Title: Strip Me Bare
Author: Marissa Carmel
Release Day: October 10, 2013
Genre: New Adult
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
“I may have had more lovers than you, and I may take my clothes off for countless women, but you are the only one who can strip me bare.”
Do you ever stop loving someone just because they’re gone?
Five years ago Ryan Pierce disappeared from Alana Remington’s life without leaving so much as a post-it note behind. He was the one she gave her heart to, her soul to and her virginity to. So imagine her surprise when she finds him dancing at one of NYC’s hottest male reviews as Jack the Stripper.
Ryan never stopped loving Alana, and now that she serendipitously dropped back into his life, he’s vowed never to lose her again. But being together has its costs, and challenges Alana isn’t sure she can handle. She finally has Ryan back; but how in the world is she supposed to share the love of her life with half of the women in New York City?
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18001430-strip-me-bare
You Don’t Know Jack
Pink plastic penises.
That’s what’s bouncing around like two alien antennas on top of my cousin Emily’s head. Two, pink, rubbery penises attached to a cheap headband.
I don’t know how people celebrate bachelorette parties in other parts of the world, but in the North East they dress the bride-to-be in sashes and tiaras, force them to wear pink penis paraphernalia and sacrifice them to male exotic dancers. Emily doesn’t seem to mind though. She’s sipping champagne happily in the back of an Escalade stretch limo as we drive through New York City.
“Alana,” says Jill, Emily’s maid of honor whose personality is just as fiery as her red hair, “we were taking bets as to whether you were going to come or not.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” I ask curiously.
“I don’t know?” she holds her hands up like she’s balancing a pair of scales. “Cutting a year long trip to Europe short or staying and hanging out with all those hotties on the French Riviera?”
“Sun and Speedos get old after a while,” I joke.
“Well maybe some American Speedos will revive your interest?”
“I doubt it.”
“Is the straight-laced Alana Remington too prim and proper for a male strip show?” Jill digs.
“She’s only prim and proper on the outside,” Emily jumps in, defending me.
Thanks Em, but I can take care of myself.
“Why would you say that? I’m here aren’t I?” I interject. “I’m just not partial to tiny male underwear. And I think the politically correct term is Male Revue.”
“Whatever,” Jill laughs at me. “This is the perfect night to let your hair down and get a little action between your legs.”
“Jill!” Emily chastises. “They don’t sleep with you.”
“I’m sure if you paid them enough they would.”
“You’re so crude,” Emily says.
“I’m just real. And I’m pretty sure all they’d have to do is take one look at Alana’s blonde hair, brown eyes and long legs and they’d pay to sleep with her.”
“Well just don’t let my father find out if that happens,” I say dryly. “I don’t think he’d respond well to me pimping myself out.”
“I have a feeling you don’t need monetary transactions for sex,” Jill pours herself a glass of champagne as we haul down 5th Avenue.
I glance at Emily and she gives me a sympathetic look.
“Where did you tell him we were going tonight anyway?” Emily giggles, her bright blue eyes sparkling, her long dark hair pouring over her shoulders. She’s five foot two and one hundred pounds soaking wet, but she has the persona of a supermodel; beautiful, confident, sexy, fun.
“I told him we were having an early dinner, then seeing a Broadway show. I almost choked on my granola when he asked me which one. Most of the time, he barely recognizes I’m alive, but of course the one time I’m not prepared with a cover story, he catches me,” I shift around in the cream leather seat, trying pull down the clingy hem of my gold pleated tube dress without much success; if I’m not careful I’m going to end up giving everyone a pre-show.
“So a male strip club would have been a no-go with him, huh?” Jill asks sarcastically.
“Like I need to answer that.”
I’ve known Jill most of my life and she’s fully aware of my family situation; my father, the strict, detached man who has stern expectations of his daughter, which includes an impeccable social image. Me, going to a male strip club? No-go is a drastic understatement, and she knows it.
“My uncle has very firm views about how his daughter should act,” Emily says annoyed. “What she should wear, who she should date, how she should breathe. And he’s colder than damn ice. I swear I don’t know how our fathers share the same DNA.” Both our fathers are prestigious figures in the law community. Mine is a superior court judge in New Jersey while Emily’s is a big shot lawyer in New York City. They both have a reputation to uphold, but my uncle John is very personable and laid back and he and Emily have a great relationship. My father is the exact opposite; stringent, disconnected, career driven. I don’t even think he has emotions. And we have no relationship.
“So no little lost strippers following you home then?”
“Jill,” I roll my eyes.
“Not unless they have a seven figure paycheck and republicans as parents,” Emily adds wryly.
