

I might be late for the Mariana Zapata bandwagon but I finally got here! I wont do a full review as there are already many amazing ones out there.

If like me you haven't had a chance to read this fantastic author, I suggest you bump her books up your tbr list and pronto! If you haven't heard of her please check her out she is totally worth it. A master of the slow build romance. Do give her a try!

While reading this, Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls kept playing in my head. I don't know if it was because of her name or the meaning or if it was an inspiration but I found it fitting to the book.


And to my fellow pervs, closeted and not, I have two words for you : Dick piercing.


Go forth and enjoy!
Profile Image for Poonam.
605 reviews503 followers
May 3, 2017
I know Zapata books are famous for the slow-burn romances. I loved her other book Kulti which made me decide to read some of her other books.
Dex and Iris make a guest appearance in Kulti which made me select this as my next read as I really wanted to know more about them.

Even before I started with this one, I knew looking at some of the reviews this is not as good as Kulti and my verdict is the same. It is nowhere near as good as Kulti. It maybe unfair to compare it to another book even though they are by the same author but somehow as a reader, after reading Kulti certain expectations and standards were set.

Iris starts working in an Tattoo parlor under duress and her boss is Dex Locke. Iris and Dex start their work relation on the wrong footing:
"So in my head it made sense that my work day had been spent A)ignoring Dex, B)avoiding Dex, and C)getting to know my coworkers slowly."

Now after knowing the name of the main characters the title does sound a bit cheesy.

I liked that there was more to it than just the romance . The character of Iris is what made me continue with this story.

The romance aspect of it moved very slowly but it works well with the story. It is a very laid-back story without any angst.

I am not a fan of Biker Romances and this is what it is. That part of it somehow did not click with me.
Somethings were left unresolved even in the epilogue and I really want to know what happened
Overall a very average one time read and hence the 2 stars.
Profile Image for Giorgia Reads.
1,010 reviews1,955 followers
March 24, 2020

Just re-read this because M. Zapata has it as a freebie on Amazon (in case anyone is interested) and I had it on KU last time.

Anyway, it was as good as I remembered. I’ve noticed things that escaped me before - or rather, I didn’t appreciate as much before. I was saying a million Hell Yes’es in my head while Iris was giving Dex some lessons in human interaction 101 lol.

But honestly, I totally loved Iris. She had loads of self respect. Was she insecure and naive at times? Sure. But at the core she was strong. Despite saying how hot Dex was about 10000x times she didn’t once act like she lost her brain cells because of it.

Dex was ... Dex. I mean I did like the guy. He gave me some really alpha male vibes, I’d just rather praise Iris cause she was the more interesting character for once. Sure, he had layers too, but this is one of those very few times in a romance book that I loved how the heroine acted, talked and held her own. (She did some pretty stupid shit at some point but I mean we all have our tstl moments - and it was just a moment, not a pattern of behaviour lol)

Also, I wanna mention that this might be the only book where I really don’t mind the 24 yr heroine being a virgin. I mean, I kinda get how that would happen in her situation. Could I do without that tidbit and the double standard it usually enforces? Sure. Was it perpetuating a trend where the heroines need to be pure to be more worthy? NO. It really did make sense for her and her individual situation.

Long story short... I need another Zapata slow burn and I think the time has come for From Lukov with Love.
Profile Image for SamJ ★Needs a HEA★.
609 reviews861 followers
March 10, 2016
I loved this.

Admittedly, it took me a couple of chapters to get into it, at first the writing seems a bit choppy and a cpl of times I had to go back a page or two to remind myself of a question a character had asked.

However, once it settles and who was who, what connected them and the history of the characters made itself known, it just flowed and I started to really enjoy it.

Iris Taylor has had a hard life. She has had to move across country and move in with her half brother who is part of the MC club their father used to be part of. Sonny gets her a job with a fellow Widow MC member at his tattoo shop.

Charles Dexter Locke (aka Charlie or The Dick) does not get off to the best start with Iris "Ritz".

On her second day in the job she hears him insulting her. And boy can this girl hold a grudge. It went on for a few weeks, but she is fully aware of how unreasonable it is in all honesty, she just cant help herself!

I was surprised by how nice everyone had been-with the exception of Dex's dumb face.
All of this assured me that I'd avoided having to interact much with my boss. The owner. The bleeding mouth sore.

The snot-faced ass hole that I only kind-of, sort-of hoped came down with an infectious illness in his private parts. But you know, something he could get medicine for.


