Title ~ Stripped Away (Stripped Clean #2)
Author ~ Ellis Carrington
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Due for Publication ~ 4th August 2014
HE DOESN'T RECOGNIZE HIMSELF
David Moorehouse has spent his life hiding behind masks. Nice guy. Best friend. Reverend's kid. After finding his father dead on the floor, he’s been stripped of his job at the family church and his identity as the quiet, nice guy. The life he knew is over, and he doesn’t know what to do next.
HE KNOWS ANGER BETTER THAN ANYONE
Ricky Slade is itching for a fight. By the time he meets David, he’s struggling to save his business, his best friend, his drug-addict brother, and his own sanity. He’s got no patience for his business partner’s judgmental sibling showing up and getting in his face.
Their furious heat turns into a fiery inferno, but Ricky's fresh off a bad breakup, and David is getting guilt-tripped by his family and his ex. Every time they fight, they fall into bed, but will that be enough when things around them come apart?
Be advised, this book contains: two men with big egos and bigger trucks, more emotional baggage than they can carry, and a whole lot of sizzling man on man action.
Ellis Carrington writes complicated characters. Non of her guys have it easy. They didn't in Stripped Clean and they certainly don't in Stripped Away. Anyone who read the first in the series will remember that Ricky is the co owner of the strip cub with his BFF Greg, who was the first to get his love story told. Sammy, Ricky's drug taking brother, who featured heavily in book one as Greg's cheating boyfriend, is now in rehab, Tatiana, his ex fiancée is back on the scene coaching the girls at their strip club; still showing signs of interest in him, and the business is struggling. To top it off there's unrest about the nature of the club from local factions so all in all Ricky is teetering on the edge of losing it...only just managing to keep his shit together!
David is Greg's half brother. It was only at the end of the last book that the two of them found out about each other, their duplicitous dad having kept the knowledge of his two separate families secret from each other and that's how the story begins, with Greg meeting David for the first time after traveling to their fathers funeral, taking Ricky with him for moral support as Carlos, his partner and lover, is away visiting a friend in hospital.
Both Greg and David had had issues with their Reverend father who, as it turned out, was far from the pious, local religious pillar he was supposed to be, having been found out to be cheating and embezzling money from the New Hope Center he ran, for his own devices. In fact it was David who'd found his father dead and is the one shouldering the fall out from his lying parents disastrous fall from grace. He's lost his job and standing because of it, plus he's worrying about Olivia, his once upon a time, not so successful, girlfriend-turned-best friend who he's not spoken to since she hooked up with a loser boyfriend he hadn't approved of. His one long(ish) gay relationship with Jeremy the local vet, has fizzled and died because of Dave's need to keep his sexuality secret from his parents and peers and last but not least his mothers Diabetes is getting worse... so, like Ricky he's also floundering in a sea of despair! So you can imagine the friction when these two taut as a piece of elastic, ready to snap, men meet!
I loved the sexual tension Ms Carrington had going on between Greg and Carlos in Stripped Clean, and I equally loved it between Dave and Ricky! Hoo boy do those two spark off each other. For me the pull is like being a kid in a candy store. I can't resist it...give me great ST and I'm a happy reader, get it wrong and I'm disconnected. The first half of the book is packed with antagonism and you can feel the strain building every time they're in each other's company, although you can also feel the underlying magnetic attraction as well. From the first meeting at the funeral they square off against each other and when Dave has to fall back on his newly found brothers invitation to go visit the strip club sometime (an offer he wasn't really going to take up) because he and Olivia have to run from her abusive boyfriend—they're thrown together even more and from then on the two of them are like a couple of sticks of dynamite.
Put them in the same space together, light the fuses—then stand well back!
"He and Dave got on like gas in a coal mine. They were explosive and dangerous, and needed to burn each other out of their systems."
It's like foreplay in sex scenes...sometimes that's more erotic than the actual event because it's the lead up and anticipation that gets the juices flowing and it's why I personally love it when there's a yummy clash of personalities between two stroppy guys. Enemies to lovers, love/hate relationships...they're two of my favourite tropes in a romance and are a great platform for hot, angry sex and steamy interludes.
Ricky's lips touched his, and when he pushed inside, Ricky sucked in with a breath so hard he stole all the air from Dave's mouth. "Holy...fuck."
When Dave and Ricky finally 'hit the sheets' after their sniping at each other it's nothing short of combustible. Electrically charged sex is always hot to trot!
"Let me. The fuck. Up." "Really? Why?" Dave's stubble scraped across Ricky's cheek. "Hasn't this kinda been our thing? You insult me, I insult you, and then we push and shove until we're both ready to come in our pants?"
I thought the love scenes at this point in their partnership were delicious. The heat between them was tangible and the banter, quite funny in a dry, at times, caustic way. Considering Dave's 'churchy' background he's really sexy and quite dominant with Ricky in the bedroom, and of course because the tension is so charged between them it made the sex even more satisfying, not just for them but for me as a reader too. Like I've said I had no complaints about that side of their pairing at all!
