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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Reviewed for Kindle friends Forever by Klaire Sutherland
This was a late addition to our review schedule so there wasn’t really much time to think about the blurb before reading, however within the first chapter it was abundantly clear that Strong Enough was a book that I was going to enjoy. Now, I prefer my books with some grit – a lot or a little – it doesn’t particularly matter, especially with a M/M book, as long as I can sink my teeth into it. Strong Enough is not that kind of book, there’s no dark, gory details within the pages, there’s no rough around the edges alpha males competing with one another but what there is here is a beautiful story that captivates the reader and with each chapter the compulsion to keep reading was there in spades. I loved the ‘easy’ read that this book seemed to be. The words carried me, the story held onto me and didn’t let go. I was sitting with two other bloggers over the weekend trying to explain what it was that hooked me about Strong Enough and I simply couldn’t find the words to explain why. In hindsight, having thought about the book a long time, I think perhaps the fact that it feels like a ‘real’ read, something true to life, is what had me hooked. My understanding is, from the Q&A with the authors at the back of the book, that Strong Enough is somewhat part autobiographical. For me, the writing captures the realism of the story and it’s most likely why I found it so appealing and loved reading it.
The characters had a fantastic depth to them, tremendously likeable even when things were not quite ideal. Derek and Maxim were made for each other, neither expected on another but boy did they have something that we all wished we could find. The chemistry between these two men sizzled from the very beginning. I loved how they met and I loved how they ended up. The secondary characters fell into place pleasantly, complementing the story in all the right places and extremely affable.
I’m not familiar with Melanie Harlow’s writing but I felt that she nailed this. Angsty in all the right places, some serious steam and lots of reflective voice that never bored me. I can’t really say that much more about this book in all honesty, there’s nothing I would change, nothing that bothered me, nothing that made me think twice about awarding this book the 5 stars it so thoroughly deserves. Beautifully written, full of emotion, richly descriptive and perfectly balanced. What I will say is this – Strong Enough surprised me. It’s not the kind of book I read and enjoy, yet this bowled me over. Find a cosy corner somewhere and grab a glass of wine, give yourself a few hours to get lost with Derek and Maxim’s story, you won’t regret a second of it. I promise.
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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