Dex was a temperamental bag of beaver dung.

ooh, and my favourite, which I think will become my insult of choice for the next few months Duke Dickface

But it has been said there is a fine line between love and hate.

Iris, at first she took Dex's crap, while insulting him in her mind and giving knee capping rights to her brother, but soon she starts to stand up for herself and is not going to take his crap any more.

Over the next few weeks they slowly start to get to know each other, slowly becoming friends and then more. It was lovely to watch their relationship change and grow from where it first started.

There was no real angst in their relationship once it had grown to a point of being more than friends....any conflict was from outside their relationship...mainly Iris's deadbeat dad and his issues causing them trouble.

It is rare I like the heroine as much as the hero in a book, but I really liked Iris, with her insults and "That's what she said" jokes and high fives. There was just something very endearing about her.

And Dex, yes he was a dick at first, but as we get to know him better and how he interacts and deals with Iris, you could not help but fall in love with him too The Kindest, grumpy ass man in all of Texas

All in all, it was a hugely enjoyable read, and the slow build up of the relationship between Dex and Iris was beautiful to experience.

"you've gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted"


"Seen a lot of things in my life - But you" His nostrils flared "my sweet, sweet baby, have gotta be my favourite by far"

An excellent 5 star read for me.

I would love to read about Sonny, Tripp, the guys from the tattoo parlour and even Luther!

Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
June 18, 2022
TW for cancer and death of a loved one

I'm finally making my way through the rest of Mariana Zapata's backlist, and this was a solid read! I love an older, grumpy hero and Locke works in the tattoo shop that Iris just got a job at. He's in an MC, and I feel like this is a great introduction to MC romances. While they faced some danger with rival MCs, this wasn't super dark and the characters didn't talk like the darker MC romance characters talk. Instead, Locke was just very protective over Iris and wanted to make sure she was taken care of. There was a lot of forced proximity and it was sweet how Iris and Locke started to grow closer and had some inside jokes. Iris had to go through a lot when she was younger, and I loved how strong of a character she was. She was dealing with things with her brothers and just trying to take care of herself and her family. I loved how both Iris and Locke worked in a tattoo shop and how that was a big part of the storyline and what they did together. It was a long book and pretty slow burn, but that's what you expect from Mariana Zapata. While this isn't a new all-time favorite from Mariana Zapata, I had a lot of fun reading it!
Profile Image for Matilda.
250 reviews1,541 followers
September 25, 2022
3.75 stars

can’t say i didn’t enjoy this but it was entirely forgettable. this is probably the only time i’ve rounded a book down despite give it a .75 star 🧍🏻‍♀️

the dialogue was cringey, the heroine was annoying (especially when she kept holding what the hero said over his head for so fucking long like...GET OVER IT GIRL!), and the plot was eh but it’s MZ sooo 👩🏻‍🦯

reading all the reviews about how people hate the hero kinda made me like him more. i love assholes (even tho he was pretty mild to me)

also, i got the ick when the hero farted causing the heroine to gag from the smell 🫠

It started as a whisper, a hiss, a pssssssssst.
And then it grew progressively louder before the smell hit me.
“Oh my God," I wheezed, smothering my mouth with my hand. "Did you crap your pants?"

without a doubt the hottest MZ book i’ve read but why did the heroine’s cherry when the hero fingered her 😭 that could have been left out of the final copy 🫶🏻
Profile Image for Hayley.
Author 2 books4,083 followers
May 7, 2023
okay, mariana, idk what this was, but i’m gonna pretend it didn’t happen
Profile Image for Belle.
512 reviews515 followers
February 25, 2020
5/5 stars


this is beginning to get ridiculous, but I still adore this book every time I read it, it's my comfort read

SO I reread this only a week after finishing it, I just couldn't get the characters out of my head and I didn't want to read anything but this. And I don't regret a thing. I loved it just as much the second time around, I relate hardcore to Iris and I just want a Dex for myself. I highlighted some of my favourite passages this time around so I'm just going to add them into the review.

HOLY HELL. I loved this book more than I can say, I was up wayy too late finishing this and I could not put it down. Dex was the ultimate male—protective, tattooed, accomplished and so, so attractive.

AND HE IS A TATTOO ARTIST?! um hell yes, please & thank you.

This book follows Iris as she moves in with her half-brother Sonny, a member of the Widow MC. Iris takes a job as a receptionist at Dex's tattoo parlor, another fellow Widow biker who immediately does not like the look of Iris. The two immediately butt heads, they banter and they bicker and I loved it.

