So, I have clearly been tearing through Mariana Zapata's books. I really liked Kulti and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, so I picked up Under Locke, too, as well as another title (review forthcoming). As with the other books, UL is a slow-burn romance, though this one does come to fruition somewhat sooner than the others; I think it still has plenty of build to qualify as "slow-burn" though. The story follows Iris as she moves back to her native city of Austin to crash with her half-brother following the loss of her job. Her brother hooks her up with a job at Pins & Needles, a tattoo and piercing shop owned by Dex Locke. Dex is also a member of the same motorcycle club, the Widowmakers, that Iris' brother belongs to.
Dex is...kind of an ass, really. I liked him much less than Reiner Kulti and Aidan Graves in the other Zapata books I've read so far. While Kulti and Graves were more reserved than anything else, Dex is outright mean at multiple points. There was definitely some chemistry between Dex and Iris (and I did like how he called her Ritz, I thought it was a cute nickname) but the way he treated her at times just rubbed me the wrong way. People with anger problems, to the point of throwing chairs against walls, are really not appealing to me as romantic leads, so that was a definite tick against this.
The "plot" here involves Iris' deadbeat dad, who apparently owes money to a ton of people, which causes problems for Iris and her half-brother because they're viewed as collateral, even though Iris knows that they don't really mean much to him. While her brother goes off to find their dad and make him pay up, Iris ends up staying with Dex, which is of course where their relationship really starts to build despite their constant sniping at each other. Does Dex have his sweet moments? Yes, he does, but his overall emotional instability was grating throughout the book. And then there's the problem prevalent throughout Zapata's books, where the heroine despises all women except the Token Female Friend. In this case, the Friend doesn't even appear in the book though she is mentioned. Instead, there is the Token Female Coworker who has maybe a dozen lines throughout the book and is, much like the TFF, a nonentity at best. While Iris had some background that was interesting (I think this is a strength of Zapata's) and the plot was decidedly different from the other books, the "hero" such as he is just didn't do it for me.
2.5 stars out of 5.