My younger sister informed me that she reads my blog every day. It's just she only comments when naughty books are mentioned (see below post). So yes darling sister, I'll be sending you my copy of Strip Poker by Lisa Lawrence. It's actually quite good. The mystery is a bit convoluted at times, but it's still very good.
This is one review I feel the need to write a disclaimer for. Strip Poker has the tag line "An Erotic Thriller." Notice romance isn't mentioned anywhere. That's because there isn't one. The book ends happily, but there is no traditional happily-ever-after. Frankly, I'm having a hard time pinning down who I would recommend this book to besides my sister. I just don't see a lot of the traditional romance readers I know going for it. But if you genre hop in erotica outside of erotic romance this might work for you. Anyway on with the show:
Teresa Knight is a girl of all trades. She doesn't have a "real" job, instead floating about the globe picking up odd jobs here and there. We meet her in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan where she's hanging out with the locals, playing strip gin rummy with an American aid worker, and getting in touch with her African roots. But things turn sour after the prolouge, and we meet up again with her in London.
She's called upon by her old friend, Helena, who runs an exclusive male escort service. Only male escorts darling, dealing in female escorts is messier. Anyway, one of Helena's men received a threatening note, and so has one of her best clients. Janet Marshall is a very prominient black female politician whose name has been dropped in regards to the open High Commissioner of South Africa post. Problem is, someone seems to have discovered her secret. Janet likes her sex on the wild side. Seeing an intriguing puzzle to solve (and a nice check in her future), Teresa takes the job and begins by infiltrating the underground strip poker circuit.
Helena sets up some of the games, and medically screens the players. The wagers all involve sex acts (naturally) and once in on the game, Teresa uncovers a lot of potential suspects. She's soon playing with fire trying to uncover motives and bad guys. But the girl is smart, savvy, and sexy as hell - so she's definitely up for it.
First things first, this is not a romance (have I said that already?). Besides the fact that Teresa gets around, I wouldn't call any of the erotic elements in this story particularly romantic. Erotic, definitely. Hearts, flowers, rainbows and moon beams? Not even close. The closest we get to romantic is the girl-on-girl action, and by that point Teresa finds herself attracted to a man who is not available. It's not that's he's taken per se, it's that he won't admit that he's taken. It makes for some messy sexual entanglements.
The mystery is quite good, but confusing in parts. Teresa spins her wheels for a while, and once she begins to put it together she talks it out. It's this talking that gets confusing. It's a lot better once the villain is revealed, then the author begins deailng in bite size pieces instead of eight-course meals. But it's intriguing, exotic, and timely - plus we get naughty sex tossed into the mix. Hey, I'm game.
Also of note, there's a nice sense of place here. It's all very "British." Trust me, I knew this story was taking place in London. No confusing it with any other locale.
Final Verdict = B. I liked this one quite a bit. I really liked Teresa and the first person narration (a deal breaker for some readers, but I actively seek it out). I will easily read Lawrence again. Hands down.