But then there's the matter of misunderstandings and miscommunication, and if any pair of guys could be poster boys for it, it's these two! To be honest this part of their relationship did become slightly wearing at times and if one thing grates on me in a book it can be this. Don't get me wrong, I was enjoying the story too much to ever fully lose patience with them but I did have an odd mumble to myself every time they hit another crossroad in their on/off romance that would generally have them backing away from each other, because one would be convinced the other wasn't really interested, when it was obvious to everyone else but themselves they were in fact pretty crazy about each other! Sheesh! I think this was a case of two extremely stubborn, obtuse men not taking time to step back and look past their own differences and troubles enough to take time to do what most people would do in most of the situations they encounter and that's...TALK for goodness sake!
And that's what it's all about, they dance around each other, whilst around them, what's going on in their outside lives continues to add to the tension. Family worries for both of them escalate, ex boyfriends put a spoke in the wheel, danger lurks in the background and the fate of the club hangs in the balance.
Looking back at the book as a whole I would have to say the first half was by far my favourite section, especially when they were sparking off each other and the love scenes were heated and frantic ... once the relationship started to get a bit more serious and those misconceptions started to clock up I felt it got a wee bit bogged down at times with the more negative aspects that conspired to keep them apart. The plot does introduce a bit of excitement towards the end and there's a pretty decent twist that actually I wish had been a bit 'meatier' in its lead up and had lasted a bit longer before it was resolved because I think the story did sometimes need a touch of 'something' extra to balance the bulk of the constant push and pull of the guys exhausting bouts of indecision, but then again these are Carrington men!!!
So do they finally get a happy ever after? Well that would be telling wouldn't it, but I guess you'll be hoping and rooting (like I did) that they do. However annoying their lack of awareness about each other's respective feelings could be sometimes, I still wanted them desperately to work it out and find the love and peace together that was not always easily fought for.
Of the two books up to now, the first is still my favourite, this one didn't quite live up to it but I can't deny a hell of a lot of my boxes were still ticked so it's a series I'll most definitely be reading right through to its conclusion. I like the way Ellis writes, I like her conflicted men and most of all I love that tingle she never fails to gives me with her mouth watering, sexually tense, relationship build ups. I'm guessing it's probably a rehabilitated but conflicted Sammy next, so that should be one to watch out for. **Taps fingers impatiently and wonders who she'll be pitching him against next!**
Dave faked a casual lean against the rust orange door to his room. He kept on waving goodbye to the taillights of Greg’s Charger until well after they disappeared around the corner of the motel. The night breeze and the sweat on his skin conspired to give him a chill, but he ignored it in favor of taking his time with the persnickety lock.
One of two things would happen here: he’d read the signals correctly from Ricky, and he’d have company in a minute. Or he hadn’t, and he would go beat off in the shower until his eyes crossed and his palms got hair and all the other things his Sunday school teachers had warned him of as a child. Either way, he was still buzzing from all the beer, and a little fresh night air couldn’t hurt.
Gravel scraped behind Dave, and he smiled to himself.
“Need help with that? Takes an experienced hand.”
Dave jiggled the key and the lock popped open. “My hand is plenty experienced. Thanks.” Whether it was the liquid courage or something else, tonight he was riding high.
We shouldn’t be doing this.
I want it to so badly I can’t fucking breathe.
He pushed the door open and stepped aside to let Ricky pass. The hat was gone, and he’d changed into a long-sleeved Henley that looked just as hot. When Ricky hung back, stretching his arms across the doorframe, Dave raised his eyebrows and pulled the door open further. “Coming?”
Ricky grinned at that and stepped across the threshold. He pulled a fistful of Dave’s shirt along with him. “Damn well better be.”
“That's hilarious,” Dave growled and kicked the heavy door shut, caging Ricky against it between his arms. When their lips brushed together and teeth clicked gently Dave was aware that so recently he had been in this exact same position with Jeremy. Despite the differences in history, this time everything fit.
Maybe that was the beer buzz talking.
They divested each other of clothes still pressed against the cold metal door, in between groans and moans and sloppy wet kisses. Nipples scraped nipples and hard-ons slid together. Warning bells went off in Dave’s brain. A million of them. Something he couldn’t define electrified him from the inside-out. In the heat of the moment it only made him want to rush forward faster.
Still, he managed to groan out the words, “This is a bad idea.”
Stripped Clean (Stripped Clean #1) by Ellis Carrington
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 for him going to do with their undeniable desires?
About the Author
Born after the Christmas of 2010 when she was gifted a Kindle and discovered the gay romance category on Amazon that same day. Romance requires a hopeful ending and that is why Ellis Carrington is driven to write it. She loves to create original stories that are gritty, witty, and a little unexpected, just like the heroes who inhabit them. Her guys come in both human and non-human form because spirit guides and vampires deserve love too. Her favorite things are great friends, great music, and books that make her sob like there’s no tomorrow.
Ellis is gifting one lucky reader an e-copy of Stripped Away, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.