Slowly they're brought together when rival gangs come looking for the money that Iris and Sonny's father owed them, making the siblings collateral damage.

I adored Iris, I loved every awkward moment and dialog and I couldn't get enough of her. Iris was a character who had battled through an extremely tough life, losing her mother and grandmother, leaving her to finish raising her brother while battling health issues. I originally found her character to be a little meek, but when her background was discovered, it gave me a new appreciation for her character.

I don't think every female character has to be tough as nails on the outside to be admired. She was resilient and bounced back no matter what life threw at her, sometimes they're the people that win the most respect from me. I related to her so much, I'm a person who wears their heart on their sleeve.

"Then again, I always wanted to cry. I cried when I was happy, sad, excited and frustrated with life. And I hated it. Especially now."

This book was fun, angsty and adorable, I loved every moment and it ended way too quickly. This had a Kristen Ashley vibe to it, probably reminding me most of her book Sweet Dreams. The relationship between the characters and the build-up is extremely similar!

And just try and say no to this man.

Dex is a man who loves Firefly. Um, I couldn't ask for anything more.

"You like Firefly. That's pretty nerdy."

Profile Image for Yeasmin Alo .
190 reviews292 followers
February 6, 2021
🔞💦T-H-I-R-S-T💦 TRAP🔞

Charlie Dexter Locke:

"But you," his nostrils flared, "my sweet, sweet baby, have gotta be my favorite by far. I think you win first through one-hundredth place."


His teeth nipped at my jaw. "Love you like this," he murmured. "All soft and wet for me, baby." Dex thrust hard, making me cry out. "My own sweet little pussy… all mine… isn't that right, honey?"

"You're doin' so fuckin' good, baby—squeeze—shit, squeeze me a little harder, honey. Just like that—yeah."

His tongue traced the oval shape of my chin. "But I'm not a good man, and I'm gonna take everythin' you want to give me and everythin' you don't."

Before whenever I heard anyone using baby/bae in every sentence I would cringe so hard 🤣
But Now I wait for Dex's bae / baby 🥺 / honey in every freaking sentence 😆
I swear I would get anxious if he didn’t start his sentence with bae /baby 😂
I'll be like Iris (h)!! What did you do now huh!!

Dang MZ also accentuated Dex's Texan accent 🥺 Y'all I got so despo that I had to Google how Texan accent sounds like 😭
I might have watched few Texan/ southern accent related videos 😇
I might have also Googled certain type of piercing.......but we won't talk about that 🙈

That's it!!!
all I am sayin' you gotta read this book ASAP and Charlie Daddy Dexter Locke (Dex) is Taken 💅 😌
Profile Image for Renegade ♥.
1,339 reviews
October 11, 2022

Reread via audiobook.

Callie Dalton always does a great job re: narration.



5 stars

Another one by Ms. Zapata to add to my favorites shelf. *smile*

Also want to mention that I really enjoyed the narration/audiobook by Callie Dalton.

(I would definitely listen to more from CD in future, as I loved her narration/performance of Kulti as well.)


ETA on 01/26/18

Wrote this in one of my group threads so I'm adding it here:

UL has a KA like feel, was a slow burn to some degree (though definitely not to the degree of Kulti or The Wall of Winnipeg and Me) and Locke can be a mean SOB at times (with his crazy temper and don't give a eff attitude). That being said, the story unfolds in what was an entertaining (and often hilarious) fashion (for me) and by the end? I felt Iris 'Ritz' and Dex 'Charlie' had something real together and that they'd go the distance. I gave this one 5 stars because I loved the narration, was totally sucked in by the story, and know I'll read/listen to it again for sure someday. It's not gonna be everyone's cuppa, but if it's for you? You'll probably know it pretty fast.
Profile Image for Apoorva .
166 reviews171 followers
September 3, 2021
Edit: Re-read a few good parts because this is one of Zapata's books that I have selective memory for🙈 (yes that implies that I am BIASED).

Okay so I'm gonna go ahead and say this- I totally had a love-hate relationship with this one for like 60-70%. One minute I liked them and the next I was shaking my head so hard, my neck was aching.

This review isn't going to be coherent at all, and as it is there are a lot of amazing ones.
Did I like this? Duh. Of course yes! It's Mariana Zapata and it's hard to not like anything by her. (Yeah, I am biased)
I felt more connected to Iris in this one as opposed to both characters, like in Zapata's other books. Don't misunderstand- I liked Dex a hell lot but just not as much as I liked Iris in this one. She was a little naive, but also innocent, loyal and I could see that she had toughened up by the end. I loved her 'that's what she said' moments. I also liked how she went from woe-is-me to badass chick the next moment. She didn't let bad things hold her down or wallow in self pity for too long.

