Thursday, September 1, 2016

Book Tour and Review: STRIPPED DOWN by Emma Hart

Stripped Down
by Emma Hart
Stripped, Book 2

About the book: 
What do you get when you mix a bottle of tequila, a single mom moonlighting as a stripper, and her sinfully sexy boss with an impulsive side? 
Married. You get married. 

Rich. Demanding. Hot. Crazy. 
That was Beckett Cruz in a nutshell. 
Not to mention wild, determined, dangerous, and forbidden. 
He was my boss—and, after a drunken moment of insanity, my new husband. 
An annulment was impossible... so was keeping him. 
I was taking my daughter and leaving, determined to give her a quieter life. 
But Beckett Cruz had never taken no for an answer. 
And he wasn't about to take mine. 

What happens in Vegas... might just keep you there. 

Pre-order Links

Stripped Down reminds me of a 7 Up commercial - it's crisp, light, and refreshing.  This is the kind of book that goes down easy and makes you feel good. It’s an old fashioned love story - think Pretty Woman featuring a stripper who is a single mother.   I have to admit I was influenced by the dedication in the front to teen mothers.  It put me in the mindset to admire our heroine.  I know it's difficult to be a mother to start, but being a teen mom is courageous.  

Cassie Gallagher works as a stripper at The Landing Strip, a premier strip club in Vegas. Cassie does not aspire to be a stripper, in fact, she hates it, but she feels that it is the only job available her to meet her needs as a single mother and her qualifications (or lack thereof).  But she is a planner and is working to get herself and her daughter out of Vegas.  Additionally, her father is desperately ill and she is doing all she can to help. 

One night she is called into her boss’s office.  Beckett Cruz recognizes that Cassie is struggling and is determined to get to the bottom of the situation.  This scene, the consequences which determine the rest of the story, is the weakest part of the book.  It is difficult to believe that a boss would deliberately get an employee drunk without having bad intentions.  One or two drinks are understandable, but four or five tequila shots? He is also very heavy handed in trying to Cassie to reveal her problems:   “My head was feeling fuzzy.  ‘I shouldn’t.’ ‘But you will.’ He grinned that grin again. Laughter dancing in his eyes.” I’m not impressed.

Despite this auspicious beginning, the charm of the story does take over.  Cassie is hardworking, honest, fair, loving, and fearless when it comes to her daughter.  It is easy to relate to her struggle working at a job that she hates.  For some, being a stripper can be empowering position, but for Cassie, she feels cheap and dirty. “It’s my job to make sure [my daughter] is taken care of, even if it means I hate myself every time I look in the mirror.” She is working hard to get out of her untenable situation, but life keeps bringing on obstacles.  

Beckett is a successful and wealthy businessman.  He brings his own baggage and is on the alert for those who would play him false.  Cassie is a breath of fresh air in his life.  She saves him as much as he saves her.

This is a Disney-esque love story with a modern twist.  

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies - usually wine - and writes books.  Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.  She likes to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

“Beck?” I managed to get his name out just before he opened the front door.
“Yeah?” He spun back to face me, his dark eyes unreadable. 
I turned my face to the side so I could see him fully. “You don't have to go,” I said softly. “You can stay. Only if you want to though.”
He rubbed his hand down his face, his eyes never leaving mine, then walked back into the kitchen toward me. I stood up away from the fridge as he stopped right next to me.
Slowly, he touched his hand to my face, his fingertips teasing my hairline. His dark gaze searched mine, and my heart jumped into my throat as the usual tingles his touch sparked danced down my neck. Then, he slid his hand into my hair, allowing the blonde strands to fall away from his fingertips.
“Do I want to go home to my big-ass house with its cold emptiness?” he asked in a low voice. “Or go to the club where half the girls there still see me as a mountain to be conquered? Not particularly, Blondie. I'd rather stay here. Even if there will be a demand for movies and water and foot rubs from a tiny, sick person.”
“You can.” My voice was quiet, like his. Even if my internal screams from self-preservation and vulnerability were deafeningly loud as they told me I was a fool, that he had to go, that this would never be enough for him.
“Do you want me to?” His question was... honest.
Like he didn't want me to answer.
“Do I want you to stay here in my tiny house so my daughter can fall more in love with you than she already is? Not really. But...” Don't be a fool, Cassie. Don't admit you want him to stay. He's just going to hurt you. “I don't exactly want you to go either.”
“For her, or for you?”
“I don't want to answer that question.”
“If I kissed you right now, would you ram your knee into my cock?”
“I'd briefly consider it, but I probably wouldn't do it.”
His lips twitched to the side. “You just answered the question.”
Then, of course, he cupped the back of my head, and he kissed me. It was slow, sweet, gentle. And I didn't consider kneeing him in the balls for a single second.
Beck pulled back and trailed his hand down my arm before he finally let me go. “I'm going home to get changed and then come back. Do you need anything while I'm gone? For CiCi? You?”
“I don't...” I sighed and chewed back my pride. “I meant to go to the store today after work to get some stuff like bread, milk... important stuff. But now I can't.”
“I can get it. Just tell me what you need.”
I bit the inside of my lip, then nodded. “Okay. Let me write it down.” I walked through into the front room with him hot on my heels and grabbed the notebook and pen from under the coffee table. A few things were already scrawled down, so I added a couple more things, including more medicine. I tore the sheet off the notebook, stood, then gave it to Beck. “Let me get my wallet.”
He grabbed my wrist, stopping me. “I'm not taking your money.”
I lifted my gaze to his. “You can't pay for my groceries.”
“I can and I will.”
“You can't and you won't.”
“I can and I will.”
“You can't and you won't.”
“I can do this all day, baby. I'm stubborn as fuck.” His eyes told me he wasn't lying. “And we all know I'm a brat about the word no. So, I can, I will, and I'm going to. If I can't help you by buying a measly eight items, I'm an asshole who shouldn't be allowed around other people.”
“You can't buy my groceries,” I repeated. It was a lame argument. I was going to lose, but I'd fight until I went down.
Beck's eyes twinkled as he leaned in. “Don't worry. If you really want to pay me back, I'll take a blow job. I imagine your lips around my cock will be a pretty good thank you.”
My jaw dropped as he backed off with a wink.
“Mouth open already, Cassie? Enthusiasm. I like that.”
I snapped my jaw shut and glared at him. “You're a dirty pig.”
“I know. But I've got fifty bucks that says you'll be sucking my dick by bedtime. If you don't agree...” He shrugged one shoulder, his lips curved in that dangerous smirk.
“If you're lucky, I'll bite it.”
“I'll take that as I'm in for a good time.” 
One more wink, complete with expanding grin, and he was gone.
Motherfucking asshole.


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