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REVIEW: Coming Undone by Lauren Dane

Dear Ms. Dane:

Coming Undone CoverI included this book in January’s recommended reads because I like straight up contemporaries that feature two people falling in love.   This is one of those books.   It is, however, a qualified recommendation for a couple of reasons. First, the love story is largely without conflict, either internal or external.   Second, the dialogue of the characters seemed artificial at times.

Brody Brown is in a good place in his life.   His tattoo business is the best in the West.   His younger sister is settled in a different but satisfying relationship with her husband and their boyfriend.   His younger brother is enjoying the fruits of being a famous rock star.   Brody has few responsibilities other than to enjoy his good fortune.

Elise Sorenson is trying to get to that good place in her life.   After the her abusive husband broke her leg and ruined her career as a prima ballerina, Elise moved West with her daughter, Rennie, to get a new start.   She is opening a dance studio and tries to create a stable and loving home environment for the both of them.   She’s surprised by the feelings of lust and longing stirred by her handsome neighbor, Brody.

Elise and Brody are so amazingly well adjusted that their relationship floats smoothly from the meet across the street to the deal to be friends with benefits that deepens into something more serious.


"We have chemistry, Elise. We fit. Given the way I nearly came just from kissing you for five minutes, I think we should expand our friendship to friends who have sex."

She was silent, chewing her bottom lip until he began to think he probably shouldn’t have said a damned thing.

She met his gaze without blinking. Nodding. "I agree."

There were opportunities for emotional conflict that were never fully explored, particularly early on.

For example, Elise was abused by her husband but showed little fear of men.   Brody and his friends were big, rough, tattooed looking guys.   She finds herself attracted to them even if a little scary. This showed how well Elise had recovered from her abuse, but it was also an opportunity to develop some emotional conflict in a story that had very little.

I’m not sure whether it would have been forced and inauthentic, but the story could expounded, earlier on, Elise’s secret of why she felt she wouldn’t be able to have a long term relationship with Brody.   Brody’s need to not have responsibilities could have been subject to more emotional agnst than was present in the story.   He makes some noises about not wanting women with baggage, but he jumps into the sack pretty quickly with Elise.

Another example of a missed opportunity was when Brody warned away one of his friends from Elise, not because he wanted her but because Brody didn’t want said friend to sleep with Elise and then dump her because then Brody would be stuck with a brooding emotional neighbor.

Cope snorted and got on his bike. "Not for you, dumbass. For me. You can get your own pussy, I’m not your pimp."

"Don’t fuck anyone in my neighborhood, Cope. The last thing I need is to be involved in a situation where some woman is brooding over you when you dump her. Don’t fuck where I sleep."

"You wish I’d fuck where you sleep." Cope raised a brow, smirking before he slid his shades up over his eyes.

Brody never gives it even a second thought, though, when his attraction becomes physical with Elise.

Now, it would seem that I didn’t like this book at all, what with my complaints about the lack of tension and all, but the fact is, I really did like Elise and Brody and I did enjoy watching them fall in love. I appreciated that the two were well adjusted adults. I don’t like stupid conflict for the sake of conflict. That’s as tiresome as the reverse. So while I chafed at parts of the story, I also had no problem turning the pages. I think what helped is that the sex scenes were very hot. *blushing* Ahem.

There is some conflict asserted toward the end when Elise’s inlaws try to make Elise out to be unfit and take the Rennie away from her, but even that is fairly easily resolved. For fans of the straight up, very sexy contemporaries, I would recommend Coming Undone with the warning that it has very little conflict or emotional tension. C+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon (affiliate link) or in ebook format from BooksonBoard (non affiliate link).

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Stephanie Draven
    Jan 09, 2010 @ 12:26:50

    The first Lauren Dane book I read was LAID BARE which is the prequel to this one. The characters in that book were also very well adjusted. They had full, frank and mature conversations about everything. But given that the romance genre is filled with books in which the entire conflict can be resolved if the hero and heroine would just TALK TO EACH OTHER, I think sometimes well-adjusted characters are refreshing!

  2. Ridley
    Jan 09, 2010 @ 13:20:25

    How do these trade paperbacks compare to her Samhain books?

    For whatever reason, I want to like Dane’s books. I’ve read Giving Chase and Trinity and really disliked them for lack of romantic tension, absurd dialog and herky-jerky external conflict. Are these trades edited or written differently or can I safely abandon my quest and accept she’s just not for me?

  3. Estara
    Jan 09, 2010 @ 18:15:18

    If you want romantic tension in a dangerous situation Lauren Dane’s Undercover will work – it’s a science fiction romance m/f/m that works very well, I thought – but I liked Trinity, too…

    My favourite has been the second one in that scifi series though, Relentless, which is not so much about outside danger (although there is some) but danger to reputations (which, as they concern the leading figures of two completely opposed directions of the most influential sphere in that universe, and may lead to political unrest – are dangerous enough).

    I especially adored the strong heroine and could follow the hero’s admiration for her (I didn’t mind that she liked a tiny bit of rough play in the bedroom either, as the hero never abused it … Lauren Dane really loves describing cunnilingus ^^, it seems).

