Review & Giveaway: Stripping Her Defenses (Ex Ops #2) by Jessie Lane

Posted November 14, 2014 by bookstobreathe in Book Review, Giveaway / 0 Comments

Review & Giveaway: Stripping Her Defenses (Ex Ops #2) by Jessie LaneTitle: Stripping Her Defenses
Author: Jessie Lane
Series: Ex Ops #2
Publisher: Whiskey Girls Publishing
Release Date: October 31, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Mystery
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Kobo
Purchase: Audible
He can't change the scars on her body... but fate will give him a second chance to mend the scars he put on her heart.

Riley Sullivan and the Ex Ops Team are headed to Miami undercover… as bikers. Following up a lead, the men will perform their investigation acting as members of the Regulators Motorcycle Club with the club’s permission. Surrounded by hardcore bikers and investigating missing strippers, Riley finds the last person he ever expected to see again—his ex-wife.

Kara Sullivan left the man she loved after a tragic accident cost them their unborn son. After years of therapy, she’s come to grips with the loss and has re-emerged from the pain a brand new person. That doesn’t mean she’s ready to face the man who inadvertently broke her heart, and who she’s hurt in return.

Riley has never stopped loving her and he never will. He’s ready to fix their marriage and move on with their lives, however Kara’s reluctance to renew their relationship isn’t their only problem. Danger lurks just around the corner… and there’s a chance she could disappear permanently.

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I was so focused on her, so oblivious to everything else, a bomb could have gone off right next to me, and I would never even have known to kiss my ass goodbye.

This had happened only one other time in my life.

The first time I’d laid eyes on Kara.

I didn’t know who the fuck this woman was, but I knew what she was about to become.


All fucking mine.

A sick, twisted part of me mocked how much she looked like my Kara: same tanned skin with that subtle red undertone, same dark brown hair color and molten chocolate eyes. Did it really fucking matter, though?

Mission or no mission, I would make this woman mine in every way that counted while I was here. I could figure out the future later. Fate didn’t hand you moments in life like this so you could fucking ignore them.

She must have felt my eyes on her because, all of a sudden, she got this adorable little furrow between her brows and shifted her gaze to see the room behind her in the mirror. That’s when her eyes locked with my own and she gasped, dropping her lipstick. Twirling around on her high heels, one of her hands reached up to cover the area of chest over her heart, and a strangled sound left her throat.

Taken aback by her reaction, I was about to apologize for obviously scaring her when I hadn’t meant to, but Lucas’s voice rang out from down the hall before I could open my mouth.

“Yo! Sullivan! Bring your ass down here and stop checking the girls out.”

I turned my head in Lucas’s direction as I flipped him the bird, but I was again cut off by a voice before I could tell him he could shove it up his ass. Only, this time, the voice that interrupted me was soft, feminine, and one I heard every night in my dreams.



That scantily clad stripper was my goddamn wife!

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My Review:

 Anyone who knows me knows how adamant I am about reading series in order. So while this book technically CAN be read first, I wouldn’t recommend it. I devoured these two books in two days flat. There is something so primal about a strong man in uniform that calls to our core. I loved that while this was a romantic book, it wasn’t short on action or suspense. I think a lot of authors fall flat when it comes to adequately describing the missions that military men are involved in. Either they are entirely too technical, to the point that it distracts from the over all story, or they under emphasize it, glazing over like the reader couldn’t comprehend what was going on. Jessie Lane excels at not only putting you in the scene with these men, but actually enjoying it. She not only made my heart race, but made it stop a few times as well.

Who wanted to live life to the fullest when you felt like half of yourself was off somewhere in the world, missing from your side?

While all the characters are back from Secret Maneuvers, the stars of this show are Riley and Kara. We last saw Riley as the silent, moody, broody, yet man with an obvious back story. I had a feeling going into this book that it would be emotional, but nothing could prepare me for just HOW much it was. I love stories of first loves separated by tragedy, then finding each other later in life. With every page it takes them to overcome whatever obstacle is in their way, it just adds fuel to my little angst monster’s fire. And let me tell you; he LOVES it! You see, I need the angst to properly enjoy the inevitable joyous outcome. For without struggle there can be no true happiness. I won’t go into what caused their separation; just know that there was no wrong party. I feel like it all boiled down to a break in communication, which inevitably is the cause of most separations. Riley and Kara weren’t talking to each other, and they broke. But when these two come back together? Combustible! I thoroughly enjoyed this story and felt every tear, every heartache, and every triumph.

