Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle and hot rod shop, may devote his days to chrome and leather, but his nights belong to Carmella. His sultry redheaded neighbor has a smile like an angel and a body built for sin, and for the past year both have dominated Duke’s dreams. When a problem at Twisted Steel requires a fast fix, Duke sees his chance to finally make his fantasy a reality.
Ever since she first heard the low rumble of his engine, Carmella Rossi has wondered if Duke Bradshaw handles his women as expertly as he handles his bike. When he shows up at her door offering her a much-needed job at his shop, she gets her chance to find out. Beneath Duke’s masterful touch, Carmella soon submits to a world of unimaginable pleasure.
But history has taught Carmella how bad a boy boy can be. If she doesn’t put on the brakes fast, her hard-bodied heartbreaker could drive her right over the edge . . .
Falling Under, book two in Lauren Dane’s Ink & Chrome series, continues the story of the men of Twisted Steel, a custom build car and motorcycle shop, and the women they fall for. Ms. Dane can write a character driven romance like nobody’s business. I adored book one, Opening Up, about Asa and PJ. That story, like its two main characters, is intense, sexually charged, and leaps at you in vivid color.
Falling Under takes us into Duke and Carmella’s lives and, while no less compelling, conveys a much different vibe based on their personalities. Ms. Dane doesn’t write cookie cutter novels. She doesn’t plop same character/different name into a Doppelgänger plot. It is precisely this that makes me eager to read each new offering by this wonderful author.
Duke Bradshaw has been admiring his neighbor Carmella Rossi for a couple of years now. She is gorgeous in an old fashioned, pin-up girl kind of way with her luscious curves and long red hair. Everything about her has his man parts begging for an introduction. However, she’s been rather elusive and he’s been consumed with Twisted Steel. And, up until recently, he’s been quite satisfied dating oodles of women, often more than one at a time. But lately he finds himself envying Asa and PJ’s strong connection; their intimacy and sense of partnership. Duke is thinking THIS is what’s missing in his life. He’s also thinking he knows who he wants to fill that blank spot. He just has to convince her to give him a shot.
Carmella Rossi has been secretly lusting after her neighbor, Duke Bradshaw. The growl of his Harley as he pulls into his driveway always sets her heart pounding and her terrier Ginger spinning with excitement. Carmella has spoken to Duke a time or two and he’s made a habit of offering Ginger doggie treats. His tall, ruggedly handsome, works-with-his-hands look and sensual self confidence is everything she loves in a man. Add to that a Zen surfer temperament and he’s just about perfect. But Carmella has learned her lesson in regard to bad boy bikers and grease monkeys. Duke Bradshaw is definitely one to be avoided. When he shows up offering her a full time job as office manager for Twisted Steel she is torn. In dire need of a job, she’d be a fool to turn down the offer. The amazing Mr. Bradshaw as her boss? Holy bad idea, Batman. However, this job would give her independence and the ability to make her own choices. Carmella’s years of dealing with an ungrateful, demanding mother who is queen of bad choices has made her vow she would do whatever it takes to keep from depending on anyone else to survive. She will accept Duke’s offer and give her libido a stern lecture to keep her girlie mitts away from him at all cost.
I’ll be honest. I had a huge crush on Duke merely from the glimpses we were given in Opening Up. So it didn’t take much to make me fall in love with this guy. Dubbed the “machine whisperer”, his talent with restorations is fast approaching legendary. Twisted Steel is his life and his friends are his family. On the surface he is the suave, easy going guy, but as Carmella soon finds out, deep down he is totally alpha male. He races cars and engages in bare knuckle fighting for fun. I loved these two sides of Duke. He is truly interested in everything about Carmella. He brings her gifts of Kona coffee and flower bulbs. He appreciates her attention to details and even gets hot and bothered just from watching her clean. This guy has it bad. When he learns of the hell Carmella’s mom has put her through for years, he respects the way she handles it even though he wishes she would walk away. Best of all, Duke compares her to a phoenix; fierce, strong, beautiful, and a survivor.
Carmella is indeed a survivor. A selfish, pill abusing mother and a father in prison more often than not should have colored her life dark and dismal. But she refuses to allow that. She may not have a college education but she’s damn proud of her ability to manage a busy office and garner the respect of a bunch of grease monkeys. She made a bad choice early on and married the wrong guy but she is not the victim that her mother is. Hurt and disappointed too many times, Carmella doesn’t trust easily. So when Duke assumes something about her that isn’t true, she’s hurt but stands up to him and speaks her mind. She maintains her cool and makes it clear a broken trust means the end. I admired Carmella’s integrity and honesty. I even admired her dedication to her mother even though I wanted her to kick that bitch to the curb. And best of all, Carmella allows Duke into her life, breaks some of her rules, and takes a chance.
The slow build of attraction between these two is delicious. It crackles and sparks and is often more panty melting than the straight up sex. Hey, I said almost! Which, by the way, is also pretty damn delicious.
The honest relationship Ms. Dane has created between Duke and Carmella is beautiful. Her signature fun and witty dialogue did not disappoint. I enjoyed every bit of Falling Under and look forward to the next Ink & Chrome book.