Review – Falling Under (Ink & Chrome #2) by Lauren Dane

Falling Under cover image

Publisher: Forever
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the custom motorcycle shop Twisted Steel, is great with his hands and not afraid to get dirty . . . especially in his fantasies about his redheaded neighbor Carmella Rossi.

Carmella has been secretly lusting after her hot, tattooed neighbor for the last three years. His gravelly voice combined with the throaty purr of his custom bike never fails to send thrills down her spine. When Duke asks her to join him at the shop, she can’t say no. Soon their days together spill over into nights that bring her pleasure beyond anything she imagined. But Carmella grew up with bikers, and knows how bad a bad boy can be. Can she put herself at risk for someone who has heart-breaker written all over him?
This blurb came from Goodreads

If you are familiar with our site, you will know that Dane is a favorite author. In June MinnChica and I reviewed Opening Up, the first of Dane’s Ink and Chrome series which we really enjoyed so it is great to be back this month talking about Falling Under the second in this series. Like, always Dane populates her worlds with memorable characters who have complete lives with their own hobbies, close friendships, and families with the good and bad they bring. Watching the spheres collide as a bond grows between her central characters adds a welcome depth to the romance.

Twisted Steel’s business was booming. The addition of custom paint jobs by Asa’s girlfriend PJ had brought increased attention so they were increasingly dependent on having someone keep their books, manage the office, and do the billing to keep Duke and Asa free to bring in more customers and deliver the quality finished product Twisted Steel was known for. So when their office manager told them she was quitting and moving across the country Duke leaped at the opportunity to convince his neighbor to work for them. The benefit of having the woman he fantasized over working closely with him just made the idea that much more attractive.
Carmella was living on her severance pay while covering the expenses of two separate households and being responsible for her mother’s wellbeing. A task made extremely difficult by the self-destructive and selfish behavior of her mother. So when Duke offered the job she didn’t think too long before deciding to give it a try, all with a mental lecture about keeping her hands and her mouth to herself and off of him. As she became more comfortable with the job and gradually imposed her sense of organization on the shop, her attraction to Duke grew yet she remained wary.

Duke and Carmella were a fun study of opposites. Duke was used to being the person everyone opened up to. He was charming, never met a lady he didn’t like or who didn’t like him and was used to being the one with the answers. Carmella on the other hand was used to only really depending on herself. Her aunt, uncle, and cousin were wonderful but as much as they supported her they didn’t always agree with her choices. Add in her mother ‘s lifetime of horrid behavior and Carmella’s ex-husband, the last thing she wanted was to be a serious relationship let alone with someone who bore some external similarities to the negative influences in her life. As Carmella and Duke started enjoying a physical relationship while their friendship grew, she kept a separation between what they did and the rest of her life. Then Duke stumbled on something and it hit one of his trigger buttons so his reaction in turn hit one of Carmella’s.

I really enjoyed watching them eventually work through the issue even as Duke made a few more missteps in his attempt. Carmella’s family issues continued to grow and were a huge obstacle to their relationship so I was very glad to see Duke discover his own family issues were more than those caused by very different personalities. It leveled the field on the family side and I think helped give Carmella the courage not to run from what they were creating. Dane’s ability to use some of life’s ugly messiness as part of what shapes her characters while giving them the strength not to settle is something I love reading. Her characters aren’t perfect so when they reach for the stars and grab one I feel like cheering.

I am really enjoying Dane’s stories about tattooed men, the machines they rebuild, and the strong women who turn their lives inside out and Falling Under is certainly on the list. Duke and Carmella were enjoyable on their own and seeing them together along with the friends just increased my enjoyment. As this series has progressed several hints have been mentioned about Mick, the most haunted of the trio, and given the bombshell he dropped I really can’t wait to read his story. Once again Dane has proven why she remains on my autobuy list.

I give Falling Under an A

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