Strip Me Bare by Marissa Carmel
Series: Strip You #2
Publisher: Snow Flower Enterprises on October 7, 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
“I may have had more lovers than you, and I may take my clothes off for countless women, but you are the only one who can strip me bare.”
Do you ever stop loving someone just because they’re gone?
Five years ago Ryan Pierce disappeared from Alana Remington’s life without leaving so much as a post-it note behind. He was the one she gave her heart to, her soul to and her virginity to. So imagine her surprise when she finds him dancing at one of NYC’s hottest male reviews as Jack the Stripper.
Ryan never stopped loving Alana, and now that she serendipitously dropped back into his life, he’s vowed never to lose her again. But being together has its costs, and challenges Alana isn’t sure she can handle. She finally has Ryan back; but how in the world is she supposed to share the love of her life with half of the women in New York City?
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
I came across this book on a tour blog, and since it was too late to sign up to be part of the tour, I thought I was out of luck. I mean, a pseudo-up-tight law student and a male stripper? Yes, please. Fortunately, it was only $1.99 over on Amazon, and…well, that’s like the cost of a postage stamp nowadays, isn’t it?
Oddly enough, part of me thought I wouldn’t like it. The oversexualized male and the way too conservative female, with the lovely backdrop of young love gone amiss… yeah, it could easily have been one giant cliché. Lucky for me, the protagonists were easy to like, if not love, and Marissa Carmel doesn’t waste her time yanking readers through a lot of contrived drama and unnecessary angst. Of course, there is some drama and angst — it would be an incredibly boring read without it. But unlike a lot of stories I read, the characters actually communicate rather than stew about things for four or five chapters.
Alana is easy to like, a serious student with an independent streak, even if she has to hide it from Daddy, overbearing ass that he is. And Ryan is surprisingly normal. I say “surprisingly” because despite the shit hand he’s been dealt, he’s open and honest and not so broody that I wanted to punch him. And while the stripper thing is an obvious point of contention, he’s neither the unbelievable, gobsmacked doormat nor the conceited sex-god I halfway expected. While he makes no secret of his love for our little Alana (and doesn’t hesitate to beg for her forgiveness after disappearing for several years), he readily admits that the attention he gets from the strip club’s patrons is something he enjoys.
I will say that I was a bit surprised (and in a way, disappointed) at how quickly Alana accepted him back into her life — I would have expected a longer internal conflict rather than the almost instant forgiveness following his explanation and apology. But then again, Ryan’s pretty hard to resist. Oh, and did I mention the lovin’? It’s not the formulaic erotica that one might expect from a romance book about a stripper, especially when so many other books out there are all about the “insert tab A into slot B” routine that has become all too common. But it’s definitely got some steam to it.
While certainly a good read, there were a couple of drawbacks I should mention. The editing, while not the worst I’ve seen, could use a little work. I’m guessing most readers will skim right past the errors, but I’m easily distracted by the smallest things. I expect dialog to break grammar rules (because who among us actually speaks perfect English?), but I was surprised to see so many run-on sentences and a rather glaring lack of necessary commas in the body of the story. I can’t really hold it against the author, though; that’s all on the editor. Perhaps if the book does well and warrants itself some attention from a brick and mortar publishing house, that issue will be resolved.
The other issue I had was the time jumping. It wasn’t anything severe, like flashing forward ten years. But it seemed like one minute Alana and Ryan were reconnecting, and the next she was in her final semester of law school. I certainly didn’t want it to drag on and on through endless days of the same old same old, but I would have enjoyed a bit more development in that area. While a quick read, I could have used something to better walk me through (and ultimately convince me of) their overcoming the past and moving on with each other.
In any case, it’s a short, simple, classic little tale of childhood sweethearts reunited and refusing to let anything stand in the way of their happily ever after — and it looks like we’ll get a peek at the ever after part in the next book!