Lockset by Brenda MurphyLockset by Brenda Murphy is a small-town romance about two women who find they’re stronger together than apart.

Eunice Park is well on her way to making partner at her prestigious Chicago law firm. She’s poured years of hard work into her career at the expense of her personal life. It’s been decades since her last relationship, so she’s been getting by with the occasional hookup via a dating app. She’s been estranged from her father since her law school graduation. He was more interested in putting an end to her deviant lifestyle than supporting her in her future endeavors. When he unexpectedly dies, Eunice has to return to her hometown to settle his affairs.

Morgan Wright is the town locksmith. She’s ready to take over the family business when her father retires. She’s content with her life except for one thing. She’s beginning to think the perfect woman doesn’t exist. After a chance meeting with Eun, she thinks maybe her luck is about to change.

Morgan’s sexy swagger captivates Eun and they enjoy some bone-melting sex back at her hotel. They also develop an instant emotional connection. Eun begins to wonder if Morgan and her hometown might be what she’s been longing for.

Can these two women overcome their insecurities and Eun’s hostile family to get to a happily ever after?

The Characters

Morgan and Eun are compelling characters and a great example of “opposites attract”. That’s primarily the driving force between the nature of their on again, off again relationship. Neither of them has had much luck in their romantic involvements – one more hurdle for them to overcome.

Morgan’s as straightforward as they come. She’s responsible, loyal, humble, and kind. (Sort of like a St. Bernard, but way sexier.) She’s instantly attracted to Eun and goes out of her way to help her sort out her father’s affairs, but that’s naturally part of who she is. Her head keeps telling her because she doesn’t have a fancy college degree and works with her hands; she’s not good enough for Eun. There were points in the story where I wanted to shake her and make her xsstart using the affirmation, “I am worthy of love.”

Eun has a lot going on – a lot. The combination of losing her father and losing her job has her pushed to the edge. Her tendency is to keep her emotions bottled up until they boil over, and her go-to method for dealing with them is to run. She has to deal with the extra pressure of interacting with a homophobic family and a church hell bent on praying her gay away. I was hoping Eun would hit the pause button and see life in Sikesville with Morgan could be more rewarding than the hustle and bustle of her life in Chicago.

The Writing Style

Lockset is told from both Morgan and Eun’s points of view. Murphy provides their inner self-talk showing how it mires them in doubt. As a result, Morgan and Eun’s actions are often fueled by their fear of rejection.

I’m very familiar with Murphy’s erotic romances. I know she can bring the heat. While Lockset is more of a traditional romance, the sex scenes are scorching and plentiful. This is definitely a “do not read at work” book.

While Lockset is book two in the University Square Series, it definitely works as a stand-alone.

My Favourite Parts

I’m a big fan of small-town romances. I love how everybody has ties to each other, and the sense of community is appealing. I also like how everybody’s wrapped up in everybody else’s business and the entire town knows about a first kiss moments after it happens. It’s especially fun to see characters from the first book in this series make cameo appearances.

Heads Up

Lockset features an Asian American main character which I was really happy to see. I’m all for inclusion, and I love seeing women of color front and center. Since the author is not Asian American, there might be stereotypes that I didn’t pick up on. I could see Murphy did her research for Eun’s backstory, but if there’s something that might be offensive to BIPoC, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to spot it.

The Conclusion

Lockset’s a romance full of angst and sexy bits so it’s definitely in my wheelhouse. I read this in a day because I was completely invested in Morgan and Eun getting their acts together. Even though they don’t see it right away, it’s clear they perfectly complement each other. There’s a nice mystery included in the plot which gives the romance a little something extra. Now all I need is book three of this series and I’ll be a happy reader. Tik-Toc, Ms. Murphy.

Excerpt from Lockset by Brenda Murphy

Morgan smoothed her fingers over the menu card. “It’s on the dinner menu. Mai said she wanted to make it so folks could find at least one thing they liked from when her parents ran it. She’s added a bunch of new dishes too. Their spring roll pizza is amazing if you’re in the mood for something more than the Gyeran-jjim, but it’s like a meal the way they make it.”

“You come here a lot; I gather?” Eun placed her menu on the table and leaned back against the booth.

“I’m not so much into cooking.”

Eun unfolded her napkin and placed it in her lap. “Me either. I have every delivery place within five miles of my home on speed dial.”

“No one cooks for you?” Morgan fiddled with the edge of her napkin.

“Not partnered if that’s what you’re asking.” Eun tilted her head to the side. “You?”

“Nah. I’m single.”

“An eligible woman like you?” A half smile played over her face.

Morgan barked out a laugh. “Yeah. Well, I don’t think I’m all that.”

Eun raised an eyebrow. “I bet some folks do.”

Morgan let herself get lost in the bold appreciation in Eun’s gaze.

“I could say the same.” She focused on Eun’s eyes. “It’s hard for me to believe you’re single.”

Eun shrugged. “I’ve never wanted to settle down.”

Morgan pursed her lips. “Never found the right guy?” She hoped like hell she had not made a wrong assumption.

“No. Never found the right woman.” Eun peered into Morgan’s face. “Are you surprised?”

“Nope. Just hoping.” Morgan leaned back in the booth.

Eun mirrored her position and met her gaze.

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University Square Series

On the Square


Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number:  9781648901195
  • Publisher: NineStar Press
  • Brenda Murphy Online  brendalmurphy.com

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Note: I received a free review copy of Lockset by Brenda Murphy. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.