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REVIEW:  Lover Undercover by Samanthe Beck

REVIEW: Lover Undercover by Samanthe Beck

Dear Ms. Beck:

Part of this book was great. The other parts made me cringe and I used SHOUTY notes at points on the PDF review copy I received. BUT, I was engaged for most of the book which is more than I can say about some of the stories I’ve been reading.

Samanthe Beck lover undercover
When her stripper sister gets injured, Kylie Roberts is forced to go on stage to save Stacy’s place at the Deuces. Kylie is kind of a judgmental sister. She doesn’t approve of her sister’s stripping even though it is what pays for the high rent apartment they rent (“even though her income as a yoga instructor barely covered a third of the rent.”). To be fair to Kylie, no one approves of the stripping including both Kylie and Stacy’s love interest. What frustrated me about this was that Kylie and Stacy came from the same oppressed small town, one that was super judgmental about both of them and their family.

And on that particular point, Kylie and Stacy agreed one hundred percent. The only thing more unacceptable than being homeless in LA? Returning to their tiny, backward hometown of Two Trout,
Tennessee, as the penniless failures all the naysayers predicted they’d be.

So Kylie is not only disapproving of Stacy’s profession, but Kylie benefits from this by living in a nicer apartment and from not being forced to return as a penniless failure. Further, her sister’s stripping is basically subsidizing Kylie’s pursuit as a yoga instructor. We get further judgment down the road when Stacy is the slut sister and Kylie is a virgin.

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And yes, I plan to use this image every time I encounter a virgin in a contemporary. Worse, Stacy is not only a stripper and a slut, be she also is mean to her co workers where as Kylie is nice. I get it. Strippers are the devil’s spawn.

Trevor McCade is a detective working undercover at Deuces to try to ferret out the murderer of two patrons who have been beaten to death. Trevor has to manfully endure strip shows and lap dances in the course of his undercover investigation, all on the LAPD dime. He knows he is not supposed to be attracted to any of the strippers but he can’t help it. The scenes wherein Kylie dances for Trevor are very hot and the best part of the book. In those scenes we are treated to Kylie and Trevor feeling a multitude of emotions from power on Kylie’s part to frustration and guilt on Trevor’s part. They are also funny and hot at the same time:

“Very limber.”
“Glad you’re enjoying the show, Trevor.”
“Absolutely. In fact, you need to lift up a little or… ah…”
Too late. She felt some of the “incidental contact” Stacy had warned of, and jerked away, almost losing
her balance in the process.

Unfortunately we can’t have an entire book of private lap dances. (I say that totally unironically) The investigation intrudes and we have Kylie pretending to be Stacy and answering questions of the LAPD. We have Kylie and Trevor making out in the LAPD witness interview room. We have Kylie acting so stupidly toward the end which results in bad results all around.

There is a secondary romance between Stacy and Ian, Trevor’s partner. The story is told only from Kylie and Trevor’s point of view so we are treated to Kylie listening to the two have sex or Stacy recounting events. The secondary romance didn’t seem to smoothly fit into the narrative nor did Stacy and Kylie’s abrupt reconciliation toward the end where they acknowledged their envy of the other.

Finally, I think you need to review the diagram explaining where the hymen is.

Spoiler: Show

“Don’t worry. I’ve got you.” And he did. One hand resting on her thigh, the other wrapped around the
base of his erection, he ran the tip over her throbbing sex, and then pushed gently into her.

….

At the same time, he angled deep and drove into her.
For one suspended moment, their eyes met. His lips moved and she heard his rough, shocked, “Jesus,
Stacy.”

So what to grade this book? I gave it a C. There were some really good parts and some really bad parts.

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Midnight Alias by Elle Kennedy

REVIEW: Midnight Alias by Elle Kennedy

Dear Ms. Kennedy:

I keep trying your non Samhain titles in hopes that I can find another winner but while this book started out with promise it fizzled after the first 1/3. The hero, Luke Dubois, is staking out a club and falls for one of the strippers. Olivia Taylor is thought to be the mob boss’s girlfriend by Luke’s team and with good reason.  The mob boss, Vincent Angelo, is in love with Olivia and she has maintained a certain distance from the mob boss by playing on his belief that she is pure and innocent and must be kept in that state.  It’s okay for Olivia to take her clothes off for a living but not sleep with the villain before marriage.

Luke watches the heroine and is immediately convinced by her hair swinging, hip swiveling, dick hardening dancing that she is an innocent in need of saving.  After all, Luke points out that she takes care of her mother and hands out change to homeless people.  A woman like that cannot possibly be sleeping with a bad guy.   His gut convinces him to tell Olivia the truth and thus draw out Olivia’s confidences.

Midnight Alias by Elle KennedyOne of the strangest things in the story is that there was very little daylight between the actions of the good guy, Luke, and the actions of the bad guy, Vincent. In some ways, Vincent was more deferential and respectful of the Olivia than the Luke.  But because Olivia wants the attention of Luke, Luke’s behavior is sanitized.

Olivia is one of those selfless martyr heroines. She is stripping to pay for her mother’s cancer treatments and attending NYU to get her degree.  Unfortunately for Olivia, her boss Vincent took an unhealthy interest in her.  Worse, Olivia believes that she may have killed a patron and that Vincent covered it up for her.  She’s angry at Vincent’s attempts to treat them as a couple even though she is pretending to be his fiance.  Vincent is supportive of her emotionally and tells her that if her mother’s cancer comes out of remission, he will be there to support her.  He pays for her tuition, takes care of her mother’s medical bills, provides a supportive shoulder for her to lean on.  Instead of being grateful, however, Olivia is repulsed.

At one point, Vincent speaks to her in crude sexual terms believing that she is in love with him and that she wants him. After all, she has come on to him and says that she loves him. She views his crude language with disdain “Jeez, were these the kind of sweet nothings he whispered in the ears of his bedmates? If so, no surprise he was still single.

But when the hero says something sexually provocative, it’s a turn on and she replies with her own dirty banter:  “What happened to this only ending with you buried inside me?

While the hero’s language maybe wasn’t quite as graphic, it was certainly in the same spirit and vein. While I think it was unintentional, it seemed to show that the hero and villain weren’t very different characters at all.  It’s not that Vincent wasn’t horrible. He was.  He murdered people, drugged women up and sent them to be horribly misused by his “clients.” Actually having him feel tender toward Olivia would have made him more nuanced.  Instead, I felt like the text tried too hard to make everything he did seem awful and skeevy.

I also disliked the play on innocence here.  Olivia is stripping for money yet that has to be clenased by what a genuine and innocent girl she is.  “Lord that innocent temptress combo she had going on was a huge turn-on.”

The last 40%, though, really unraveled the story for me when Olivia convinces Luke to try to take down the entire mob with her. Just the two of them.  These darker and more serious Elle Kennedy books don’t work as well for me but I’ll probably keep trying.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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