Review: Undressed by Kimberly Derting

6:37 PM

Undressed by Kimberly Derting | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

It was what you made of those changes--those life-altering moments--that defined you. Those were the parts that made life interesting. And amazing.

As a note, a review copy of this novel was provided in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. Thank you!

Well, well, well. Nothing to get your mind off a wicked case of typical autumn illnesses, and the bed rest they often put us on, like a heartwarming NA romance that doesn't slack on emotional punches. Undressed is sexy, smart and a surefire winner when it comes to recent releases. I'm stuck between giving it a 3.5 or a 4 star rating so expect that to change in the coming days because I simply can't decide. As far as introductions to a series goes, this first installment to The Men of West Beach is eye-catching and will keep your eye on the prize.

This is my first Kimberly Derting novel but certainly not my last! From what I see, it's a serious change of pace when it comes to her genres but a definite HIT. Far meatier, and intelligent, than its counterparts in the genre, this is a can't-miss read for NA fans. Perfect for fans of Krista and Becca Ritchie, Kimberly Derting's prose is everything you could want from the genre.

It's crackling with tension. Intriguing backstories. Delicious leads. Beautiful setting.

In short, it's one hop, skip and a jump away from setting you on fire.

I enjoyed so much about Undressed--the setting, the romance, the friendship, the family dynamics and the backstories. I liked the conclusion but found myself surprised by how quickly it came around. There were a lot of moments in the novel itself that I felt this sense of rushing but that's not something that took away from the novel. I really, really, really liked this and will gladly pick up the next in the series, despite it not focusing on Lauren and Will.

(100% because I love Emerson. 110% because I'm already invested in her story with Lucas.)

Let's talk things I loved about the story.

--Lauren's past. It's heavy. It's not something that is tackled head and on, honestly, and with little shame. By this I mean the world of online stripping. There's nothing shameful about it. What I like most about Derting's approach to this is the fact that it's upfront, it's not something that blankets the character in shame and that the way it ended is really, really realistic. And heartbreaking. That is... putting yourself out there, online, and never quite knowing who is watching. My heart really did break for the weight that Lauren had been carrying. I genuinely love this girl!

--Lauren's future and her approach to it. Everything from her relationship with Will, to her family and friendships, her growth and the amazing things she does for kids. I won't spoil all her plots but it's impossible not to love Lauren and I really mean it when I say I love her.

--Lauren/Emerson's friendship. Sweet. Supportive. Very much so the type of girlfriends you want in life. I only wish we had more of it--here's to hoping that we do, in Emerson's story!

--Will's past. His former career, the accident that put an abrupt stop to it (and the weight that puts on him now) and of course his family relationship. After his mother dies, and it became apparent his uncle was a POS (I'm putting this kindly) Will was forced to change nearly everything about his life. By that, I mean to take care of his teenage sister. There's no doubt this is tricky. Will and Tess are very much so siblings in that rare situation of 'who is taking care of who?' and 'well, you're not my parent' and it's just very interesting seeing that explored. The love is there. And their bond is one of those things that makes this novel beyond the realm of romance.

Other honorable mentions: Lauren's moms tragic backstory that is explored briefly, the gorgeous summer friendly backdrop.

Overall... Undressed may not be for everyone. It will strike a cord in many of us, though and warm our hearts just as much as our, ah, well. Definitely a delicious and compelling read that is set far apart from the (at times lackluster and overcrowded) genre. Kimberly Derting breathes so much life into this characters and one things for certain: it's as soulful as it is romantic.

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