Review: Stripped

I wanted to like this book. I really did. And it had a lot of great qualities. Some of the banter was really fun, and there was some good-ish female friendship stuff, but a lot of it for me got bogged down by poor characterizations and the focus was not on the parts that I was interested most in.

Zac Fallon is a male stripper, touring with a group of guys. He’s starting to feel a bit at loose ends. He’s older than the other guys (except for the manager who no longer strips? Maybe?) and now he feels like maybe he wants to settle down. He is definitely interested in the hottie that lives on the floor directly above him.

Robyn Flores is an elementary school teacher but is pretty much a mess of a human right now. We are told that she used to be 100% put together, but she and her best friend have apparently swapped places since Lily got engaged. What I wanted to know was WHY Robyn was such a mess. How did the change happen? Was it gradual? And why didn’t she end up in therapy for her obvious depression? I kept waiting for SOMEONE to point it out to her (“Maybe you’re depressed? How about therapy!”) but no one ever did. Ok, so Fallon pointed it out once, but she dismissed it and never returned to it. Throughout the whole book, Robyn moans and laments that she is a terrible friend to Lily, but hey – Lily isn’t such a great friend either. She is ignoring the fact that her best friend is obviously losing it. She’s covering for her lateness at work instead of trying to help. She complains that Robyn won’t talk to her, instead of insisting her friend tell her what’s going on. Depressed people don’t volunteer that they are depressed.

Okay, so that whole aspect really bothered me. And don’t get me started on the Evil Principal Platypus. (No, that’s not his real name. His real name is Lukas Papadopoulos. But they do call him that.) He seems all fine and good, until he shows up at a restaurant with an underage girl and appears to be getting her drunk and then hits on Robyn when their respective dates go to the bathrooms. But this is sort of glossed over. Someone who preys on underage girls should not be the principal of an elementary school.

I haven’t even really gotten into the actual romance, which was… fine. They had some sort of sexy times, although it seemed clunky and inorganic to me, but that may have been that I was just thinking about Principal Pedophile and The Depression That Shall Not Be Named. I wanted more about the actual stripping business, too. More of the joy that Fallon was getting from it, not just the seedy underbelly of it. (Which, I know is part of it, but the author makes such a point that Fallon really loves it, but all we see are the flashy or gross aspects, not the parts that give him such satisfaction.)

I initially reviewed this as a 3 star book, but all these problems with it are making me demote it to 2. I could go on about the things that didn’t work for me, but overall, I summed up the main things already. (Two other things that rubbed me the wrong way quickly: the random subplot about the money being stolen from the coffers of the strip show was weird and not needed and the firing of Robyn as Maid of Honor and the replacing of the future SIL was also awful and kind of heartless.) I will say that the writing was good and there weren’t a lot of technical issues. It’s just the plot and the characterizations did NOT work for me, and there were some weird pacing issues.

Free ebook from Netgalley in exchange for honest review.

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