Irons & Works series by EM Lindsey Contemporary Romance Self Published Reviewed by Melinda
There is almost nothing better than finding a new author to you and then loving their writing. The only thing better is when there is a whole series to binge! One of my favorite tropes in romance is found family, I gravitate to books and series that have even a hint in them, and The Irons and Works series is just teeming with found family. This series starts with Free Hand, where we’re introduced to Derek and the guys at a tattoo shop, which the whole series revolves around. I immediately fell in love with Derek and empathized with his PTSD, which causes him to have pretty severe anxiety. When Basil comes into the picture he starts to realize that maybe he could try to have a relationship with someone who understands his issues – and has his own stuff to deal with. Basil’s Deaf and not sure if he wants to deal with dating a hearing man again because…it has not gone well in the past. At all.
There was so much detail and intricacy about the Deaf community and how there are differences in people who sign, and CODA and what that means to them, as well as how they’re treated by their own families. The guys at the tattoo shop were in the process of learning sign language for one of their children, because she was hard of hearing, and the depth of that meaning to Basil really just came through so effectively. And like many romance series, we’re introduced to the cast of characters and the found family throughout the books.
My favorite thing about the series is that it revolves around a cast of queer, disabled people. It felt incredible realistic to me – in real life we gravitate to others who have things in common in some way. These men have varying issues – from being in a wheelchair, having a TBI, PTSD, being Deaf – but what initially drew them together were tattoos. Either giving them, or getting them. The group are fiercely loyal to each other and I loved watching a new person come to town and see one of the guys welcome them to the fold. When one needs something, the others are there in a second. Their disabilities are what made them either open up or become closer friends, or something more. It was incredibly moving and profound to read a whole series set around a cast of characters that are traditionally ignored in both society and romance.
And even better is that the way these disabilities are treated are with respect and nuance. EM Lindsey does not shy away when discussing the painful realities of Sam’s life in a wheelchair and how embarrassed he feels when he occasionally needs an aid to assist him in some tasks. But I appreciated that honesty so much because being disabled can be embarrassing! But the author also doesn’t shy away from the love and care that Niko and Sam are able to share.
I loved the entire series but I think that Basil and Derek are tied with Miguel and Amit for my favorite couple from Scarification – book 6. Miguel had been in a fire and lost his hand and is covered in scars. Amit grew up in a conservative Muslim family and is trying to deal with being Deaf and bisexual and accepting his true femme self. I loved their story because Miguel was just incredibly supportive and there for Amit and I think that EM Lindsey really shines when examining the prejudice the Deaf community deals with.
The Irons and Works series by EM Lindsey really delighted me in so many ways. They were able to do all of the above but manages to also delve into the romance between each protagonist in their books. Some of the books focused a bit too much on the external plots of the characters and I wanted that focus more on the internal relationship – but even in that case I could understand the why of it. In Will and Sage’s book there was focus on an abusive ex of Will’s who kept coming into the picture and the point of the book (to me) was about Will healing from that and the two main characters healing from their pasts together. I could feel their connections and Lindsey did a beautiful job of showing, not telling, that love does not conquer all – including disabilities – but that love can and does happen in the darkest of times.
I’m ready to delve into their backlist now and can’t wait to binge more by them! Please be aware that each book does have some heavy content because the characters have heavy backgrounds. Some of the books do have CWs at the beginning but not all of them do – if you need individual CWs I recommend looking up on Goodreads or always feel free to reach out to me, I included the overall CWs for the series below but each book does not deal with them overall.
CW for the series: death, family estrangement, domestic violence, racism, homophobia, anxiety, ableism, suicidal ideation, sexual assault, parental death, past cancer death, family estrangement