Undressed by Avery Aster (The Manhattanites #1)

Undressed by Avery AsterAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Erotic Romance

Publisher: Ellora’s Cave

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Michelle

Milan’s notorious playboy, Massimo Tittoni, seems to have everything–Lamborghinis, exotic women, palaces throughout Europe and business success. Ramping up his fabric company to go global with a new apparel brand, he ruthlessly stops supplying fabrics to the American client who inspired the collection. But once they meet, what’s he willing to give to get her in his bed?

Upper East Side designer Lex Easton will be damned if she’ll let an Italian stud muffin knock her down. So what if she named her favorite vibrator after him. With Fashion Week approaching, she’ll do whatever it takes to secure the fabrics she needs to become the next Diane von Furstenburg– even sleep with her rival. Lex’s Louboutins stilettos are dug in deep to win this war. All’s fair in love and fashion! But when she arrives in Europe the paparazzi chronicles her every move and she finds herself in a situation never imagined. Lex’s Louboutins stilettos are dug in deep to win this war. All’s fair in love and fashion!

After forcing myself to read this book all the way through (I admit I skimmed some parts), I’m wondering if I read the same book as other readers. Looking at other reviews for Undressed, I can’t believe this has been described as “smoking hot” or “outstanding”. I struggled with it for a variety of reasons, and it’s disappointing because the book had so much promise.

Lex Easton grew up the child of a rock legend, so she knew all about being in the limelight. After her father’s death and her mother’s subsequent fall from grace (which resulted in a rehab stint), Lex took life by the horns and became a huge success as a behind the scenes clothing designer. In two short years she conquered the fashion world and was hoping for even more success following her next NYC show. The only blip on her horizon was Massimo Tittoni, European royalty and head of the Milan company that supplied her fabrics.

Prince Massimo lives a privileged life, thanks in part to his birth but also due to sheer hard work and determination. When his father died, leaving him with only the title, the estate(s) and the textile company, Massimo was determined to become a success. Girasoli, his family business, had made its mark as an elite textile company, and he planned to take it a step further by branching out into the fashion design world. What he didn’t count on was Lex Easton. When he canceled shipment of her latest order (for nonpayment) and Lex showed up on his holiday to demand he fulfill their bargain, his interest was piqued in a big way.

As I said, this book had so much promise. I liked the idea and the storyline moved along well. Lex and Masi had an instant attraction that neither of them wanted to act on. She was irate that he not only refused to continue their business arrangement, but also that he was going to become her direct competition. She thought of him simply as a rich European playboy who was looking out only for himself. Even after developing feelings for him, she was reluctant to enter his world, determined to not live her life in the media’s eye ever again. Masi can read Lex loud and clear and knows she’s not a casual sex type of lady. Everything about her screams commitment, and he vowed never to lose his heart to a woman again (based on a tragic misunderstanding between him, his father and a woman he thought loved him when he was younger). He convinced her to spend time with him on the pretext of working out their business disagreement, but he really wanted to get to know her better.

Unfortunately most of this book reads like the screenplay of a porno flick. The dialogue is vulgar and crude and the love scenes are choppy (most of the writing in the book was this way, in fact). I am a fan of erotic romance, but there was nothing romantic or even very erotic about it. Every scene was like wham, bam, no thank you, wham bam thank you. The author threw in way too many “ooohs” and “aaahhhhhs”. She even gave the dogs a speaking part, as in “Woof woof woof”.

The characters all come off as some of the shallowest people you’ll ever read about. If this is what the high fashion world is like, I’m glad I am very far removed from it. I had a hard time believing these were two mature, successful business people – they simply seemed juvenile and raunchy. The author may have been trying for a sexual push & pull, but there was no sensual build-up, only inconsistent behavior by Lex & Masi. There were moments in the second half of the book that slightly redeemed the story. Massimo’s love for Lex practically jumped off the pages and Lex’s frustration over her life spiraling out of control was obvious. Massimo wanted to care for her and love her, and eventually Lex let him. I would have liked their love story to be portrayed in a more romantic and touching way.

I give Undressed by Avery Aster 2.5 stars

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