Everyone in the limo looks at me and I’m not exactly sure what they’re thinking; it’s probably a toss-up. They either feel incredibly sorry for me or think I’m some tight ass who’s going to ruin the fun. If they take one look at my dress they should know it’s not the latter.
As we drive through Times Square, the lights on the billboards are flashing and droves of people are walking. The city is always so alive, bustling, moving, churning. I love it here. And I’ll love it even more when I live here. I start law school in three months, and I can’t wait.
It’s nearly eight o’clock when the limo pulls up to Culture, the only all male ladies club in the world. At least, that’s what the website boasts. Already, the line is around the corner with eager women waiting to get in. All six of us step out of the limo into the New York air. Along with Emily, Jill and I, there’s Beth and Liz the groom’s two sisters and one of Emily’s roommates from college, Jen. The smell of hot dogs and pretzels drift in the breeze from the street vendors as we make our way up the sidewalk. There’s a secondary entrance that has a street sign with several shirtless men that reads ‘Male Revue’, and when I look closer I catch some fine print scribbled on the bottom that says ‘lip smackin’ dick’.
Oh man, maybe I am too straight laced for this.
Emily nudges me as we wait in line for the doors to open. “Sorry about Jill,” she whispers.
“Why are you apologizing? She’s right,” I cross my arms. “I do need some action between my legs, I just have to build up enough nerve to actually let someone in.”
“That’s not the only place you need to let someone in.”
I bristle, “Em, I don’t want to dwell on my past. At least not tonight, okay?”
“Okay,” she concedes, the penises bobbling on her head.
“Are you going to wear those things all night?” I ask incredulously.
“No, I’m just going to wait until Jill is drunk enough not to notice I took them off.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be wearing them for too long then.”
Emily nods zealously in agreement. I think she likes the shock value of her headband a little too much.
It’s early May, so the temperature in the city is comfortable. No one needs jackets or scarfs or pants, and I think even underwear is optional. As the line behind us grows rapidly the bouncer finally gives the okay to go inside. I’m bouncing in my shoes trying to muster enough nerve to actually walk through the door. I’m a little out of my element here. We file in one behind the other, all walking carefully down the dark stairwell in our designer heels, making our way into the club’s private room..
The room is dark but not cold; there are black leather couches and coffee tables spread out in front of a small stage that’s maybe a foot off the ground. Very intimate, very close and very personal. We all sit down on an L-shaped sofa to the right of the stage, and a few moments later someone is popping open a bottle of champagne and handing out plastic cups with pink bubbly liquid in it. I’m suddenly all nerves as the realization of what’s about to happen kicks in. I gulp the champagne; I don’t think I am going to like this one bit. I glance around anxiously at all the excited women in the room. A few have sashes or tiaras that say bachelorette or birthday girl. Emily fits right in with her headband. She seems relaxed; I think I’d be hyperventilating knowing some guy is going be grinding all over me in a few minutes.
I take another sip of champagne.
I watch the bartenders as they mix drinks behind the bar, hear the muted conversations of the girls around me and feel the temperature rise as the room fills to capacity.
What the hell am I doing? Just before I get up to go get some air, a smooth male voice washes over the crowd. “Ladies, ladies, ladies,” the MC announces. Shit. He’s short, with caramel colored skin and big green eyes; very handsome and very charismatic. He introduces himself as Hugo, walking back and forth across the stage like he owns it. He tells a few dirty jokes to warm up the crowd, some of the women firing back fueling his raunchy lip service. “Okay my fine females, this is what’s going to happen,” he says with a tantalizing edge to his tone. “There will a group performance and then private dances, and then one on one time, where,” he smiles wickedly, “you get to mingle with all the fellas.”
I really think I need a cigarette.
Hugo tosses the mic to someone on the side of the stage then disappears behind a door to the left that’s barely noticeable. It’s been painted black to blend in with the wall. The DJ pumps a hard core club mix of Rihanna’s Rude Boy, while smoke blows over us from different corners of the room, it’s cold and smells bitter. Then that little back door swings open and four men with no shirts, ripped bodies, and black tuxedo pants file out, bumping to the music. The room goes absolutely berserk. Women start screaming, bouncing up and down and waiving dollar bills over their heads as the four guys bump and grind and hump around the stage in a sexed up routine. They’re hot, there’s no denying it, but I can’t help but wonder how anyone can do this? Don’t they feel like a slab of raw meat?
When the Chippendales’ demonstration is done, the dancers disappear into the camouflaged door, leaving the crowd hot and bothered and apparently ready for more. The lady sitting in front of us is actually panting. Really?
