A Christmas Promise

His Lady Bride

His Rebel Bride

His Stolen Bride

One Wicked Night

Strip Search by Shelley Bradley
(Berkeley Sensation, $7.99, NC-17) ISBN 0425-21109-6
A little bit of the redneck is coming out after reading this book (my apologies to Jeff Foxworthy).

If you like plenty of hot sex and no real plot, you might like this book more than I did.

If you think that a straight-laced accountant can pose as a male stripper and be completely believable, you might like this book more than I did.

If you think that all Italians must also be in the Mob, you might like this book more than I did.

If you think that most male strippers must be gay and therefore harmless, you might like this book more than I did.

If you like couples who fight, then have sex, then fight again and call it love; you might like this book more than I did.

See the pattern here? Nicole (Nicki) DiStefano has worked hard to run a male strip club in Vegas with the financial help of her uncle, who just happens to be suspected by the FBI in a money-laundering scheme. His henchman, Blade Bocelli, is at the club to provide information to Uncle Pietro and to be Nickiís accountant. Her previous accountant was gunned down in a suspicious drive-by shooting.

Mark Sullivan, a.k.a. Mark Gabriel, was almost indicted for money laundering himself, thanks to his scheming ex-wife and Uncle Pietro (or his henchman). He was cleared in court by the investigative work of his sister and her new husband. He is now part of their investigation firm and they are out to prove that Blade had something to do with the embezzlement with his ex. To do that, Mark takes a crash course in male exotic dancing and heads to Vegas.

Nicki and Mark are instantly attracted and within minutes (or so it seems) they are participating in some highly erotic sex. After several bouts of this, they remember the case and spend a few pages on the plot, only to be distracted by more sex.

Ultimately, there is a resolution to the plot and there is even a surprise or two. But it is far too late. During this time, when they are totally distrustful of each other, they fall in love. There is not much talking and when they do talk, it is usually in argumentative fashion. There is lots of lust. Each has plenty of suspicions about the motives of the other, usually not good motives. A few people chip in to keep their suspicions going.

Blade is an interesting character and may end up in a story of his own. Nickiís sister, who is working with her while doing some research for a degree, is also noteworthy because she is the only one who has any type of sensible dialogue. The floor manager is Zack, a gay character who likes Mark and tries to help him win Nicki over while taking care of his sick grandfather. The ending is far-fetched and the reason for the villainy is rather tepid and out of the realm of any of the schemes Mark thinks is behind the crimes.

There is not much to recommend here. I enjoy well-written sex scenes as much as the next romance reader, but there is little of substance here to surround the sex. Readers may want to note that there is no indication in any blurbs that this level of sensuality is contained in the pages.

Strip Search is stripped bare and there is little there but a couple of hot bodies. If you like more in your romance, avoid the trip altogether.

--Shirley Lyons

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