4/5 bottles of polish for a steamy and emotional novel featuring sexy and mature lovers standing up for the life they want – and deserve!
Lock & Key Blurb:
Love not only stings when you lose it, when it’s ripped away, but when it first sinks its teeth into you, it can cut just as raw and sting just as deep.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten that.
I was allegedly South Dakota’s most famous Old Lady.
Fifteen years ago I had survived my Old Man’s murder and swore to myself never again.
Never again surrender my heart.
Never again sacrifice to the Club.
But that all changed in one night.
I came home and crashed into him,
and my past and present blew up in my face.
Both of us lonely, running on empty, and unwilling to admit it.
I feel things I’d forgotten about, want things I had cut out of my insides.
Who holds the keys to betrayal? To suspicion? To trust?
To brotherhood? To family?
To a bleeding heart?
Right now, I just might.
I suppose some of us have to get really dirty before we can become truly clean.
I am absolutely in love with the idea of a contemporary romance centered on female character over the age of 40. This is no virginal shy miss experiencing her first sexual awakening or a goody-goody off to explore her wild child side with the big bad bikers’ club. Grace Quillen was once an innocent young woman, and we experience her through flashbacks, but even then, when first encountering the One-Eyed Jacks and her future first love, Dig, Grace was a strong woman. When Lock & Key opens we meet Grace as a fully formed adult, world-weary and complete with scars and baggage from her time with the Club as Dig’s “old lady.”
Family tragedy and Club politics bring Grace back from a sixteen year exile rooted in the death of her husband and it’s devastating consequences. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Dig’s death and Grace’s flight play an important role in sucking Grace back into the fold of the One-Eyed Jacks and their club politics. However, before returning to her hometown, Grace stops for the night and meets a tall, handsome stranger, Miller, with whom she shares an instant emotional and physical connection. Allowing herself to feel and connect for the first time in ages gives Grace the strength to continue on her mission. The magic of the evening is marred when the harsh light of day reveals the sight of a tattoo on the back of her new lover – the symbol of the One-Eyed Jacks. Reeling from the collision of her past and present, Grace leaves Miller to awake alone, wondering if he’d imagined the depth of his connection with Grace and fearing he’d never find her again.
Being romantic fiction, they find each other at the bikers’ club house. By the time they do, Miller has been forced to pull back from Grace and deny their bond, all in the name of the good of the club and its politics. Miller is obviously conflicted and his character shines in these moments of torment as he holds Grace close in his heart while pushing her away. Miller is artistic and honorable and sexy as HELL. Serious book crush worthy – he’s a man’s man (really a MAN, around age 40). His club name is Lock because he keeps his emotions locked up, as he’s closed himself off emotionally following his military service and the death of his brother, who rescued Miller from a childhood of abuse. Yet, with Grace, he opens up and can finally be his true self.
“Everything unlocks with you, Grace. Anything good suddenly fits. You’re my key. I found you , and I’m not letting you go. Not ever. I’ve waited too long for you.”
I didn’t know what to do with those beautiful words, that precious confession. My soul soared. I yanked it back to earth.
“I only want to hear my real name out of that mouth when we’re together.”
Yeah, I’m kinda in love. *swoon*
Poor Grace goes through so much in the course of this novel. She never shrinks into weakness, always doing her best to face head on the pain of the past and the agony in the present. Grace does what she must for her family (both blood and club) and she’s an admirable character for it. Her relationship with her ailing sister and her nephew are key to her character development and her actions throughout the novel. It’s a lovely sisterly dynamic that’s played out beautifully.
I do have to say I was a bit skeeved out over some Grace’s actions on behalf of the club (I’ll just say: Butler *ew*). The club/brotherhood that was supposed to have her back didn’t feel 100% behind her at times by asking too much from her. In the end, Grace used her intelligence and cunning to come to her own rescue (with some help from Miller). I would have liked to know more details about the injury she suffered at the time of her first husband’s death and how it affected her psychologically. The book touches on those dark times but we see them mostly through the experiences of other characters. Even in the current day, Grace has to deal with the physical aftereffects and I’d like to see more about how she deals with it. On that note, I am happy to learn there is more to come in the One-Eye Jacks universe and I look forward to reading more from Cat Porter. Really, anything from Cat Porter – she’s a talented author we can expect lots of great things from!
About Author Cat Porter:
Cat Porter was born and raised in New York City, but also spent a few years in Europe and Texas along the way. As an introverted, only child, she had very big, but very secret dreams for herself. She graduated from Vassar College, was a struggling actress, an art gallery girl, special events planner, freelance writer and had all sorts of other crazy jobs all hours of the day and night to help make her dreams come true. She has two children’s books traditionally published under her maiden name. She now lives in Athens, Greece with her husband and three children, and freaks out regularly and still daydreams way too much. She is addicted to the History Channel, her iPad, her husband’s homemade red wine, really dark chocolate, and her Nespresso coffee machine. Writing keeps her somewhat sane, extremely happy, and a productive member of society.
