Laid Bare by Lauren Dane
Series: Brown Family #1
Also in this series: Laid Bare (Brown Family, #1), Coming Undone (Brown Family, #2), Never Enough (Brown Family, #4), Drawn Together, Inside Out , Coming Undone (Brown Family, #2)
Publication Date: August 4, 2009
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler » No « Hide Spoiler
Content Warning: View Spoiler » Violence, Domestic Abuse, Stalking « Hide Spoiler
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
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It's been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn't in the cards just yet...
Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin's past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd's best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed--and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?
I put off reading this book when it was released because I thought it was a paranormal. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. I’m really sorry for it, too, because the book turned out to be awesome.
10 years ago Erin and Todd were lovers, but Erin broke things off because Todd wasn’t fully comfortable with his sexuality. Erin refused to feel dirty or ashamed of herself or her feelings about sex, and that’s how Todd made her feel.
Now they’ve run into each other again and both have changed. Todd has finally accepted the darker aspects of his sexual nature and is ready to explore them. Erin still isn’t ashamed of her sexual preferences, but she’s lost a lot of her confidence and now lives in a constant state of fear. She was brutally attacked several years before and lost something very precious. Now she’s just trying to get by one day at a time.
She agrees to start an affair with Todd, but doesn’t think it’ll be anything more than sex. Her heart was shattered and she knows she won’t be able to give it away again. But she’s shocked when she realizes she’s falling for Todd. He suggests adding a third into their bed, his best friend Ben, and she’s even more shocked to realize she’s coming to care not just for Todd, but for both of them.
The characters in this novel are all struggling in some way to deal with things that happened to them in the past and who they really are. Each has things they have to overcome in order for their relationship to work.
Although Todd showed growth and maturity in this novel, it was Erin who really stole the show. She suffered an unspeakable horror and really had to fight to come back from it. She was broken inside. I really liked that Dane didn’t try to force her into being “fixed”. As the novel progresses Erin shows major growth, but she isn’t completely healed. I don’t think you can ever completely heal from something like what Erin suffered. Her recovery was slow, and even by the end of the novel it wasn’t fully complete. I found her struggle to be totally realistic and one of the better parts of the novel.
I also like that Dane fully explored the relationship between the three. Often a triad is portrayed in a superficial way, but she really dug into the darker aspects of it here. I especially like the way Dane deals with and portrays BDSM. Often I’m put off by it, because it seems to be nothing more than a show of cruelty and humiliation. That isn’t the case here, though. I truly felt the emotional connection and love behind the domination and submission. I even found it beautiful, something I can say hasn’t ever happened before.
I really felt for Ben as he struggled to find his place with Todd and Erin, especially since he and Todd had the most to lose with their friends and family. As a rock star – or former rock star – Erin didn’t really have to worry about what other people though of her, especially since her brothers – her only remaining family – accepted her unconventional relationship. But as the owners of a fledgling security firm with conservative parents, Todd and Ben had a lot to lose.
I was bothered by the way Ben’s father’s reaction was glossed over. We see them going to speak to his father to tell him the truth about their relationship, but we never saw his reaction. I also thought it was strange that Erin lived such an anonymous life. For years she was a major rock star, and though she’s out of the spotlight now, her brother is still a major talent and she records with him and writes all his music. I would think she’d still be more recognized than she was.
Those are minor issues, however, and didn’t detract from the story. What did detract from it somewhat was the relationship between Todd and Ben. They’re best friends who’ve known each other their whole lives, and yet they didn’t realize they shared many of the same sexual urges. I understood that because of the way it was explained, but I didn’t understand the jump Todd made into being attracted to Ben. I fully accepted that Todd wanted to add Ben into his relationship with Erin, but I couldn’t as easily accept that he was attracted to Ben. He’d never thought about men before, but all of a sudden he’s ok with having a physical relationship with Ben? That struck me as odd and seemed totally out of context.
Otherwise I really enjoyed this novel. The secondary characters were richly drawn and added perfect balance to the story. I loved that all three of them were so family oriented.
Laid Bare is an emotionally compelling character study. I’m glad this is the beginning of a new series, because I’m not ready to leave the world yet.
4.25 out of 5