Reviewed by Sharon S.
Carlos O’Shea is stuck. He knocked up a girl in college after a night of too much drinking and then married her to be honorable. With little money, fewer options, and no degree, he winds up cleaning the floors in a small town gentlemen’s club and thinking desperate thoughts about the handsome owner that’ll lead to nothing but trouble.
Greg Moorehouse only invested in a nudie bar to help his best buddy out of a financial crisis. Now his drug-dealing ex-boyfriend, his reverend father, and a parade of surgically-enhanced DDs are driving him insane. But what’s really stripped him of all good sense is his growing obsession with his married employee, Carlos.
They circle each other in a push-pull of misunderstandings and growing attraction. Carlos needs to get his boss out of his head, and Greg can’t abide cheaters and married men. So what are a strip club owner and the guy who cleans going to do with their undeniable desires?
Please note: This is an adult gay romance, for mature readers only. Contains explicit love-making between two hot-blooded men, angsty dark moments, and cupcake-baking exotic dancers.
This is about two guys with so many obstacles between them you wonder if they will ever be able to work through them. Stripped Clean has a HEA so you know they do, but the journey there is what this book is about. You can read the book blub to get a rundown of all the baggage they have to deal with.
What I think the author does best is convey that feeling of falling in love with all the awkwardness, double guessing what the other person is thinking and worrying if you are reading things into it. I was able to remember those butterflies in the stomach as you waited for that first kiss from your crush. Gives you all kinds of warm and fuzzies.
Greg does well for his self financially, is comfortable with his sexuality and experienced. His last relationship ended badly because of his partner’s drug use. And to make matters worse his ex-lover is the brother of Greg’s best friend. Greg also has serious anger and trust issues when it comes to his father and it has affected his relationships. But he is a good guy trying to do the best he can and help others. Carlos fell in love with a boy as a teenager, but never got to truly explore his sexuality. Then he ended up in a sexless and loveless marriage and has ignored his needs because he wouldn’t ever cheat on his wife. He is also a good, honest man struggling to do the best he can and it is heartbreaking how he denies his own happiness in order to do right by others.
Both men are drawn to one another from the moment they meet, but unaware that the other is also attracted to them. I enjoyed how they dance around each other for a good part of the book. There are so many reasons for them not to act on their feelings, least of which is the whole employer/employee relationship. When they finally do it is hot! It isn’t happy ever after for them just yet. There are some angsty moments as they try to navigate their feelings for each other and their own emotional baggage.
These are two real life characters overcoming self-doubt and learning to trust and love again.
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Sharon has a double standard when it comes to her romances, but she’s not ashamed of that. In straight romances if it’s sappy, she’s not happy, but the reverse is true when it comes to gay romances. The sappier it is, the happier she is. Learn more about Sharon in Meet the Review Staff at Love Romance Passion.