Connect with Cat’s Social Media:
Q&A with Cat Porter:
Is there a message in your novel [Lock & Key] that you want readers to grasp?
In L&K Grace and her sister sacrifice in order to protect each other all their lives, from parents who abandon them and turn to alcoholism, from loss, depression, cancer, the threat of death, you name it. It’s noble and it drives those two women, and unfortunately the men around them often use it against them. The same goes for Miller and his older brother Wreck. There’s also the notion of identity- the use of their names, their biker road names, their real names. There are the ideas of family identity and cultural identity at play here too. When Lock first meets Grace he decides to use his real name and that’s how he wants it between them. He doesn’t use a nickname for Grace other than “babe” or “baby” unlike her first love who had had several nicknames for Grace. But this is a different time and place in both their lives- they’ve both reached this point of Brutally Real or Nothing at All.
The other idea is that both Grace and Miller are both living with their heads down in a mediocre glide through life. When they first meet they joke about that cliché “change keeps the blood flowing” but it proves to be true for both of them, because for years their blood has not been flowing, and that needs to be changed. And in order to push through and stand up for what they want after all this time, they have to get dirty and taste ugliness in order to fully realize their truths, know their worth, and be able to stand up and say “No more. This is what I want, what I need and I want to live it now. Screw you and screw everything else.”
Will you write more about these characters?
Yes. In my upcoming 2nd installment, we will follow up with Grace and Miller and a new character from Grace’s past will make an appearance, and in the 3rd installment I’ll focus on another member of the club.
What are your current projects?
I have a new book coming out in November, “Wolfsgate” a romance drama set in 18th century England. I’ve had an obsession with the 18th century since I was a little girl watching Masterpiece Theatre with my parents every Sunday and I enjoyed reading the classics and historicals from a young age. The notion of an arranged marriage used to fascinate me to no end. What happens if the husband and wife actually, truly, fall in love and how does that happen? I’m currently writing the second book of the One-Eyed Jacks series and planning on releasing it this winter.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
My first (traditionally) published book is a religious children’s myth, so it’s very different from “Lock & Key”! But the differences between L&K and “Wolfsgate” aside from the obvious- a bike club in contemporary South Dakota and upper class society of 18th century England- is a remarkable two sides of the same coin idea, I think. In the bike club there are no rules or restrictions (just those of their “tribe”), they live on the fringe of society and their moral compass is off the standard chart.
In the 18th century it’s all about the formal rules and restrictions of society. People then spoke indirectly about the stuff bubbling under the surface. In the bike world, they bluntly lay it out in a raw, unabashed way, do what they want, take what they want. In the 18th century world, there may be rules and restrictions (and bindings on their corsets, but no panties!) Yet there is so much implied and not said outright in their fancy speech and formal behavior, so much struggling to get through, so much crudeness and rule bending going on underneath the gilded niceties. All that fascinates me just as much as the raw, brash in-your-face-no-shame culture the biker world represents.
What is for you the perfect book hero?
I read a recent article about why we love Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy so much, and how it’s because we see him become transformed by his love for Elizabeth. So true! That’s what I want in a book hero. I love a good Alpha who goes for what he wants and won’t take no for an answer, who’s hiding some dark secret maybe that he can only share with his woman eventually. But at the core is his transformation into the better person he can only be through his experience of connecting to his woman. I find that journey of his extremely intriguing, breaking down the barriers, finally getting to the point of do or die, him making a stand and finding a new strength.
Deleted Scene from Lock & Key © Cat Porter
“Aunt Grace, look what Lock drew for me! Isn’t that the bestest tiger you’ve ever seen?”
Jake jumped up and down shoving a lined yellow page in my face. A strapping purple tiger, fangs bared and ready to pounce glowered at me.
“You don’t like purple?” came the deep voice I knew so well.
My head shot up. All my senses were drawn towards that sound like the tide under the magnetic force of a full moon. Lock stood in the kitchen doorway, one hand slung low on his hips, the other stretched out against the frame of the door. His white T-shirt was smeared with black grease and smudged with dirt. My breath stalled. He held my gaze, his head cocked to the side as he waited for my answer.
I shifted my weight. “I like purple. Majestic color.”
“Majestic,” he murmured, his lips twitching.
Jakey brandished his drawing in the air. “Isn’t he scary, huh? Ready to attack!” He let out a great big howl.
“Yeah, attack.” I mumbled, my gaze still stuck on Lock’s eyes.
Mesmerizing pools of lava that sucked me in and swallowed me whole.
“I’m gonna go show it to Wes!”
