|Bare It All is the second book in Lori Foster's Love Undercover series and it's an interesting read that stands well on its own.
Alice Appleton, once seriously victimized and kidnapped for a year by a violent human trafficker, lives a fearful life. Alice lives like a shadow, hiding from her family, with no personal relationships and weapons concealed throughout her apartment. Now that she knows how easy it was to become a victim, she's ever vigilant and on guard against how seemingly normal people can turn into venomous victimizers.
Despite her resolve not to let anyone get close, Alice has had a hard time ignoring her sexy neighbor, Reese Bareden. As attuned as she is to the world around her, Alice immediately notices a stranger sneaking into Reese's apartment and calls the police. When the stranger incident is resolved, Reese's apartment is slightly unlivable and Alice invites him to stay with her while his place gets fixed up.
Detective Reese Bareden is a curious man to his core, and he's hell bent on figuring out his pretty next door neighbor. He discovers that she lives with a cache of hidden weapons, is incredibly open in discussions with her opinions while very guarded about her past. She sets off all of Reese's protective instincts, while goading him into trying to figure out why she's so haunted.
While Reese and Alice dance around each other in her apartment, Reese is busy with a heavy caseload at work, chasing the bad guys and getting his place back together. Alice is drawn into a dangerous ring of criminals when she notices a woman being victimized. Alice refuses to stay silent while another woman gets hurt like she did, but that doesn't extend to telling Reese what she's up to, which is starting to land her in serious trouble that she may not be able to handle on her own.
Bare It All is an interesting story, Alice's character makes the beginning of the book go quickly but then it fell off track for me.
Alice is an alluring mix of vulnerability, strength, openness, sweetness and strategic thinking. It takes a while to figure her out as she's as stingy with her thoughts and background with the reader as she is with Reese. She's so intriguing and fresh that it's lovely to get to know her and fun to root for her as she unfolds.
Reese is a typical alpha male, his hard working, tough, sexy persona is easy to like and impossible to ignore. His passion to get into Alice's life and help her spread her wings is infectious.
The downfalls of this well set up tale are that Reese is a good hero but not a great one, Alice consistently outshines him. Also, that Alice's backstory has a lot of drag while it's being mixed in with the present day. The beginning of the story was muddled with the situation at Reese's apartment being largely unexplained and left alone but then dragged into the mysterious criminal happenings in the background. I was annoyed by the whole confusing mess of it, and while I tried to tune it out and focus on the main couple's story, it was distracting. I wasn't impressed by the middle of the story and it dwindled from there for me. Bare It All just didn't do it for me.
-- Amy Wroblewsky