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Monday, January 11, 2010:
Laid Bare by Lauren Dane (2009)
Unexpected Desire…

It’s been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn’t in the cards just yet…

Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin’s past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed—and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?

Despite being a huge fan of erotic romance, and other than reading "Taking Care of Business" (with Megan Hart), I had not read anything by Lauren Dane before. What a travesty, I know. But recently I've heard a gazillion amazing things about her book Laid Bare, so during my recent Borders shopping spree, I made sure to pick it up (along with Coming Undone). And it won my "which book should I read" question from a few days ago, so that's what I read. Oh man, ever so glad I did.

My thoughts:

I'm just going to jump in straight to my review and state that I really loved this book on so many levels. Not only did I admire Erin right from the start for being unapologetic about who she was and what she deserved, I also respected her for surviving a horrific tragedy that could have emotionally crippled her. Erin was an amazingly brave, loving, gifted woman who'd lost so much, but refused to let it damage her beyond repair. Rarely do you come across such a strong woman in books, women who don't always defer to their men to make them happy. She wasn't a selfish or unforgiving woman, just one who accepted herself and her sexuality and expected to be cherished by those she loves.

I thought it was an interesting choice to have Todd leave her in the beginning, because despite how he believed he was raised, he came from a very loving, supportive family. However it was a journey he had to take, and finally realize that what he thought he wanted wasn't what he needed, or what made him happy. It took a broken marriage and a serious accident to finally make him realize what he'd been denying all along. Once he came to terms with that, he felt free to pursue what was missing from his life. His decision brought him home to Seattle and to the woman he knew he loved, even back then.

I want to give Ms. Dane major props for writing a story about the kind of Dom/sub relationship I can finally understand and accept. It's made clear that both Erin and Todd are not into humiliation or to have Erin being treated as a "thing" instead of a person. Their's is a very cherishing relationship, extremely loving and sexy and special. The things Erin allowed Todd to do to her were all things she enjoyed, and craved, just as Todd desired to give them to her. There wasn't a moment during their bedroom exchanges that I ever felt uncomfortable or creeped out by what was going on. It was about pleasure, sometimes a little pain but nothing that made me squirm in a disgusted way. I also liked that there wasn't withholding of pleasure for Erin either. There wasn't any "you must walk outside naked except for this collar and get the paper in plain view of the neighborhood pervert then maybe when you come back I'll give you an orgasm" type of scene, which always irritates me. I totally loved that about Erin and Todd together.

It broke my heart at times too, this story. Erin was still dealing with the aftermath of a gut-wrenchingly, painful event in her life, and there was a part of her that would always be in pain, would always be broken. Just because some time had passed didn't mean Erin had gotten past it. She was still suffering, but she was a survivor, determined to live and fight. She had an incredible support system in her two brothers, which I adored seeing. A lot of times you read about broken families, but while Erin and her brothers had lost their parents when they were young, they still had each other, and her brothers Adrian and Brody were a strong support system for her. It was sweet how close they were to each other, and how they didn't shy away from expressing their love to one another.

Laid Bare is one of those stories that will stay with you for a long time because it engages your emotions so completely that it's hard to let go. But it's a beautiful story, one with real, flawed, sometimes scared characters who are just trying to find that connection with someone who "gets" them, accepts and loves them regardless. There's not much I can think of that bothered me about this book, except for the incredibly small details that don't make a bit of difference. Such as the smoking. Completely silly, I know, but that always puts me off, no matter why the reason. I've been around enough smokers, including my mother, to know that it's never attractive or sexy. I don't mean to offend or make anyone feel bad, it's just one of my huge pet peeves. And I know you're probably rolling your eyes at me for something so trite. I don't blame you. But obviously this little occurrence does not detract from the rest of the story. I'm so glad I already have Coming Undone so I can re-visit these characters again, though I may hold off for a little while and just let myself absorb and savor the experience of Laid Bare. My favorite book of 2010.

Rating: ***** out of *****

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  1. You completely swept me along in your review! I think Erin is an amazing heroine and one that stands out from the crowd of heroine's. Have fun with Brody!!

  2. Ohhh , my TBR pile is getting a proper battering. Puuting this on the 'read next' list. Great review. Plus it has a very pretty cover!

  3. Great review! I loved this book and am reading Coming Undone now.

  4. Hey Stacy! I just finished Coming Undone and enjoyed it even more than Laid Bare. LB had some issues that stopped me from giving it a 5 star, but CU easily gets that high rating. Of course, I fell in love with Brody during LB and couldn't wait to read his story. What a guy!

  5. Wow, great review!! One of my book resolutions this year is to read Lauren Dane!

  6. Wow, Stacy! What an incredible review! I have Coming Undone but I'm thinking I should get Laid Bare and read that first. Would you agree?

  7. Hmm... Stacy? I wonder why there is no mention of Ben in your review?

  8. I heart this book!!!! You review makes me want to read it all over again.

    I love the journey that Dane wrote for each character. Oh and I'd really really liked to be in Erin's shoes *wicked grin*

  9. Wow what a great review! This books sounds really good and I'll have to keep my eyes open for it the next time I'm at the book store :o)

  10. I really liked this one, too. My heart hurt for everything Erin had gone through. The only issue I had with it was that (for me) Ben didn't add a whole lot to the relationship that they couldn't have gotten from him as a great friend. But... still, I thought that Lauren handled the triad beautifully and realistically (to my best guess, having no actual experience, LOL), even though I wasn't sure of it's necessity.

    Stacy, just wait till you read Coming Undone. I looooved that one. A real grown up, mature romance.

  11. I still have this set of books to read by Ms. Dane...

    I am pleased to know she has taken on the Dom/sub plot and made it a winner..

    I will get to it... I will..


  12. Between you and Kristie J, I really have to try one of Lauren Dane's books.

    And you so sold me on this book with this one sentence:

    But it's a beautiful story, one with real, flawed, sometimes scared characters who are just trying to find that connection with someone who "gets" them, accepts and loves them regardless.

    Thank you Stacy!

  13. Oh Stacy, I'm so glad you liked this! Lauren Dane was one of my favorite new authors from last year. :P

    Do you have any plans to read No Reservations? It continues on with the characters from Taking Care of Business and I really liked it!

  14. I'm just pulling this one out to read. I don't know why,but I thought it was a paranormal,so I set it aside thinking I'd come back to it when I'm in the mood for a PNR.

    Then ames told me that this IS a contemp and I about died. I guess that's what I get for judging a book by its cover.

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