Jakey sped out of the room, and Lock and I were suddenly alone. We hadn’t seen each other since that ugly explosion in the hallway three nights ago. Since my stupidity with Butler. Since Iris. Since my evil deal with Jump.
Since my little world blew up in my face.
He stared at me. I stared back, the silence deafening. Roaring.
His teeth grazed his bottom lip.
My heart hammered in my chest.
“How are you holding up under lockdown?”
“I’ve been keeping busy with the Bone Marrow Drive. Writing thank you notes, that sort of thing.” I sucked in a breath. “Oh, did you want some?”
His eyebrows lifted and a grin stole over his lips.
I rolled my eyes, my face heating. “The cake?” I gestured to the chocolate sheet cake next to me on the counter.
The amusement lingered on the taut lines of his face. “Did you make that?”
“Yeah, I did. I thought the kids would . . .”
A sharp prickle raced up my spine as he stalked over to me. Like a fucking tiger. I turned around quickly and began cutting him a thick slice.
The heat of his body brushed up against me, pressing into my back and my side, his warm, breath fanning the back of my neck. The scent of motor oil, metal and sweat swept past me as his arm reached out, a long finger swiping through a dollop of velvety chocolate ganache. On some primal instinct I was powerless to control, I tilted my head to watch his full lips suck on the tip of that finger. The finger that only days ago had swiped at me, thrusted inside my body, inside my most intimate, vulnerable place. The finger that had made me surrender to him.
It had tormented me, bruised me, angered me. And left me hungry for more of what only he could give me.
“This is what I do to you. Remember that.”
I dropped the knife on the counter with a clang. His lips released that now wet finger, and his thumb stroked over a chocolate smudge on the corner of his mouth then dragged lazily across his generous lower lip, his eyes on me. My tongue darted over my lip, a pathetic attempt to satisfy my sudden need to lick his.
His eyes blazed. It was only a second, but I recognized it—a flash of want, of hungry, potent need, a wild, irrepressible, insatiable urge. The tremor of it pulsed deep in my center and simmered in my blood. I should hate him, despise him for making me feel it, especially now, now that things were broken, mangled, dirty.
But I didn’t.
His wet finger trailed gently up the back of my neck like a drizzle of liquid fire, and a shiver snaked through me.
“That’s really good,” he rasped.
I stopped breathing, and my body melted into his magnificent towering wall of sinewy muscle. Into the impulse to throw everything away and dive into a warm, swirling sea of chocolate and cream and hot blinding mess.
His hand swept around my throat, the other around my waist. “Goddammit.” His rough whisper vibrated across the suddenly sensitive skin of my neck.
But I couldn’t afford to indulge in impulses anymore.
“Stop,” I whispered, my hands clasping his wrist.
His body stiffened around mine. “I know you hate me now, and I deserve it. I hate myself more for the things I said to you the other night, for the way I treated you. I had no right. No right to take from you, to be so cruel.”
I squeezed my eyes shut against the humility laced in his words, against the intimate timbre of his voice. I didn’t want to forgive him. That would mean letting him in again, and I wasn’t going to do that. No way. I was done with hopes and wishing and believing. I was going to do what I had to do then get myself the hell out of here. Again.
He lowered his head further, his face against mine. “Grace? You won’t even speak to me?” His lips brushed mine, and I gasped. That mad jolt of electricity, our electricity, coursed through me. His hold on me tightened as his mouth lingered over mine. Teeth tugged, warm lips nuzzled, teased, and coaxed that unwinding hot coil of disaster within me.
The luxurious taste of dark chocolate, sugar and Lock beckoned me to dive in and bathe in its lushness. His tongue nudged my lips open further and delved inside my waiting mouth. My tongue slid against his, stroking, eagerly exploring. The air around us was sucked away. Who needed oxygen? It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered when I had this kiss, his kiss.
His tongue dipped through the ache that swelled inside me, dipping through the havoc, the riot of warring factions on the battlefield of me. A fucking civil war. And silencing everything.
Everything but Us.
The Us that was precious.
The Us that had turned ugly.
The Us that was never meant to be.
I tore myself away from his mouth, slamming into the sharp edge of the counter. A muffled growl caught in his throat. Lock’s hooded eyes were dark, unreadable, his breathing as ragged as mine. His hands gripped my arms, then suddenly let go as if they’d realized their transgression. The craving still drummed between us, but now it snagged and clawed at my insides.
“That cake any good?” Jump’s taunting voice spiked from the doorway. It was the voice of cold, hard fucking reality, a bucket of icy water toppling over us, drenching everything.
Lock’s cold gaze leveled at mine. His jaw clenched, the lines of his face hard. I braced for the burn sure to come.
“Chocolate’s not my thing,” he bit out and strode out of the kitchen.
*GUH* You can feel the tension and passion and PAIN leaping off the screen! If a deleted scene is this good, you can only imagine how amazing the final version is!