I glance at Emily as Hugo reappears. It looks like she’s really getting into this, which I’m silently thankful for. Emily’s not a prude by any means, but I think even this could definitely push her limits. It’s certainly pushing mine, and I’m just watching.
Hugo calls the first bachelorette onto the stage. Lila, I think her name is. She’s a cute young girl, almost innocent looking. She’s wearing a tiara and a pink sash that says bachelorette. Her fake blond hair is loose with curls and she has on a white button up shirt and jeans. Not very club couture, but whatever. Her entire party is called up on stage with her, and Hugo instructs them to decorate her body with dollar bills. The group sticks money where ever they can, in her pants pockets, between the buttons of her shirt, in her collar and under her sash; she looks a walking ATM by the time they’re done. Then Lila sits down on a folding chair on stage. The DJ hits the music again, a fast version of Sean Paul’s Temperature pumps through the speakers as a guy dressed in a cop’s uniform explodes onto the stage, all high energy and sexual, popping his body as he jumps right in front of the Lila. He looks legit in his navy blue uniform, aviator sunglasses and officers cap. Sergeant Striptease wastes no time working it; he gets right in Lila’s face, bumping his junk to the rhythm of the music.
I can’t believe I’m watching this, I think as I down more champagne.
He rips his shirt off displaying his defined chest and six pack abs, then he straddles Lila with his face towards the crowd, taking her hands he runs them down his front, over his pecs, stomach and hips. His skin glistens under the stage lights.
I’m not really sure what’s more shocking, the stage show or the reaction it’s getting. Women are bouncing exuberantly on the leather seats, shrieking and clapping almost like a bomb went off.
Sergeant Striptease then stands Lila up and rubs himself all over her; moving up and down against her body, grabbing the dollar bills out of her shirt with his teeth. Lila laughs nervously as she holds on to him by his very nice shoulders. Very, nice shoulders. Then he does something that takes everyone, especially Lila, by surprise. He grabs her waist and flips her upside down, her crotch ending up right in his face. He slashes his tongue between her legs, causing most of the women in the room to scream.
Like, bloodcurdling screams.
I’m not even capable of an auditory response; my vocal cords have shorted out and my jaw has dropped to the floor.
Then he puts her down and whispers in her ear, she nods back at him with a smile; her eyes wide and alight. He sits her back down in the chair and proceeds to take off the rest of his clothes, which is actually just a quick tug of his pants. All he has on underneath is a black g-string with, holy shit, tassels covering his penis. Where do you even find a get up like that? He does one more bump and grind on Lila, practically naked, and then the show is over.
Emily looks over at me. Her eyebrows lifted high like she can’t believe what she just witnessed.
“Yeah girl, that’s all you,” I yell to her over the music and she laughs.
I wonder how much laughing she’s going to do when it’s her on that stage?
Hugo reappears, announcing the next girl, Holly, and she looks absolutely petrified. She too, has blonde hair, but I think it’s natural; no dark roots. She’s wearing a white eyelet dress and fresh faced makeup. She looks almost virginal and I feel sorry for her already.
Holly sits in the folding chair, wound tighter than a spring and littered with dollar bills all over her body. I couldn’t do it. I could never sit up there and have some guy I don’t know hump all over me. It would just feel wrong. For me. I admire the other women in the room who are rearing to go. Maybe I am a prude?
The lights dim as Holly sits alone on the stage, but no one comes out the camouflaged door. There’s low haunting music playing and smoke curling up from the floor. Then I notice Holly’s face. She’s gone pale. Everyone turns around to see what she’s looking at. And there, sauntering toward the stage is a guy dressed in black leather pants and a mask covering his whole head, a whip in his hand.
“Ladies, the Dominator,” Hugo announces and Holly absolutely shits. I can’t say I blame her. All I want to do is run up there and rescue her.
The Dominator gets onto the stage and starts doing a seductive dance over Holly, grabbing her hair and yanking her head back as he straddles her with his mask on.
My mind goes numb as I watch; it feels like an out of body experience it’s so far out of my sexual scope of understanding. The Dominator then pulls Holly to her feet, bends her over and starts smacking her ass, hard. Then he mercilessly pumps her from behind and I have to look away.
I think I’m scarred for life.
After that he sits her back down in the chair. It looks like she’s just smoked up, she’s so starry eyed. Then he rips off his mask and starts again with the intense humping; his crotch right in her face. Good lord.
He’s not bad looking with his bald head, big light eyes and a really nice smile. Like, really nice. Almost endearing, which is weird.
