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Review: Stripping Her Defenses by Jessie Lane

Review:  Stripping Her Defenses by Jessie LaneStripping Her Defenses (Ex Ops Series) (Volume 2) by Jessie Lane
three-half-stars
Series: Ex Ops #2
Published by Self-Published on October 31st 2014
Genres: Motorcycle Club
Pages: 256
Format: eBook
amazon b-n
Goodreads

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.


Even the greatest love can be torn apart, but it can also be mended if the love is strong enough. This latest novel by Jessie Lane deals with depression, mental health, loss, and reconnection.


Kara and Riley Sullivan were high school sweethearts. After they married, Riley went into the Navy and Kara attended college and worked hard to become the perfect Navy wife. Yet it was Kara’s need to be “perfect” that ultimately destroyed the foundation of their marriage. Kara was determined to be different from her showgirl mother. With diet and exercise, she tried to keep her shapely form from developing. Since Kara’s father abandoned her and her mother, she had underlying abandonment issues and the harder she tried to be perfect, the more she pushes Riley away. Riley knows something is wrong with Kara and their marriage, but instead of confronting her, he avoids her taking on more and more voluntary missions. This cycle continues as the harder Kara tries to be perfect and fails, the more abandoned she feels as her marriage begins the fail.

The final straw is when Kara losses her unborn son in a car accident. She falls into a depression, and she runs away from Riley and their already frayed marriage.

The story takes up eight years later when Riley needs to go undercover to find out who has been abducting women and selling them into sexual slavery. A pattern of missing strippers in the Florida area, have them going undercover as part of a motorcycle club. They infiltrate the MC’s strip club to keep an eye on the patrons. Riley is shocked to find out one of the headliners is the woman who still haunts his dreams. Riley stopped trying to win Kara back and let her go on with her life at the request of Kara and her therapist but he never would have expected to find his shy wife boldly flashing her new curves for a room full of horny men.

Now that he’s found her, he won’t walk away again. Riley is going to make Kara face their past and come home with him where she has always belonged.

THOUGHTS:
The characters in this story are great and I have a definite interest in finding out what happens with Riley’s brother Declan and with Lucas and his missing girl. The beginning of this story is heartbreaking and it shows that sometimes love is not enough to keep a marriage together. These two people are very much in love from the moment they met in chemistry class at teens. Yet, it is our own made up demons that can destroy us. Even years after their divorce, these two are filled with a lot of “If only’s.”

My overall problems with the story included plotlines, or maybe what I thought were the plotlines, which fell short or were rushed over. No question that Riley prefers his curvier and more sexually adventurous wife which begs how he fell for the conservative, too skinny Kara to begin with. I understand that Riley walks away at his wife and her therapist’s request and he is stuck with a big bag of “If Only…”: If only he hadn’t been away when she has the accident. If only he had talked to her about her crazy issues, instead of avoiding her. Young Riley made wrong choices, but was never able to make them right.

It took years of therapy for Kara to get her head on straight, but she had her act together for some time. Her “If Only’s” stemmed from her own psychological issues. She wanted to explain that to Riley. She wanted to apologize to Riley. But in eight years, since she walked away from him, leaving him alone to grieve for his lost wife and child, she never went after him to say she was sorry. Even once he finds her and she knows she wants to explain and apologize, she keeps sneaking away from him because she doesn’t want to deal with him.

As far as plotlines, the beginning goes well, if not depressingly. Riley finds Kara and he is not happy about her stripping, but Ice explains to Riley what happened with Kara that made her want to get on stage. Even understanding that it is something that Kara needed to do, he wants her back and he wants it to stop regardless of whether it is something she needs to do.

As part of the new, more sexual Kara, Riley finds out that his wife is into more kink then when they were together, which would lead you to believe that there will be some erotic sex scenes going to be tossed in, but after their first stimulating encounter, this was not explored again.

There is also the indication that trouble haunts Riley and Kara’s reunion and we do see that someone is making trouble for Kara. I presumed since she was a stripper and since Riley was the club to find out who was abducting strippers, these plot points would coincide. Wrong! Kara’s trouble comes from another front which is unrelated and seemed a little out of left field considering all the other things that were going on in the story. It confused me because there was a big deal made that Kara, who strips masked, would be unmasking to celebrate the club’s anniversary. Since Riley sees her before she strips, the unmasking isn’t to reveal her to Riley, and isn’t to reveal her to a kidnapper so what’s with the mask and who cares if she is taking it off. Don’t bring up a plot point that has no purpose.

