Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Opening Up

Opening Up (Ink & Chrome #1)

by Lauren Dane


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane delivers Book#1 in her Ink &; Chrome erotic romance series.
The men of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop are great with their hands... and they're not afraid to get dirty.
PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn't need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he's ever seen. But the chemistry between them won't be denied, and soon he's introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she's ever experienced. PJ finds she can't get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating:  
Dane strikes gold again with her new Ink and Chrome series revolving around the sexy and raw men that find comfort in tattoos, piercings, cars, and bikes… really all the interests that make a good badass! I was reluctant to start a new series, especially one that is said to be another simple contemporary romance, mainly since Dane’s work is usually so erotic I thought she might have headed in a more mainstream direction for this series, which might have left me missing some of her magic.  Boy how wrong was I!?! It’s obvious that some of the more interesting parts of erotic romance are becoming more popular and mainstream making it easier for the naughty stuff to be marketed.  Opening Up was definitely not your normal cut and dried contemporary romance, instead working in some seriously kinky, but still romantic moments, some VERY intriguing body art and jewelry.  I enjoyed every second of it and cannot wait to read more along this line.  The characters were interesting, the setting and overall plot was packed with emotion and drama and the secondary characters gave the story that extra bit of life really needed to make a series fabulous.  Dane has met my every desire as usual, even if the story is not marketed to its full greatness.  Definitely a series that is right up my alley!
PJ has given up on ever pleasing her father and boss, at least consciously, but she is determined to make a name for herself in the car industry that she loves.  She is willing to give up just about anything, but when she meets Asa she is just as determined that they explore their mutual chemistry and their obvious connection.  But Asa has his own preconceptions about PJ and while he lusts for her, he knows she’s not the right girl for him.  When a night of explosive passion shows Asa just how much he could come to care for PJ he decides that the risk to his heart and his steady lifestyle is not worth it.  PJ really wants to have Asa in her life and bed, but she is done letting the men in her life tell her what’s good for her and how she should be living her life, so she will just move on with her life without him.  As PJ’s professional life changes drastically, Asa begins to see that he definitely underestimated her and he wants another chance, but it’ll take some serious groveling and change on his part to allow PJ to risk her heart again.  And with the heartbreak coming from every angle can PJ find a way to let Asa have her heart and trust him enough to cherish that gift?
PJ was a woman that has never had the emotional support and stability many of us gets from our families, but despite that she has found her own way in life and made herself into a successful and amazing woman.  When she decides to go after something or someone she wants, there is no way she won’t reach her goals, even if it causes her pain both emotional and physical.  She has always been the odd woman out, the rebel of the family and so the family has overlooked her for long enough.  I loved seeing her stand up for what she wanted and going after her goals, especially when her own family neglected to recognize her abilities.   Asa is obviously who she wants to be hers, but when he dismisses her and shows her that he cannot really appreciate her awesomeness, she is quick to move on and show him just what his stupidity is costing him.  She is able to use her wit and intelligence as well as her sweetness and sensuality to show Asa that she is the woman for him, and when he does embrace their relationship, she is a big enough woman that she doesn’t lord his idiocy over his head—much. PJ is just the type of woman I strive to be and maybe I will use her for my inspiration for MY next ink. :)
Asa was such an Ass through the first part of this story that I wanted to kick him right in the nuts… no joke.   He obviously has some issues from his past, but he let that color his interactions with PJ entirely too much for my liking.  I can understand that he was wary of her in the beginning, thinking she was too young and naïve for him, but after their months of flirting and getting to know one another, long before they made it to “dating”, he really should have known better.  Once he gets himself back in order and throws out his misconceptions I began to really, really love him. He was sweet as all get out, but maintained his rough and sexually charged personality, making him the perfect match for the sassy and loving PJ.  He so obviously cares deeply for those he lets into his circle and when he confronts PJ’s family on her behalf we see the warrior side of him and it makes me wish I could find one just like him living around here so I could kidnap him and make him mine.  (Insert maniacal laughter!)  Overall Asa was the type of hero I like to read even though he frustrates me;  a man with a darker side, both in bed and out, Asa had issues to overcome, but once he did he showed how truly great he was as a man, lover, mate, and friend to PJ. 
Opening Up really was an apt title for this story about two people that are very different on the surface but deep down are so alike and obviously made to be the perfect match for one another. Asa and PJ both opened to so many possibilities and changes in this story that neither of them were the same person in the end, making this story one truly about human transformation and the power of our minds and heart to adapt and expand as things come our way.  PJ was a woman that knew her own mind, regardless what others thought, and she refused to give up her dreams no matter who tore her down and how often they did it.  When the truth of her relationship with her father comes out I felt more connected to her character than ever since I have experienced a similar situation, and seeing Asa support her through that and give her all the love she needed gave me hope of finding my own supportive mate.  Asa was a man that needed his head to get pushed to the back  so his heart could tell him what was really good for him.  Once he stops thinking himself out of his connection and emotional need for PJ he becomes a better man and I fell in love with him.  Overall the story was heart-wrenching at moments, sensually heated at others and sweetly loving the remainder of the story.  Dane has a way with her characters that brings them to life making you feel like you are truly invested in their lives and happiness, a skill which so many new writers overlook in their desire to produce, produce, produce.  Sometimes a true masterpiece takes time and a little piece of the author’s heart.  I am dying to know who will be the match for Duke and am hoping for Mick to get a story as well.  Thanks for the new adventures to come Lauren, can’t wait to meet more Ink and Chrome guys. 

*eBook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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