Dex, my man- it was difficult not to like him by the end. At almost 50% I was oscillating between "What the hell, man?" and "Aw he's so good". He was short tempered (ha), possessive, so.....alpha-like (but not in the typical way of MC Bikers bitch, more like protective), and fiercely loyal. That was one thing that I felt was the most common between the two- they were really loyal. And it doesn't bother that he was hot. Iris was all swoony after him since the start, but not when he was actually talking to her, so it was nice to see that she didn't let the lower half of her body control the upper half. But I get that girl- if it were me, I would be swooning too- but only from a distance. God knows bikers aren't for me. 😂

I abso-friggin-lutely loved Sonny and Slim! Sonny was an amazing brother- protective, not too overbearing but not entirely laid back either. I would go as far to say that he was a little more (don't shoot) protective and loving than Dex. And yes Ms Zapata, this is my way of demanding politely requesting another book from you. Slim was a terrific friend too, he would win all the brownie points if I ever gave even one.

So there, this thing is just for the record- to entice me to read it again and remind me how much I wanted to punch and then hug Iris and Dex. And I'm probably reminiscing the time when they made an appearance in Kulti *sigh*.
Profile Image for D.L. Howe.
Author 13 books376 followers
July 26, 2021

Well isn’t he just a ray of fucking sunshine!

Wow! I need to thank Annette for the recommendation because this was surprisingly steamy!

The relationship with Sonny is super sweet. I love how they weren’t raised together but still held onto a deep connection.

MZ’s men always appear to hate when people are mad at them. I can totally relate. I rarely hold grudges and apologize even if it’s not necessary because I’d prefer to keep the peace.

When Slim suggested Iris getting a piercing and all that ensued … well this book is definitely dirtier than any MZ I’ve read before. Why the hell am I blushing?!

Dex’s reaction to her 2 week notice letter was beyond endearing, it was perfect. 😍

Jaysus! She got off pretty lightly after that stupid move.

Gawd! She’s too good at making me cry, it’s so easy to relate to these characters!

It’s both antiquated and adorable that he’s insisting she can’t live by herself. Typically MC biker … why is that shit so hot?!

Holy smokes the hotel room in Florida?! 🥵🔥
Like I honestly had no idea MZ had it in her to write a scene like that!

Dex Locke is a realistic (temperamental), controlling, yet incredibly sweet and caring cinnamon roll of perfection. The best part is how affectionate he is, especially in front of the MC.

Ironically this is one of the shorter books and I kinda thought it got a little long winded. But that’s the only complaint I have.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,827 reviews2,186 followers
March 19, 2018
3.5 stars

"You've gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted."

This is the story of Iris, broke and living with her brother, she takes a job at a tattoo parlor. Unfortunately her new boss is a total jerk. She just has to work there long enough to get another job elsewhere....

“Babe, I've handpicked everythin' and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want," he breathed. "And I keep what's mine.”

The first half of this book I really enjoyed, the second half got a little bit boring for me and could have been edited down in my opinion. I love Zapata's books but this is probably my least favorite of the ones I've read by her. It's like pizza though, even if it's not great it's still good.

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Profile Image for Sheryl C. Nash.
1,714 reviews430 followers
January 24, 2014
LOVED IT!!! I loved how sweet and funny it was and most of all I loved how NON-GRITTY it was!!! I get that being in a MC is not all rainbows and unicorns, but I honestly do not need to read the brutal aspects of it hence why this book was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for me!!!

Sure, there seemed to be elements of KA in this book, but heck, KA inspired lots of indie writers out there and I for one LOVE KA and her writing, so if I read it and it reminds me of KA AND its not a rip off (and it wasn't at all the case here), ITS ALL GOOD!!!

And HOT-DAMN when those steamy moments came along *FANS MYSELF*... suffice to say it wasn't only Iris's panties that got wet *SMIRK*!!! And Dex.... OMG WHAT A FREAKIN' ALPHA HOTTIE!!!!
Profile Image for ✰ Liz ✰ .
1,349 reviews1,262 followers
March 17, 2019
"You’ve gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted."