After Kara abandoning Riley (yes, for an understandable purpose), never trying to find him and explain  and then she tried to avoid talking to him at all, their reunion seemed to happen too fast.  Not just the jumping each other for sex, but the determination of we will never split up again.  We also leave these characters with the presumption that Kara is “all cured” and she won’t relapse in any way returning to a life with Riley. I don’t think I have ever heard of depression being “cured.” It is more of something that comes in cycles.

I also felt that this was a partial sell for the spin-off series of the Regulators Motorcycle Club.  We meet Ice and Hammer who run the club and who will be the featured characters in Book #1 and #2 of the new series. I know that authors do this all the time, but it seems a more natural flow when you have great secondary characters that you decide need their own series, than to twist the storyline so you can introduce your new series in your current series. Personally, I don’t have much interest in any of the Motorcycle Club series that are out there. Both of these characters held some interest and there is obviously more to them than just motorcycle enthusiasts, but I really didn’t like them, not enough to make me want to pick up the Regulators series.   Sorry, I usually avoid stories about Vikings, billionaires and bondage, dragon-shifters or fae realms and motorcycle clubs. That’s just me.   Not interested.

Overall the story was well written and enjoyable and could have used some more pages so we didn’t feel rushed back into the reunion and the characters could have been allowed to reconnect and figure out their future in spite of their past.  You could read this as a stand alone or as an intro to the new series.

Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

As we came up on the second door, I heard a woman humming. From the angle I was at, all I could see was a hint of her upper thigh cocked out to the side with a tiger tattoo gracing her radiant skin. It wasn’t much to see, yet because I knew it was the woman from the poster, I already wanted more. I wanted her.

The second the rest of her body came into view, I stopped dead in my tracks. She was bent over a vanity with her masked face up close to a mirror as she swiped a red lipstick over her bee stung lips. Because of that mirror, I could see her front almost as well as I could her back.

She was every fantasy I’d ever had come to life. Sinfully lush curves that most women today didn’t have or usually want. Like all the old pin up models soldiers used to jack off to in war time, this chick had round hips, a cushy ass, and breasts that made me want to bury my face in them and stay there. All of it was accentuated by her snug outfit. A black leather vest barely held her voluptuous breasts. The back mini skirt didn’t cover enough of her ass, which was accentuated by her knee high black leather fuck me boots. In fact, she was bent over so far I could even make out a small bit of the tiny tiger print thong covering her pussy.

Everything around me disappeared. The men. The music. The fucking floor. All of my damn air. I watched with rapt attention as she rocked her hips from side to side to the music from the other girls’ room and continued to him while touching up her makeup. My cock filled until it felt like ti was going to burst and goddamn did it hurt so good, a delicious kind of pleasure-pain I hadn’t felt in more years than I wanted to think about.

I was so focused on her, so oblivious to everything else, a bomb could have gone off right next to me, and I would never even have known to kiss my ass goodbye.

This had happened only one other time in my life.

The first time I’d laid eyes on Kara.

I didn’t know who the fuck this woman was, but I knew what she was about to become.

Mine.

All fucking mine.

A sick, twisted part of me mocked how much she looked like my Kara: same tanned skin with that subtle red undertone, same dark brown hair color and molten chocolate eyes. Did it really fucking matter, though?

Mission or no mission, I would make this woman mine in every way that counted while I was here. I could figure out the future later. Fate didn’t hand you moments in life like this so you could fucking ignore them.

She must have felt my eyes on her because, all of a sudden, she got this adorable little furrow between her brows and shifted her gaze to see the room behind her in the mirror. That’s when her eyes locked with my own and she gasped, dropping her lipstick. Twirling around on her high heels, one of her hands reached up to cover the area of her chest over her heart, and a strangled sound left her throat.

Taken aback by her reaction, I was about to apologize for obviously scaring her when I hadn’t meant to, but Lucas’s voice rang out from down the hall before I could open my mouth.

“Yo! Sullivan! Bring your ass down here and stop checking the girls out.”

I turned my head in Lucas’s direction as I flipped him the bird, but I was again cut off by a voice before I could tell him he could shove it up his ass. Only, this time, the voice that interrupted me was soft, feminine, and one I heard every night in my dreams.

“Riley?”

Motherfucker.

That scantily clad stripper was my goddamn wife!

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