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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Stripped by Tara Wyatt

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! I loved this book! So much tension, sexiness, and just all around fun with this book!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: May 15, 2018

Detective Sawyer Matthews isn’t just having a bad day—he’s having the worst day. His hunt for the criminal who killed his team member has stalled and now… he’s got to play nice with his new, totally unwanted partner. It’s not that she isn’t qualified, or that he doesn’t like her—it’s because he knows what she looks like naked. So very, very naked.

Brooke Simmons finally landed her dream job working for H.E.A.T, an elite undercover detective squad, and she’s not giving up simply because she had a one-night-stand with her sullen—but undeniably sexy—new partner. They’ll just have to keep it professional. Easier said than done, considering their first case requires Sawyer to infiltrate a drug cartel operating out of a male strip show. Watching him do his best Magic Mike impression every night isn’t just hot—it’s torture.

Sawyer doesn’t need any distractions, yet his attraction to Brooke is explosive and he can’t resist going for round two. Or three. Or four. But as their investigation progresses and danger mounts, they’ll have to put their jobs, hearts, and lives on the line to fight… for each other, for survival, and for justice.

What’s it About? While mourning the loss of a murdered friend in a bar, Detective Sawyer Matthews meets Brooke Simmons and they spend one incredibly hot night together that neither can forget. When Sawyer’s boss introduces him to his new teammate and partner, he’s shocked and not at all happy when he comes face to face with Brooke. The rules and regulations say that a personal relationship between the two of them is forbidden but their attraction is still burning hot. A distraction Sawyer doesn’t need as he and the rest of the team look for the people responsible for murdering one of their own. Brooke meanwhile is struggling to find her place on her new team. She’s worked damn hard to get a spot on the elite team and she isn’t going to give it up just because she and Sawyer can’t get over their night together. Complicating matters is their first mission together in which Sawyer has to go undercover as a stripper and Brooke has to play the part of a groupie.

Overall reaction to the book? Ah, where to start? From the moment Sawyer and Brooke meet there’s this thick tension between them that only escalates as the plot of Stripped moves along. I loved both of these characters but I admit that Brooke is my favorite. I loved her confidence in her personal and professional life. She’s strong, intelligent, and kicks serious butt at her job but at the same time she seems like the kind of character you can just hang out with and have a solid friendship with. There is one that thing really stood out to me with Brooke though and it all has to do with the author: Brooke isn’t one of those silly females who suddenly can’t do her job when she’s faced with a handsome face. She doesn’t need saving, she’s a member of H.E.A.T for crying out loud! That means the best of the best and those skills didn’t go away because of Sawyer. THANK YOU TARA WYATT for not turning Brooke into an idiot just so Sawyer could have the chance to play big, strong hero.

Sawyer was closed off for about a quarter of the book, he was grieving so I understood that. I thought he was going to be a brooding, grumpy, growly hero which he was but there was more to him than that. Slowly Sawyer started showing more of who he was and yup, I knew Brooke wasn’t going to win her fight to stay away from him after that. Sawyer is delicious. That’s the best way to describe him. He’s this strong, silent type but he feels very deeply. His partner was murdered and while Sawyer wants justice, he also doesn’t know how to handle his grief and throughout the book the author shows that softer, more vulnerable side of him. At heart he’s a solid guy, someone that you could lean on though he doesn’t appear to be when he’s first introduced. That’s my favorite type of character and Sawyer doesn’t disappoint, he’s got humor, heart, and sex appeal in spades.

Sawyer and Brooke are great characters on their own but they’re great as a couple, even when they’re not admitting anything more than a physical attraction. They’re constantly around each other after Brooke is assigned to them and while that just makes the tension between them even thicker, it doesn’t make them stupid in their work. I loved the balance between their personal relationship and their working one. Wyatt not only balanced out both sides of the characters’ lives but did so in a way that allowed Sawyer and Brooke to grow in both areas. It wasn’t all work and no play though because these two built up a lot of sexual tension that had to go somewhere and that was yet another area that Stripped excelled at. Sawyer and Brooke were hot, hot, hot together but even those scenes were layered with humor and growth. I loved their relationship from start to finish.

My favorite scene? When Sawyer finds out that HE will be the one going undercover as a stripper. Oh how I laughed at that. My second favorite? Whenever he has to “practice” his routines or when he has to perform.

     The captain nodded. “Thank you, Detective Jensen.” He turned his attention to the four of them. “This could be our in to the cartel. Ward and Perez, stay on the Desperados—you’re making good headway there. Matthews and Simmons, this is yours. This is an undercover, need-to-know op, and the objective is simple: infiltrate the dealers to find the suppliers. If the suppliers are the cartel like we suspect, we’ll have a shot at taking them down.”
      “One other thing,” said Jensen, his mouth twitching with a suppressed smile. “The Manhattan Ballroom is a strip club.”
     Sawyer and Brooke’s eyes met, and he thought he saw the tiniest flicker of panic in hers. He’d been about to say something comforting and reassuring—hopefully—but then Jensen continued speaking. “A male strip club.”
     Brooke threw her head back and laughed. Sawyer felt frozen to the spot, unable to fully process what he’d just heard. Aside from Brooke, who was laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes, everyone stared at him.
     He shrugged. He’d do whatever it took to bring down the bastards who’d killed Ryan. “Fine. I’ll get myself hired at the club.”

Stripped is for the most part Sawyer and Brooke’s story but these two are part of a four person team and the author takes the time to introduce and let readers get a feel for the other two members, Jack and Amelia. It was just as easy to fall for those two as it was for Brooke and Sawyer. I can’t wait for their stories. Especially Amelia’s because she wears grief like a second skin and I want her to be happy again. That’s what this book does, it entertains but it also makes readers care about these characters and really root for them to get their own happy ending.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. The suspense, the action, the character relationships… It all makes for a great read and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

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