Friday, September 9, 2011

Adult book review: Naked by Megan Hart

Blurb: No strings. No regrets. And no going back.

I didn't think he wanted me. And I wasn't about to get involved with him, not after what I'd heard. Sure, Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I've been burned before. When I solicited him to model for my erotic photography book, I didn't expect such a heated, passionate photo session. And now that we've crossed that line, our bodies aren't the only things that have been exposed.

But I can't give my heart to a man who's so… unconventional. His last sexual relationship was with a married couple. It's enough that my ex-fiancĂ© preferred men, I can't take that chance again no matter how much my body thrives on Alex's touch. I can't risk it, but I can't resist it, either.

Alex can be very convincing when he wants something.

And he wants me.

My review: I'm a Megan Hart fan. I enjoy her stories, the multi-faceted characters, the complex layering of issues and conflicts, the smoking love scenes which fit each story and don't seem gratuitous. As much as I enjoyed Naked, it is not my favorite. To a certain degree I liked the main character, Olivia, a black woman raised by a white family (her mother is Jewish, her dad Catholic). She is an independent woman, a photographer with a small home-based business and has a side job at a photo studio. She owns a converted firehouse and makes her own rules. At the age of twenty-eight she seems to have the career part of her life on track. The other part--her love life--has been irrevocably damaged by Patrick, her college boyfriend/fiancee who broke her heart when he told her he was gay two weeks before their wedding. When I read that I wanted to tell her, "Um, Olivia, girl, if you're not intimate with your beloved in four years, something is going on."

Then there's Alex. Incredibly good looking. Wealthy. World traveler. Patrick invites them both to his holiday party and when he sees her staring at Alex, quickly warns her "he doesn't like girls." Did he really think that would work with Olivia? When she does talk to Alex the next morning, she calls him pretty and they hit it off. He's easy to talk to and makes her laugh. Then she learns from Patrick that Alex is looking for a place to rent. She tells him about her empty first floor apartment, and he follows her there to see it. Alex likes the place and the rent she quotes him was a joke ($450 a month, really?). He takes the place and they begin to spend time together. Soon enough Olivia is enjoying his company and he's cooking for her. Meals, going out, they first become friends before becoming lovers.

As much as I may have liked the story, I didn't connect with Olivia. Her photography sessions were wonderful--in the studio where she works and in her place with Alex were revealing and insightful. I wished she would have developed more of a complete sense of self and of her religious beliefs. 
Olivia's passions--for her work and for Alex--didn't seem to combine together to complete one picture of a woman since she was still unsure of herself, of who she was. Her relationship with Patrick was a constant thorn in her side and it took her too  long to figure this out.

I felt this was more about Alex and yet I still didn't know much about this mysterious man by the end. Having his point-of-view to read might have given his character more depth and fully realized instead of the caricature of the man I found on these pages. For someone who had a 'past', he seemed too perfect in his actions with Olivia. And when he goes home to visit his family with Olivia on his arm, I cringed during his scenes with his best friend, Jamie. His manner of speech, his drinking, all seemed too excessive to be believable. By the ending, which came across as rushed and incomplete, their story lacked credibility and a cohesiveness marrying their sex scenes with the emotional arc of their characters. 

What I will mention here is the ability of Megan Hart to nab a scene with such minute details I swear I'm there at that moment. When Olivia begins photographing Alex in a chair and things escalate from there, was drenched in raw feeling and I found it powerfully moving. As in other books I've read of hers, she can grab a moment in time and make it come alive from all of the senses. I call these "Wow" moments. With such a strength and command of words and senses, I wanted to see this Wow moment expanded upon.

Naked had an interesting premise, intense scenes, and two characters with tremendous potential, but I wasn't convinced by either of them in the end.

Rating: I liked it but I really wanted to like it more.

Cover comment: Incredibly sexy.

Book source: Netgalley

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