    My favourite erotic romance author so far is Denise Rossetti, though.

  4. Jane
    Jan 09, 2010 @ 22:37:22

    @Ridley: I don’t know, honestly. I responded to this Dane book the best so if the problems I mentioned in the review are ones you’ve encountered in the past, you might want to move on.

  5. ShellBell
    Jan 09, 2010 @ 23:41:26

    I love Lauren Dane’s books. Although it took me three attempts to start Laid Bare, the first book in this series, I had no problems with Coming Undone. I read it in one sitting. I loved how Brody and Elise responded to each other. I also liked how the relationship developed over the course of the book – the book takes place over approx 18 months so it’s not just a bonkfest and then happily ever after. I love how Elise takes into account the feelings of her daughter Rennie. As mentioned in an earlier comment, it is refreshing to have a couple who actually talk to each other. I’m definitely keen to read more about some of the other secondary characters – especially Adrian and Cope.

  6. Edie
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 03:49:16

    @Ridley They NY trades are a bit tighter in some aspects, but the voice is still the same, so they might not work for you any better?

    I have to echo Stephanie on the conflict in romance line. Adjusted certainly makes a nice change.

  7. Eva_baby
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 10:34:41

    @Ridley: Ridley, I’ve read only two Lauren Dane books, Giving Chase and Laid Bare. Luckily I read Laid Bare first, because if I had read Giving Chase first, it is a fair bet that I would never have picked her up again. The two are written like night and day. If I didn’t know better I would not have even though they were written by the same person. GC, was a D- read for me while LB was a solid B+.

    Although I do like good romantic and emotional tension, there is something very appealing to me about a simply adult, appealing contemporary relationship without suspenseful bells and whistles.

  8. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 11:18:37

    I also tried one of the Chase books and didn’t love it, but I was really impressed by Taking Care of Business (a collaboration with Megan Hart). I’ve been meaning to pick up another, this one or maybe Relentless.

  9. Ridley
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 11:34:39

    Thanks all, I’ll give Laid Bare a whirl, then give up.

  10. Coming Undone – Lauren Dane « My Thoughts On Nothing Much At All
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 18:04:33

    […] was definitely missing in Coming Undone, and I wasn’t entirely sure what until I read this review of it at Dear Author. There was very little romantic conflict or tension in the book. Brody and Elise […]

  11. Misty G
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 21:01:27

    I really liked Coming Undone. Maybe I’m just tired of the amount of over drama in other contemporaries that this one had just the right pace, just the right amount of tension, for me. I felt like I was reading about an actual relationship and found myself very interested. I’d have liked to have had more one on one moments between Elise and Brody. Dane kind of glossed over opportunities for romantic moments on New Years, Valentines, etc. I wanted to see more of why the two were falling for each other. However, I liked the reasons why Elise held herself back from Brody. I understood very easily why she would. This one is a solid B for me. Not a ton of fireworks between the hero and heroine, but enough to keep me reading.

  12. Christina T.
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 11:46:30

    I agree with misty. While I was reading this book I was listening to an audiobook (romance contemporary)and it was full of emotional stuff. sometimes it was hard to listen to b/c of all the “in the head feelings” I really enjoyed this book.

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    Jan 14, 2010 @ 17:51:19

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  14. Jenn
    Jul 14, 2010 @ 09:33:58

    I’ve been telling so many of my romance novel reading friends about Dane. Every time someone else discovers her captivating writing, they make sure to thank me for introducing them to such a great writer (needless to say, I have received many lunches :)). You all should check out her live chat session with BooksOnBoard’s Facebook this Friday at 11:00 am. You can ask her questions, etc. I am super excited!

  15. REVIEW: Inside Out by Lauren Dane | Dear Author
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:02:06

    […] I read Coming Undone, I was struck by the lack of either emotional angst or emotional conflict between the characters […]

  16. VB
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 11:32:51

    As a writer, I read a lot. The more I read, the hotter I like my sex scenes. But…the male voice has to be beievable. I don’t know any man who would say some of the dialogue Lauren had Brody spouting came across making Brody sound like an upper class woman, not the alpha Dane wanted to portray. His last line was great, Sit on my face, so your tits jiggle. That I bought, but some of the other formal sounding dialogue left me wondering why his talk didn’t match his walk, so to speak. I had mixed feelings about the sex scenes and Jane, I think you nailed it. The lack of emotional tension created, for me, a lack of sexual tension and big payoff. I still thought the scenes were hot, but they’d have been hotter if there’ d been more of an anticipatory build up. I think Maya Banks and Victoria Dahl, two very different authors are good at that conflict-driven anticipation, edge of your seat, please, please make them have sex thing ;>)
    Jane, I learned a lot from your review. Thank you so much.

  17. VB
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 11:41:05

    Another thought: this book was still a page turner for me. Maybe like others, I did enjoy the maturity and emotional depth of how Dane handled the relationship between the h/h, even if the internal conflict was not fully developed. I think, sometimes, the convenient black moment does get clicheed, so its abscence in Coming Undone was refreshing as someone commented earlier. However, when done well, believable, intense internal conflict does heighten the payoff of the story, just like great foreplay leads to a better…end ;>)

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