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Book CoverTabs’ review of Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire, Book 1) by Heidi McLaughlin
Contemporary Romance published by Loveswept 28 Mar 17

Well, folks, it’s only April and I’m on my second F review of the year. What could be so bad you ask? A “Pretty Woman” plot, an egotistical misogynist billionaire hero, and a ridiculous plot twist you can see coming a mile away all add up to what is easily the worst book I’ve read this year so far. (Please, please let the universe not take this as a challenge.)

Single mother Macey has been struggling for a decade to make life better for her daughter, but with no education and no support system she isn’t getting anywhere. When waitressing doesn’t cut it, she routinely resorts to partial-nudity stripping to pay the bills. When an opportunity to take a week away from home and make some quick cash in Las Vegas presents itself, Macey sees a temporary reprieve. Things take a turn, though, when an impulsive decision leaves her destitute and worse off than she started and an old blast-from-her-past swoops in with an offer she can’t refuse.

Finn, a swank Vegas hotelier, and Macey grew up in the same hometown but hailed from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds and they didn’t interact much outside of a one-time hookup as teens. Finn barely remembers Macey, but he finds he wants to help her out when he runs across her desperate self on the floor of one of his casinos. He hasn’t got an altruistic bone in his body, though, so his “help” is an offer to pay her a considerable amount of money for a week’s work of sex and escort services.

If you’re giving Finn the side-eye here, you definitely should. He’s a misogynistic hypocrite who looks down on sex workers while patronizing their services at the same damn time. He thinks she’s trash for having sex for money, but he’s still better than her even though he’s paying for it. This book is told through alternating first-person POV and Finn’s POV is full of some egregious bullshit. Here, I’ll let him talk for himself:

“Right now, she’s dressed like a whore and when we have sex I want her dressed like a respectable woman, one worthy of my attention.”

(Why does she have to be dressed when you’re boning? Whatever, dude. He also makes a mental note to have her google him so that she can see what a big shot he is in Vegas and be suitably impressed. This dude’s ego is so fragile.)

“As a stripper, Macey was hot and fuckable. As a woman wearing little to no makeup, with her hair down and dressed presentably, she’s someone you take to bed and worship. I think I like stripper Macey better because this Macey is putting stupid romantic thoughts in my head that I don’t want there.”

(Oh no, he might humanize her and get the feels! A fate worse than death!)

“I may have dressed her up, provided her with expensive clothes, but deep down she’s still a stripper.”

(Stripping is an occupation, not a character trait. Being a douche canoe, though, that’s a character trait.)

“I can’t decide if I miss her p*ssy and tits, or if I actually miss Macey. I suppose at some point they go hand in hand, but the bottom line is I can’t be the man she deserves.”

(He really can’t be the man she deserves because she deserves someone who treats her like an actual human being and not a set of disembodied sex organs. Run away, woman! Run away!)

The entire premise of this romance is squicky as hell. A woman resorting to prostitution to house and feed her child is not fun and sexy. Finn may not know her particular motivation at the outset, but he knows about her impoverished background, can see her desperation with his own damn eyes, and knows she’s incredibly vulnerable but purposefully takes advantage of it because he wants to sleep with her. The power dynamic is way skewed.

Finn is also an unrepentant misogynist asshole and he in no way deserves any kind of happy ending. At one point in the story, Macey calls him out for the way he swings from extremes – one moment a nice guy and the next a total piece of shit. He acknowledges it but doesn’t vow to rein in his dickitude or anything crazy like that. There’s no grovel. There’s no apology. There’s no “Gee whiz, I guess sex workers ARE people” epiphany. Macey and her daughter deserved better.

Grade: F


Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

No excerpt available.