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Stripping Her Defenses Playlist Descriptions

The playlist for Stripping Her Defenses is huge. There were a ton of songs that helped inspire this book. I’ll warn you, there’s a lot of heart break on the playlist, but that goes hand in hand with Riley and Kara’s heart breaks.

I realized there was so much music on my playlist, that I could break it up for you ladies. So, this is Kara’s playlist. I hope it gives you some insight (or intrigues you) as to what Kara is going through during this book. Which is a lot. She goes from a broken, confused woman to someone who finds herself while slowly healing.

I hope all of you enjoy! XoXo Jessie

Beyoncé – Pretty Hurts

Beyoncé has such a way with expressing women’s emotions. She cuts through all the bullshit to the issues we all face on some level. This song was perfect for Kara before her divorce.

3 Doors Down – Let Me Go

I’m a 3 Doors Down fanatic. I’m pretty sure I drove my Dad nuts with their music when I was in high school. So, when I plotted this book, saw where it was going, I immediately knew that a couple of my favorite songs fit perfectly. This is one of those songs. After Kara loses their son, and leaves Riley, she becomes the epitome of this song.

Carrie Underwood – Wasted

This song is beautiful in the way that a person can reflect back on to a time in their life, see all of the mistakes, and wish things had gone differently. Both Kara and Riley have those regrets about their marriage and then their divorce. The time that they wasted when they could have worked harder, together, to fix the issues their marriage had.

3 Doors Down – Here Without You

Although, if you listen to the lyrics, this song would be from Riley’s perspective, this was always a Kara song for me. The spouse left behind while their husband/wife deployed out for a mission. It’s a hardship only those that endure understand. Kara did it out of love, because she accepted her husband for who he was. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt when he was away.

Halestorm – I’m Not An Angel

This song very much pertains to Kara’s transformation after her divorce from Riley. She’s not the sad, meek housewife she once was. Now that she’s gone through the loss of both her unborn son and her husband, she emerges from her pain and many sessions with her psychiatrist a brand new person. A woman who’s a lot more confident and sassier than she was before. And she’s not afraid to relay this to Riley when he finds her in Miami.

Seether ft. Amy Lee – Broken

Kara is in a predicament when it comes to Riley. She loves him, even after the divorce and all the pain they have caused each other. The problem is, she’s not sure how to move on from that pain. She feels guilt for the way she left him, but she also was deeply hurt by the many times he chose voluntary SEAL missions over her. When two people hurt each other so much on fundamental levels, it can be hard for them to move past the pain to focus back on the love that they may still have. This song represents both Kara’s pain and her frustration over loving a man she’s not sure she can have anymore. Hence, “Broken”, but can you piece those jagged pieces back together?

You can check out all of these songs and more on the complete Stripping Her Defenses playlist on my website.

Thanks for having me and I hope you enjoy both the music and Kara and Riley’s story in Stripping Her Defenses!

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Stripping Her Defenses Riley’s Playlist Descriptions

The playlist for Stripping Her Defenses is huge. There were a ton of songs that helped inspire this book. I’ll warn you, there’s a lot of heart break on the playlist, but that goes hand in hand with Riley and Kara’s heart breaks.

I realized there was so much music on my playlist, that I could break it up for you ladies. So, this is Riley’s playlist. Riley is a haunted man. He’s lost so much. The wife he loved, but didn’t understand, and their son. He feels as though he’s lost his reason to keep going, but he’s not sure how to get it back either. I love Riley. His pain spoke to me on a fundamental level.

I hope all of you enjoy!

XoXo Jessie

Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen & Scott Reeder – From Can To Can’t

I can’t even begin to express how AMAZING this song is. First of all, how many bitchin’ rock songs are out there that feature classically trained cellists? Add in the front man for the band BUSH and this song will more than likely be playing in my house until the end of time. It really hit home for me though for Elena. I’m not dropping spoilers for the book here, but let’s just say that the moment Gage breaks Elena’s heart, this is the song I here for her.