Then he does something that actually impresses me. Somehow, he gets his feet over her head, planting them against the back wall of the stage, his ass facing the crowd and humps her from upside down. For a guy who’s tall, bulky and muscled, he’s limber, I’ll give him that. Then he kicks himself down and pulls Holly to her feet. He picks out all the dollar bills with his teeth, and then plants a huge kiss on her cheek. She was a damn good sport. I would have bolted the moment I saw him walking my way. Given you could actually pay me enough to get up on that stage in the first place.
Now it’s Emily’s turn.
“Okay ladies,” the charming Hugo announces. “You’re in for a real treat,” he says as Jill, Beth, Liz, Jen and I dress Emily in dollar bills. She’s by far sexiest and most trendily dressed girl in the room. She has on a tight black body suit that’s short sleeved and high collared. A flared mini skirt and a pair of black stockings that give the illusion of thigh highs; hooch couture is what I call it. With her tiny little frame she rocks the outfit perfectly. We were able to get twice as many dollar bills on Emily compared to the other girls. Even her black bootie high heels have Washington’s sticking out of them. She looks like a scarecrow stuffed with green straw.
“Next up is one of our premier dancers. So get ready, set, wet for Jack the Stripper!” he says as he hops off the stage.
The beginning beats of Ginuwine’s Pony blasts through the speakers as a shirtless guy with a cowboy hat and eye mask grooves his way out of the black door. Now him I could be into. He’s tall and lean, totally toned, with sun kissed skin and a hot looking mouth. Emily got lucky with this one, thank God. I watch as he dances to the stage in a pair of loose fitting blue jeans with rips in the thighs and knees, the elastic of his underwear peeking above the waist of his pants. As soon as Emily sees him, a big smile spreads across her face and I breathe a sigh of relief. She’s into him. And seriously, who wouldn’t be?
The melody changes to a house rendition of As Long As You Love Me and Jack the Stripper moves seductively to the beat of the music, grinding sensually on Emily; his fluid body undulating all over her. I’ll admit, I’ve never equated Justin Bieber to stripper music, but this guy makes it work, and damn can he move. My mouth is getting dry just watching this. The entire room is responding to him; pleasured screams and erotic moans are echoing from every which way as he works Emily on stage. No wonder Hugo called him premier; it’s as if he knows exactly what a woman wants and exactly how to give it to her. He’s already broken down the entire room with just his confidence and sexuality. That’s impressive.
In the middle of his dance, with his hat and eye mask still on, he lifts Emily’s chair, with her still in it, and flips her up and around, inducing screams and shouts from the audience. With a big smile he places her back down, and then starts to undo his pants, teasing her and us with glimpses of his ass. Before he drops his jeans he rips off his hat and flings it into the crowd revealing thick, brown hair that’s short on the sides and longer on top; his bangs spilling over his forehead hipster style. Hot. Then he kneels in front of Emily, only his side profile visible. He whispers something into her ear, she glances at him oddly then slides two fingers under his eye mask; she rips it off and turns white. I can’t really see his face from my angle, but whoever he is, he spooked her. They both seem to freeze for a fraction of a second; his back muscles tensing. What the hell is going on? Then she nods her head yes, as if encouraging him on. He stands up, faces the crowed and proceeds to take off his pants. That’s when my heart drops dead in my chest. I glance at Emily and she’s staring straight at me, a manifold of emotions churning on her face because we both just witnessed my past strip to life.
My Review: 5 stars
What would you do if the love of your life disappeared one day? Then 5 years later you come face to face with him stripping in a club? This is what Alana has had to deal with initially. Then she finds out what happened - why he left. Alana and Ryan have a new start, but not without challenges. He's a highly recognised stripper and she's a law student under her father's thumb. Her father is very demanding of Alana; he has high expectations and expects Alana to do whatever he demands of her.
The love that Alana and Ryan had, has not stopped for Ryan. But he has to prove to Alana that he still feels the same. She has some trust issues, but give Ryan a chance to build that trust back. They go through some really messed up things with both of their families, some expected, some unexpected. At one point, their lives are balanced on a point and things can go either way. I loved this book, it presented unique challenges for the characters. Showcased the love that can be built with trust and openness between two people. I really loved the fact that no matter where Alana and Ryan went, so did Emily and Aaron. That's a real best friend, right there. Marissa did a phenomenal job writing this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will again. I will also be on the lookout for Marissa's work, cause she's damn good!
Marissa Carmel has been writing since a young age and although it has always been for personal enjoyment, she finally decided breakout and share her imagination with the world. She hopes that her universe is as fun and intriguing to her readers as it is to her. Marissa Carmel is originally from NJ but moved to Maryland several years ago, she enjoys reading, writing, and catching up on her ever growing DVR library. She is currently working on the sequel to iFeel, Gravitational Pull and the third and final installment of the Vis Vires trilogy, Constellation.