Stripped - Jasinda Wilder
Forewarning, there are some spoilers in this review, so read at your own risk.

Upon the first few chapters, it was a bit difficult to connect with Grey for me. Her mentality made her seem younger than 16 and 18, I almost forgot how old she was a few times. She's a frequent crier which made me irritable toward her. Being the pastor's daughter, you're more sheltered from the things in the outside world. Unfortunately, that's what held her back from going after her dreams for years. Even though I, as a Christian, respect Grey's dads beliefs in terms of morality and the eyes/words of God, I felt for Grey when her dad told her that he will not allow her to take up dance and film in Los Angeles. It's her dream, and he was just too stubborn, and his stubbornness is what drove Grey away. If only he didn't have such a narrow mind when it came to LA where she wants to pursue a career in film, they could have salvaged their tarnishing relationship. He would see that what she wanted to do was not at all like what is seen on tv and papers.

In Matthew 12:25, Jesus says, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." The same applies to a home, and it's unfortunate that Grey's dad's stubbornness drove a wedge between them. Grey's dad says he's a man of faith, yet he didn't put it into practice when it came to his daughter. Jesus is supposed to be a bridge, not a wedge. He tried to propose a compromise, but on his terms. Unfortunately, he didn't go about it the right way. In the end he was just too overbearing, and put words in God's mouth just to convince Grey that her dreams are all sins which is what drove her further and further away.

I applaud Grey for finally standing up for herself and chasing her dreams. All her life, she has been controlled under her father's thumb, and it's time for Grey to take matters into her own hands. Albeit, I don't like the fact that she no longer believes in God. After losing her mom, I can understand why she no longer believes in Him, because in pain you will say and believe in the worst of things. Things hit the fan fast after that, that neither Grey nor her dad knew what hit them until it was too late.

The first 20% or so is slow-paced because we're getting to know the foundation of Grey's upbringing. Fast forward a couple years and Grey has been settled at USC pursuing a degree in film, and takes up an internship at Fourth Dimension. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. Grey has no choice but to, what they say, "strip her way through school," at a Gentlemen club to make ends meet when her scholarship runs out. At that point, she realizes that her father was right: she's doing a sinful act by taking her clothes off just as he feared and told her about. She hates to identify herself as a stripper. Then in comes Dawson Kellor, Hollywood's heartthrob. In that awful, slimy club is where we first meet Dawson. His behavior when they first encounter, you can tell that he sees something more in Grey straightaway. Instead of ogling her in the VIP room at the club like the other men have done, he saw right through her. He saw her potential, and knew that she did not belong there. That sets things up for his genuine interest in Grey.

THAT kiss between Grey and Dawson was uniquely sensual. The one in her dorm room which should have been their first kiss. How it made Grey feel foreign, outside of her comfort zone that seems dangerous but turns out erotic. The type of kiss that scares you out of your wits, but makes you want to take that plunge and get lost in it that you're not sure if you'll find your way out. Each kiss just gets hotter and hotter after that.

It was a good move of Wilder to take the time to write out Grey's appreciation of Dawson in detail after their declaration. The thought she puts into the details made it all the more vivid. It's moments like that, that they shared when you see your partner and even yourself in a new light. Their declaration of their feelings for each other may seem sudden, but after hearing Dawson talking about the lack of familial love in his life it makes sense.

Dawson is generous and compassionate when making love.
Grey: "Make love to me, Dawson. Please, make love to me."
Dawson: "With all my heart, yes."
Did not expect that from him, which made him all the more of a perfect lover. And their love making sessions steam up the pages.

I like was how they bring each others primal side out with wild abandon when being intimate, and venturing out to try new things that is outside of their (more like Grey's) comfort zone. Grey, hardly using any crass and dirty language at all, but tries it out in the heat of the moment was a bit awkward yet comical. It's just Grey exploring her sexuality with Dawson. As a couple, it's good to explore each other as well as the above and beyond. They bring something different to the table to indulge in and it helps strengthen their bond. In doing so, they also enjoy torturing each other with building anticipation that makes them embarrassingly responsive beyond coherent words, which is highly amusing and erotic all the same.

I expected Dawson to be upset when Grey ran away from him to her hometown in Georgia after they hit the sheets for the first time, but Dawson surprises me once again by following her and sticking by her side as she decides to make peace with her father. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see Grey and her dad grow close once again after they reunited. But was rewarded with them being arm in arm in the epilogue.

As the story progresses we see Grey grow, and with that, we grow with her as we're reading. She discovers who she is and who she's not. Her past of her stripping days doesn't define who she is, it's just what she used to do in order to make ends meet. With Dawson by her side, she found who she really is and where she belongs.

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