Stripped begins well, but even though the leads are engaging, the sub-plot and the addition of too many secondary characters interfered with their screen time. I appreciate that the author tried to do something different here, but her execution wasn’t all it could be.
At the start of the book, Lilith St. Lyon, a powerful witch, is stripped of her powers because she blatantly disregarded rules of the Wiccan culture. Not only did she work with police and use her powers to solve crimes, she also used them to make the hero, Detective Mac Mancuso, fall in love with her. All of this is just too much for the powers that be, and her sister does the bidding of the elders; with a simple touch to the head and the heart, Lilith is turned into a normal human being. Only if she recognizes the error of her ways will she get her powers back.
Lilith is a strong, determined woman. She also has a sense of humor, and brings a welcome lightness to the book. Mac is your basic alpha male, an experienced detective who before meeting Lilith, solved cases his way. It took him a while to realize that Lilith has true psychic powers, and that she has been working her magic to make him love her. Mac is determined to stay away from her because of the further damage he knows she can do to his heart.
They come together only because, despite all this, Mac needs her help on a case and is forced to reach out to her. Herein lies the dilemma. Lilith can no longer help him because she has lost her powers. She agrees to help anyway, and finds the right time to tell him who she really is – or was – and why she is no longer clairvoyant. Together, Lilith and Mac get involved in solving a mystery the old fashioned way.
It is fun to watch Lilith discover herself, and what she is capable of as a woman. Now she can experience what it is like to truly fall in love without weaving a spell. Even better, she knows what it is like to make love without knowing what will happen next. It’s an equal joy to watch Mac; it’s very romantic to see how strong his feelings are for her, even when she tells him of her past. The lovemaking is not as hot as other Blaze books I have read, but it felt just right.
Unfortunately, the book isn’t particularly well balanced. To go into any depth would constitute a spoiler, but too many other characters (including two main secondaries, the witches, and later a warlock) – and the mystery subplot – compete with Mac and Lilith’s romance. Frankly, I found myself annoyed when the mystery and secondary characters interefered with the romance.
The rest of Stripped didn’t match it’s fantastic start, even though I really liked Lilith and Mac. I give the author credit for trying to write something different, but in this instance, the romance was over-run by others and other things. Sometimes less is more.