Strong Enough, an all-new sexy standalone from USA Today Bestselling author Melanie Harlow and David Romanov is available now !
by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
Publication Date: June 19, 2017
I wasn’t looking for Derek Wolfe.
I wasn’t looking for anybody. All I wanted was to start a new life in America. But when I found myself stranded here with no place to go, he came to my rescue, offering me a place to stay.
He’s smart, successful, and sexy as hell—I can barely sleep knowing he’s right down the hall. And when the chemistry between us explodes one night with fierce, fiery passion, it’s hard to deny there’s something real between us.
But he does.
He says he was drunk. He says it was a one-time thing. He says he’s not into guys and what we did meant nothing.
He’s lying. Because it happened again, and again, and again. And it’s better every time.
I know we could be good together, and I want the chance to try, but I’m done hiding. If he’s not strong enough to admit the truth, I’ll have to be strong enough to walk away.
Figuring I’d had enough booze to blunt his effect on me, I rolled up the sleeves of my black button-down shirt and moved next to him. “I’ll help you.”
I caught him trying to not to look at my wrists and forearms, and it made me smile. How does it feel to want someone and have to hide it? “You wash, I’ll dry?”
We worked in silence, shoulder to shoulder, and I found myself increasingly—and disturbingly—pleased at the thought of him being attracted to me and being forced to conceal it. It was fucking horrible of me to take pleasure in his discomfort, but I liked being secretly wanted. Being illicitly desired. Being the object of his covert glances and maybe even his darkest, dirtiest thoughts. I let our arms touch more than necessary, as thrilled by the physical contact as I was by the thought of what it might be doing to him.
For there is no man who does not sin.
My dick started to get hard, clearly unbothered by the whiskey that was breaking down my inhibitions, pushing past all my defenses, and letting my imagination run wild.
What’s in that gorgeous head of yours, Maxim? What’s behind those cobalt eyes? What would you do to me, if I let you? What would you let me do to you?
“Carolyn is so nice,” he said, handing me the last serving dish left to be dried.
What? He was thinking about Carolyn right now? He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about Carolyn—I was, goddammit!
But I wasn’t. “Yeah.”
He turned off the water. Rested his wet hands on the edge of the sink. “I didn’t realize you had a girlfriend.”
And I heard it in his voice—the slightest edge of jealousy, so faint I might never have noticed it had I not been so hyperaware of everything about him right now. I fucking loved it.
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
“Oh.” Now there was confusion. “I guess I misunderstood.”
“She wants to be my girlfriend.”
Of course there was silence. Maxim would never ask what the problem was. But I wanted to tell him. I wanted him to know. I wanted to share the impossible longing I felt with one person who might understand it.
“The problem is me.”
He was completely still. Before I could stop myself, I covered his right hand with my left. “Sometimes I don’t know what I want.”
He yanked his hand from beneath mine and we faced each other.
For the first time tonight, I looked him right in the eye. Nothing around us existed for me anymore. I heard only his breath. Smelled only his skin. Saw only his guarded expression.
I had to have him.
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/YwYlrO
iBooks: Strong Enough
Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/eU1rwv
Melanie Harlow writes sexy, emotional romance about strong, stubborn characters who can’t help falling in love. She’s addicted to bacon, gin martinis, and summer reading on the screened-in porch. If she’s not buried in a book or binging on Netflix, you might find her running, putting a bun in someone’s hair, or driving to and from the dance studio. She lives outside Detroit with her husband and two daughters.
Melanie is the USA Today bestselling author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, MAN CANDY, AFTER WE FALL, IF YOU WERE MINE, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s.
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For David Romanov, STRONG ENOUGH is to a great extent autobiographical. Born in Russia and raised in Europe, he landed in the United States at the age of 24, where he learned a lot about cultural differences between East and West. David firmly believes in ‘The One’ and learning through love. When he isn’t traveling or educating Melanie in Russian culture, he enjoys books and the company of his husband and dog in Los Angeles.
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This book took me completely by surprise. I don’t read M/F romance, so I’m probably the one person reviewing this who has never read Melanie Harlow before. And I came in with a couple of walls up because I’ve been burned by crossover authors in the past. But this book completely knocked my socks off.
Derek was such a complex character. Honestly, for most of the book, I really didn’t like him. Well, it’s more accurate to say I went back and forth between really liking him and really not. But he was written *so well* and clearly written to be one of those like-him-hate-him characters. He’s bi, but has always fought that part of himself, determined to be hetero, because he can be overly concerned about what others think of him. He wants the pretty wife to take on business dinners because, what, show up with a husband? No way. He wants the wife and 2.5 kids that society (and his parents) dictate he should have. He wants a family, and over the 36 years he’s been alive, he’s somehow convinced himself the only way that can happen is if he’s married to a woman. And then comes Maxim to scramble up his perfectly organized life.
Maxim is sweet and pure and wise beyond his 24 years. He comes to America from Russia on a whim to chase down his dreams of living in LA and working as a screenwriter. His first night in LA, he meets Derek and his sister, Ellen. He was such a steady character throughout and, while at times he came across as very go-with-the-flow and gentle, he does have quite the backbone and doesn’t let Derek tread on him. I loved that.
The relationship between Derek and Maxim heats up pretty quickly (Max’s 2nd day with Derek), but the whole will-they-won’t-they-will-Derek-pull-his-head-out-of-his-ass thing kept me on my toes up until the very end. As frustrating as it could be at times, I completely loved that Derek didn’t have a change of heart and embrace his bi side immediately. Instead the struggle we witness felt very realistic. It was incredibly well done. The epilogue was pure fluff but by that point, we (and Derek and Maxim) had completely earned it.
I was incredibly impressed with this first M/M story by Melanie. Having David’s insight and ideas really bolstered this story. Bottom line, if Melanie and David team up for another book, I’m going to be first in line to preorder it.
A copy of this book was provided for review on OMGReads.