If You Were Mine, an all-new sexy and emotional standalone from USA Today Bestselling author Melanie Harlow is now available!
5 STAY WITH ME CROWNS
After reading several Melanie Harlow books, okay all of them, I have come to realize that Melanie Harlow does a broken man really well. Her heroes are strong yet there are cracks in the armor, little aspects of their past that have hindered or stalled their growth, making them vulnerable. This aspect of her books is what I think makes them unique and gives a fresh look on the standard romance, and If You Were Mine is just another exemplification of this fresh and original voice.
Theo, the hero of the story, broke my heart with his self-doubt and his inability to see his worth. He is so charismatic and fun, seeming to really live life to the fullest, and yet he sees no value in himself. Everyone in his family and Claire see how worthy he is of love, but he refuses to acknowledge that worth. He doesn’t see that he is worthy of someone staying or worthy of someone loving all aspects of him, the good and the bad. Readers will desperately want him to see all he has to offer, and they will want him to realize before it is too late and he loses the best thing that he has ever had.
Claire is kind and understanding and a loyal friend, and while fear of failure or rejection inhibits her actions, she is willing to take the biggest risk of all with her heart by loving someone who is damaged and hurt. More than taking this risk, though, Claire learns to be brave through her relationship with Theo. She learns the risk of putting herself out there is rewarding, and with each passing day together, readers get to see how Theo changes her, making her a better version of the person she was before. One aspect of her character that is essential to the progression of the story is Claire’s insane ability to forgive. This is no way makes her a pushover as she forces Theo to deal with what has hurt them, but she doesn’t hold it against him, causing the what would be an inevitable break down. She is compassionate and understanding, and her love is the reason Theo heals and becomes a man worthy of her.
This story, like every Melanie Harlow story, is laced with so much emotion. The insecurities from both characters is hard, watching them discover their physical chemistry, only to be zapped by their emotional intimacy, seeing their downfall, and rejoicing in their reconciliation is everything I could have wanted from this book. It is perfectly paced, allowing the readers to see them grow and evolve as a couple but also independently. The pacing of the story also allows readers to fully invest in them as a couple, only making the conflict that much harder to take. But with all of Ms. Harlow’s broken heroes, their is redemption and peace to be found in the arms of the one you love.
Melanie Harlow’s novels always resonate with me because we are all broken a little. Our pasts have altered who we are and how we behave, but more than that, her novels offer hope that even the broken and damaged are worthy of love, worthy of someone staying for them, worthy of life filled with happiness and support, and worthy of forgiveness and trust. If her characters can get it, then maybe we can too!
I voluntarily read an early copy of this book.
Theo MacLeod wasn’t supposed to be the one.
Tall, dark and handsome suits me just fine, but the cocky grin, know-it-all attitude, and mammoth ego? No thanks. I only hired him so I wouldn’t have to sit at the singles table again. It was just pretend.
He wasn’t supposed to kiss me.
My heart wasn’t supposed to pound.
We weren’t supposed to spend the night together—the hottest night of my life.
One night turns into a snowed-in weekend away, and even the blizzard of the century can’t cool the fire between us. I can’t get enough—of his smile, of his body, of the way he makes me feel.
We’re nothing alike. He’s a daredevil, and I’m a nervous Nellie. He’s a drifter, and I want to put down roots. He’s an opportunist with a checkered past, and I’m a Girl Scout volunteer.
But none of it matters when I’m in his arms.
I know he’s made mistakes. I know his wounds are deep, and he doesn’t trust easily. I know he doesn’t believe he could ever be enough to make me happy, but he could.
All he has to do is stay.
Get your copy of If You Were Mine today!
A guy in a black leather jacket set a coffee cup down on the table and sat opposite me.
I looked over at him, feeling slightly awkward since I’d have to tell him he couldn’t sit there. He was handsome, with warm brown eyes and short dark hair, but he wasn’t Fred. “I’m sorry, I’m waiting for someone,” I said. “But I can move.”
To my surprise, he smiled confidently. “Claire, right? I’m Fred.”
I screwed up my face. “You can’t be. Fred has blond hair and blue eyes. I saw his picture.”
He laughed, almost condescendingly. “I don’t use my real picture, Claire. People are crazy.”
What? This made no sense. “I don’t understand. How can you advertise yourself with someone else’s photo? Don’t women get mad when you show up?”
He shrugged, his grin turning a little cocky. “Haven’t had any complaints so far.”
Actually, he was more attractive than the photo he’d used online—more rugged and masculine, with his scruffy jaw, big shoulders, and brawny chest. Meeting the real Fred was kind of like ordering the chicken piccata and being brought the Porterhouse, which hadn’t even been on the menu.
But that wasn’t the point.
(And I’d described someone completely different to Elyse.)
“So, what, you use a fake photo to lure potential clients and then you set up the coffee meeting to check them out first?” I asked indignantly.
“Wouldn’t you?” He shrugged out of his jacket. “It’s a scary world out there.”
I crossed my arms, sitting up tall. “No! That’s a scam. I don’t like scammers.”
“No, it isn’t. I don’t take any money from them. I don’t even talk to them, I just leave.”
Frowning, I said, “That doesn’t seem right to me. These people are willing to pay you to hang out with them and probably feel bad enough about themselves already, and you just walk out without even giving them a chance?”
He shrugged. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve only walked off a job once, and that was because I thought I recognized the woman. I prefer to keep my personal and professional identities separate. That’s fair, isn’t it?”
Professional identity? He was a rent-a-date! I shook my head in disbelief. “Is your name even Fred?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes,” I snapped. “How am I supposed to know what to call you?”
He grinned as he leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “Call me anything you want. You’re the boss.”
Was he flirting with me or making fun of me? I cleared my throat and pressed my knees tighter together. “I’d like to call you by your actual name, please. Bad enough I have to pay someone to play my fake boyfriend. I’d like something to be real, at least.”
He held his eyes steady on mine for a moment. I felt like he was sizing me up, trying to decide if he could trust me, so I stared right back without blinking. If anyone at this table was trustworthy, it was me.
“Theo,” he said quietly, his eyes dropping to my lips for the merest fraction of a second. “My name is Theo.”
There. Was that so hard? I smiled at him before picking up my latte.“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Theo.”
“What, you’re just going to believe me? You’re much too trusting, Claire. I bet people take advantage of you.”
I set the cup back down on the saucer with an angry clank. “Is your name Theo or not?”
“Shhh, it is, it is,” he said, laughing. Then he glanced over his shoulder like he was in the fucking CIA. “But I don’t give that out to just anyone. You should feel special.”
About the Author:
Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
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