Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ARC Review: Naked

Megan Hart
Contemporary Erotic Romance

Harlequin/August 2010

ARC from Harlequin/Netgalley

From the author's website ~

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. Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I’ve been burned before. Maybe it was stupid of me to offer but he needed a place to crash and I needed to pay the rent, but now he’s my tenant…with benefits. And now that we’ve crossed that line, I can’t seem to find my way back.

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-fiancé preferred men, I won’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.

I love Megan Hart's writing. I have to put that out there so you know where I'm coming from. She's an author that writes out of the box. Her characters come from all walks of life, all nationalities, all races, all religions. I'm never sure what I'm going to read when I pick up one of her books, I only know that it will be a well told story filled with characters layered with strong emotions, flaws and insecurities. Characters who want to love and be loved. Most importantly, characters I come to know and care about. That's the case with Naked.

To me, this is Olivia's story. Yes, Alex is there and is the hero, if you want to give him a label. But the story is told from Olivia's POV and it's Olivia that we really get to know, inside and out. She is a complex woman with so many layers that I loved finding out about her. She was adopted as a baby, her adopted parents divorce when she was five. She doesn't come from a close family, they stay in touch but there's still some distance to the relationships.

When Olivia first sees Alex it's at the holiday party hosted by her ex-fiance' Patrick and his lover Teddy. Olivia has stayed close to Patrick and is friends with Teddy. Some might consider it an odd relationship but Olivia loves and cares about Patrick and doesn't want to loose his friendship. They have a long history that Olivia can't simply dismiss even though Patrick hurt her terribly when he broke off their engagement when he came out. She eventually forgave him and they remain friends.

I didn't care for Patrick at all. He was very self-serving and arrogant. He acted like he was concerned for Olivia when he warned her about Alex but I really think it had more to do with Patrick and what he wanted. He couldn't have Alex so he didn't want Olivia to have him. Plus, I don't think he really wanted anyone else to have Olivia. I think it was a case of he didn't want her but he didn't want anyone else to get serious with her either. Almost like he wanted to keep her in reserve, just in case he changed his mind. Bastard.

Alex is a character readers will be familiar with if you read Hart's Tempted. Alex was the best friend of the husband, James and became the third in that marriage's ménage. He has since moved on and now finds himself attracted to Olivia. When he rents Olivia's spare apartment, he starts spending time with her, hanging out and getting to know her. Alex is likable and I thought his heart was in the right place but he's also confused about his feelings regarding Olivia and the feelings he still has for James that go beyond best friends. I do think we see Alex trying to be there for Olivia and not cause her pain but he's still has some doubts about what he wants on a permanent level.

One difference between Olivia and Alex is financial. We often hear that finances are one of the main causes for problems among couples and Olivia and Alex are no different. Alex has made lots of money and while he still works, he can afford to take time off when he wants to. Olivia is a photographer who does print work for her clients. She's very good and hopes to make it a full-time career but she's not there yet and must also work at one of those photo places at the mall. When Alex wants to take off for a day or even a few days and Olivia has to work, it causes problems. Alex offers to help Olivia with money and that causes even more problems. I did like how Olivia didn't let Alex completely take over and continued to pursue her dream of quitting the mall job. She's did slowly let Alex into her life and her apartment but I never felt like he took total control of her.

Olivia has gone through some rough times in the past and everything isn't perfect with Alex. They both have secrets that are not easy to share, even when they fall in love. As we get to know Olivia and Olivia gets to know Alex, we see how past decisions have not only shaped these two people but how they affect the decisions they make now. I think Hart did an amazing job portraying these complex characters that have a tough time trusting and opening up to each other.

The biggest problem Olivia and Alex have hits Olivia right in the face and I could feel her pain and anger. It's a very emotional scene and really got to me. At this point I had come to like Olivia so very much. She's the type of person you hope you get to meet in real life. She's sweet, caring and fun to be with. I was so pissed off by what happened to her and how she's put in this position with no warning of what to expect. The way Hart dealt with the situation and how the characters' reactions played out made for some very emotional reading. The thing about Hart's writing is that it's far more than an erotic romance. There's sex, lots of hot sex, but as I've said in previous reviews, there is so much more to Hart's stories. Lots of character development and getting to know the big and small, the ins and outs of what makes these characters do what they do.

Another beautiful romance that I really felt a connection with the heroine. Loved the fact that she is not a typical cookie-cutter heroine. She's from a non-traditional home - adoption, divorce, religious differences and then there's the fact that Olivia is half white, half-African American. She finds herself straddling two worlds. Both with regards to her race and her religion. It all becomes intertwined with her love for Alex and her need to figure out how she can fit it all into who she is.

Rating: A


  1. Very nice review, Leslie :) This one has been getting some prized review and I'm getting intrigued. I've read one Megan Hart... and looks like I should try this one out :)

  2. Wow Leslie, this book has some great reviews going for it. I've never read Megan Hart's work and always meant to. I'm so tempted to get this one, it just sounds really good.

  3. Nath ~ Yes! Read it. I loved it but I'm an admitted fangirl. :)

    Hils ~ What?! Never read Megan Hart? I love her books - so much more than simply erotic novels.

    Psst - You can both get Naked at NetGalley. :D

  4. I just skimmed the first half of your review and skipped the second half because I love to dive into Megan Hart's books without any preconceived notions whatsoever. I love her writing--it's so unique--and I want my reading experience to be such as well.

    I am thrilled to see you loved it! I have been waiting for Alex's story for over three years since I read Tempted. Even though you say this is more Olivia's story... that's fine. I just want some resolution with Alex.

    Thanks for the review, Leslie. I can't wait to read it so I can discuss it with you more. : )