Loved Lex and Massimo

Undressed - Avery Aster
The set up
Alexandra (Lex) Easton's fashion design company is highly successful because of her talent and the unique fabrics provided by Girasoli, an Italian company headed by Massimo Tittoni. As fashion week is fast approaching, Lex's fabric order has not arrived and Massimo isn't taking or returning her calls. With time running out and her company's survival on the line, Lex boards a plane and hunts him down at his family's Mediterranean resort south of Sicily. 

The issues
Massimo has withheld the fabric for good reasons but he's charmed by the appealing Lex who he originally thought wasMr, Easton. It's an instant attraction, though Lex has had a secret infatuation for the Italian prince for awhile. But, Massimo has secrets and ulterior motives of his own that could bring an end to Easton Essentials in spite of his feelings for her. 

What I liked about the story
I really liked Lex and very much liked Massimo. She was the daughter of the late Eddie Easton, a hard-living rock star, and Birdie, a former model who's been in and out of rehab. Life hasn't been easy for her but she's strong, independent, talented and feisty. Lex is pretty clever and keeps Massimo on his toes. He likes the challenge and is quite an imaginative lover, their affair highly erotic and steamy. I also learned a lot about the industry and the Italian setting was a perfect backdrop for most of the story. 

The second half of the story was the most intriguing as their relationship is tested. Both are much more complex than first presented and issues from their pasts rise and plague them in the present. These are their finest moments and I got a much better sense of who they really were.

What didn't work so well
There's a fine line between sexy and crude and there were just too many instances where the dialogue crossed that line, especially with Lex. It seemed out of character and just made the scenes unappealing. I really liked this woman and at times I just cringed at the conversations. Massimo was a class act and there was a credibility issue in believing he would remain attracted to someone who behaved the way Lex did at times. It bothered me enough that I almost gave up on the book before I reached the halfway mark. I also wearied of Massimo limiting their sexual encounters to essentially heavy petting for most of the book. It just didn't make sense and was just silly after a point. Men just wouldn't behave this way, especially someone like Massimo. 

The bottom line
The second half of the book is what saved the story and it was pretty compelling. There's a depth of character in both Lex and Massimo that is elusive early on but was worth the wait. I won't deny that the crudeness was a turnoff, not because of what was said but because it didn't fit the characters or suit the situations. That righted itself eventually and I enjoyed the story and romance overall. And, I liked having an insider's view of a fascinating industry. Rated 3.5 stars

(I received an ARC from Edelweiss)