Laid Bare is the first novel in Lauren Dane’s series about the Brown siblings. In the beginning of the book, Erin Brown is a young, struggling rock guitarist who becomes involved in a sexual relationship with her neighbor, Todd Keenan, a police officer. Their attraction is undeniable, but Todd quickly becomes uncomfortable with his need to dominate in the bedroom—even though Erin enjoys submitting—and ends their relationship. We then jump ahead about 10 years. Todd, now divorced from another woman and no longer a cop, has become comfortable with his own desires and has moved to the Pacific Northwest. When he runs into Erin in the café she now owns, he’s ready to reignite the relationship. Erin has given up a successful rock career after a personal tragedy and is still dealing with the repercussions from the tragedy. She is now a café owner and songwriter. Erin’s more than happy to resume their physical relationship—she still likes Todd’s dominance—but is more guarded with her emotions. Todd has to work to bring down Lauren’s walls and re-gain her trust. As Todd and Erin begin to fall in love, they both find themselves attracted to Todd’s friend, Ben. Soon the three are involved in a hot sexual relationship and both Todd and Ben are trying to help Erin overcome her tragic past.
I’ve now read several of Lauren Dane’s erotic romances. Laid Bare is by far my favorite. Ms. Dane always gives us strong characters for erotic romance, and Erin is one of her strongest. She knows who she is and is comfortable with her sexuality. She know what she wants and isn’t afraid to let her partners know. It’s a refreshing change from the heroines in many erotic romances are sweet innocents who are corrupted by the men. While she is unabashedly submissive in the bedroom, Erin is independent in the other aspects of her life. Despite her tragic past, she is determined to forge a life of her own and refuses to give into lingering fear. Her independence leads to some power struggles with Todd and Ben, who both want to protect her. These struggles feel real for these characters and give the romance an emotional punch that many erotic novels lack. Dane also handles the threesome relationship is a way that feels authentic. Erin, Todd, and Ben are so very careful in establishing rules that allow each of them to feel comfortable as they explore this unique relationship. Todd and Ben also have some mild M/M scenes. I felt that Ms. Dane was holding back a little with these scenes, but it the context of Todd being new to same sex intimacies, it worked.
We also meet Erin’s brothers in this book. Adrian is rockstar, and Brody owns the tattoo shop next door to Erin’s café. Both saw her through her tragedy and still want to protect her. Both are featured in their own books in the series, and I look forward to reading them. Brody, and his feelings for a woman who is upfront in her unwillingness to commit, especially caught my attention.
Lauren Dane is a standout in the erotic romance field and Laid Bare is one of her best. I give it a solid 4.