Papa Roach – Leader Of The Broken Hearts

Oh, Papa Roach. How I love thee. Let me count the ways. So, I’m a total fan-girl over their music. It’s safe to say they stay on repeat until my family begs me to stop before their ears bleed. This song was the first that came to mind when I thought of Riley’s pain and regrets about his ex-wife Kara. He has a profound love for her. And quite frankly, he’s a robot walking through life without her. He’s a man with a broken heart and no hope for happiness because his happiness is Kara and she’s gone.

Papa Roach – Wish You Never Met Me

Again, Papa Roach. I listen to a ridiculous amount of their music and more than likely you can find at least one Papa Roach song on each of my book’s playlist. The band has such a profound way of reaching me with their music and making me feel the lyrics. This song pertains to Riley’s pain over his certainty that Kara must have regretted him to have left him in the manner that she did.

My Darkest Days ft. Ludacris, Zakk Wylde – Porn Star Dancing

Do you see the title of that song? Yeah. This is what I listened to on repeat when I wrote my scenes of Kara stripping. I might have danced around to it in my bedroom when no one was watching… or not. 😉

Black Stone Cherry – Stay

Ohhhh I love Black Stone Cherry. And this is one of my favorite songs by them. Pay attention peeps! Florida Georgia Line COVERED this song. Black Stone Cherry is the original. Frankly I prefer the BSC version better. Anyways, this song is beyond beautiful. A representation of what one would do for the person they love. A plea for their loved one to stay. Riley’s plea to Kara to come back to him. I’d come back to Riley if he sang this song to me. 😉

Black Stone Cherry – In My Blood

A fantastic song to represent Riley’s dedication and pride in his military service. Simply, some people are born with the heart and soul of a warrior. They believe in what they’re doing and at time sacrifice the other things they love in this life, such as time with their families, to pursue the things they believe in. Riley Sullivan is one of those warriors.

Crossfade – Cold

Another song sevoted to Riley’s regrets. He never meant to seem cold and unfeeling to the problems Kara had in their marriage. He simply didn’t understand them. It was easier to run from the problem than to face it.

Other songs that inspired this book on a fundamental level were:

Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Haley Reinhart’s cover – House of the Rising Sun

Bruno Mars – When I Was Your Man

Adele – Make You Feel My Love

Justin Timberlake – Mirror

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Secret Maneuvers (Ex Ops #1)

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Some mistakes from the past haunt us forever… unless fate steps in with a second chance.

One ‘Dear John’ letter haunted Bobby Baker’s every living moment. It was the letter he’d stupidly written to his high school sweetheart, Belle, right after he had left to join the Army. The letter in which he’d told her that he wasn’t so sure they were ready for forever yet. Before he could let her know that the letter, and his second thoughts, were nothing more than a mistake, she disappeared from the small Georgia town they had both been raised in.

Fifteen years after the letter, Belle unknowingly walked back into Bobby’s life when her job as an ATF Agent forced her to work with a group of men secretly headed by the CIA to help her track down whoever was involved in funneling black market weapons to a drug cartel in Mexico.

Bobby planned to use this mission to try to soothe Belle’s hurt feelings while proving to her that their love was meant to be forever. He would use every dirty trick he’d learned since he had joined the Army to maneuver her back into his life for the long haul. Belle was not making it easy, though, as she continued to keep him at arm’s length in the hopes that mistakes of her own would never come to light.

About Jessie Lane

Jessie Lane is the writing team of Crystal Leo and Melissa Pahl. The two sisters-in-law share a passionate love of naughty romance, cliff hanging suspense, and out-of-this-world characters that demand your attention, or threaten to slap you around until you do pay attention to them. Because really, it is ALL about the characters. (They’re kind of megalomaniacs – but don’t tell them that we said that.)

Their first YA novel, The Burning Star, was released in May 2012. Big Bad Bite is their second novel, but their first adult paranormal romance, and was released in January 2013. Their third book, Secret Maneuvers, will release in June 2013, and will be the start of a new adult contemporary romance series (Ex Ops Series). They are now working on their next two novels, Walk On The Striped Side (Big Bad Bite Series #2) and The Frozen Star (YA Star Series #2).With these projects underway, they are looking forward to showing the rest of the world their crazy stories, heroes and heroines that often plague their minds until written, and hope you will join them on their journey!

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