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.
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
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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.
Maxim finds himself stranded in the airport in LA fresh from Russia, when the guy who was supposed to pick him up never shows up. Unsure of what to do, he grabs a cab and ends up in a bar, where he befriends the owner after his carry-on bag with his clothes, money and bank card gets stolen at the establishment. Ellen asks her brother Derek to help Maxim out for the night, and he can't in good faith leave Maxim to his own devices, not even when the place Maxim was supposed to stay in for his stay in LA turns out to be a bust.
Derek has been battling his demons all his life, but after drinking too much one night, he simply can't resist the temptation that Maxim is for him any longer. While he claims it is a one-time thing, it happens again and again, until he can't deny himself any longer, at least for the two weeks that Maxim is supposed to stay with him. Maxim wants more, though, he wants them to be able to be a couple and stop hiding. Will Derek be strong enough to come out, and if he doesn't, will Maxim be strong enough to leave?
I absolutely loved Maxim from the first scene he was in. He was sweet, laidback and very mature, despite just being 24, probably due to his upbringing. He was determined to make it in LA as a screenwriter and wasn't afraid to work hard to achieve his dream, no matter if he had to take a few detours along the way. He was selfless and caring and I found his whole attitude endearing. Now, Derek was his complete opposite. He was a control-freak, with huge issues regarding his sexuality. I could understand where he was coming from, up to a certain point. But he was 36 years old and had a successful job and means to do something different if he needed to. He was unhappy and trying to force himself to like a woman because that was what was expected of him, no matter if the chemistry simply wasn't there. He also was very selfish and I hated that he could run from hot to cold and viceversa at the drop of a hat. Grrrr! He did get better... eventually, but it took quite a bit for him to get his head out of his ass enough to appreciate what he would lose if he didn't.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read (despite me wanting to strangle Derek a couple (of dozens) of times), the chemistry between Maxim and Derek was undeniable and the sex scenes were scorching hot and plentiful. *fans self* Maxim was adorable and the writing was great, a seamless collaboration and a fantastic first foray into MM for both Melanie Harlow and David Romanov. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Maxim and Derek in the future. Very recommendable!
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
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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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