Under Locke is another brilliant slow burn romance by the "Slow Burn Queen" Mariana Zapata! With forbidden romance, motorcycles, a smoking hot tatted bad boy, and one spunky heroine, Under Locke is 497 pages of pure goodness. Iris Taylor just moved to Austin and lands a job working as a receptionist at a tattoo shop. Her boss Dex is everything Iris is NOT! He is cocky, gruff, and confident. Although Iris is determined to embrace this amazing opportunity for a fresh start, she cannot help but be completely smitten with her bad boy boss. When Iris finds herself in a world of trouble, Dex is quick to offer Iris his protection, friendship, and love!

"The urge to fall to the ground, rip my heart out of my chest and hold it out like a sacred offering was overwhelming."
Under Locke is another complex story with lyrical writing, action, and slow burn romance at its finest! Iris and Dex are complete opposites and yet together they make a perfect match. Although both main characters carry a great deal of baggage, together they are able to overcome so much! As always, Ms. Zapata's writing is fluid and beautifully constructed with a cast of unforgettable characters, passion, and beautiful romance!
"Baby, just ‘cuz you’re cute doesn’t mean I wasn’t bein’ serious about spankin’ your tight little ass for doin’ dumb shit, Ritz. You do it again, and you’re gonna get it."
Overall, Under Locke would appeal to MC Romance fans or slow burn romance lovers! I highly recommend any and all of Mariana Zapata's work. Her writing is deliciously addictive!

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Profile Image for ⊱✿⊰ Alicia ⊱✿⊰ .
550 reviews473 followers
April 14, 2019
4 Stars!!

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Mariana is the queen of slow burn, as I have said before I am not usually a fan but so far I have enjoyed all of Mariana's books. I found Under Locke didn't have as strong of a plot as her other books and at times I did get a little bored but it picked up.

Iris moved to Texas after her younger brother Will who she'd been raising joined the military. She moved in with her older half brother who is a member of the Widowmakers MC, the same club her no good father was a part of.

 photo gettingtattooed_zpspbxzyaiu.gif

Iris's brother gets her a job at 'Pins and Needles' the local tattoo shop. The owner of the shop is a massive, tattooed, gorgeous alpha named Drex Locke, from their first meeting it is obvious that Dex and Iris have something as the chemistry is sizzling. There are a lot of things holding them or should I say Iris back from starting something. There were times I nearly DNF because of Iris's stupid and annoying behaviour but I kept with it and I'm pleased I did as I ended up really enjoying it.

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When Iris FINALLY see's the light and allows herself to feel something for Dex and gives herself to him it is seriously HOT!!

Lots of family drama, some suspense and lots of hot alpha tattooed men made for an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews288 followers
October 1, 2015

Ever since reading the book that literally put me in the worst book slump ever, because it was so effing fantastic, I've made it my mission to read everything MZ has or will ever write. That book is Kulti. I still get goose bumps when I see it. It might seem irrational? Maybe others who've read it are scratching their heads, but to me, it was the gold standard.
Anyways...this was really, really good. I loved it. I'm also glad I waited so long after finishing Kulti, because anything would have paled compared to that and I wanted my mind open and not hung up on how good this author's previous book was. I've seen this being compared to Kristen Ashley's work...hmmm...yes. I see that. BUT. But it wasn't like it either, from what I've read by her, anyway.
KA seems to have cornered the market on rough and tough alphas that don't say a lot but are sexy and dominant as sin. Since I've read those types of characterizations before, I just wanted to emphasize that they've been around a long time, just written with a different spin. Take Christian Grey, for example. And a plethora of others, they all fit that characterization so why does one author seem to only get the credit? What I'm trying to say is I didn't think Dex Locke was classic KA. Besides, I really liked Iris, the heroine, and at least I saw why she was special, unlike some of KA's heroines. I'm not dissing, just pointing out some differences.

I usually don't like MC books, but again, this author can probably make me like anything I've sworn off. There was an urgency in finishing this. The pacing was fantastic, I was never bored and this baby was long. There was also a nice, slow burn...I adore those. I loved Dex, but hated him at first. He was so mean sometimes! But as he got to see Iris for who she was and not what he thought, things changed drastically. Dex was sexy and sweet, aggressive yet tender. Iris was a great girl. Having gone through so much I was glad she ended up with a man like Dex. This was also very hot. Never overdone, but extremely sexy. I remember towards the end of Kulti there was a scene where Kulti and Sal head to a tattoo place run by a Dex Locke. They meet a woman named Iris, too. It's funny that I later read that those characters were from MZ's previous book, then when I finally read this I felt like racing back and re-reading that scene in Kulti with them. Both books are standalones though, and completely unrelated, so no worries.
Anyways, loved this!
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