by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov
Contemporary MM Romance
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.
Every once and a while a book comes along that is so beautiful, so incredible and so real that it just stays with you. It's a book you won't forget reading, and one you'll read over and over. Strong Enough is definitely one of those books.
I know some people might see this blurb and check out, thinking it's another M/M story that doesn't have substance. I urge you not to be that person. This book, while yes M/M, is so much more than that. At the very core of the book is love, and love is love is love. You don't want to miss the opportunity to read this book.
I immediately felt for Derek. You sympathize with his internal struggle-even before he knows he's struggling. He's so controlling of his environment because it's something he can control, unlike his feelings. The journey to self acceptance here is incredible. It's not easy. I cried-more than once. But oh Derek was worth every tear.
Maxim. Strong, brave, Maxim. I applauded the acceptance he had of himself, of others. His understanding of Derek was uncanny. The lessons he was able to teach Derek were so perfect. I loved that he stayed strong for himself-it broke my heart that he had to, but I loved that he could. That he was confident in himself to stand on his own instead of hiding.
These two click in such a way that you're invested in them from their very first meeting. I held my breath at so many moments (and I don't want to spoil them) but it's all the little things that added up for me. I spoke out loud and said, "YES, now!" when they had their first kiss. Again, these two hold a special spot in my heart and even when they both broke it, they pieced it back together in a way that only they could.
These authors words blended together seamlessly. Co-writing can be tricky but it worked incredibly well here. The pacing of this story was perfect. Derek needs time-and so doe Maxim, really, and the authors give them that. These characters breathed in this story. I felt I could meet them on the street they were that real for me.
This is a book that will stay with me. It's such a beautiful, REAL, love story. I cried more than once and I know I'll cry again when I reread it. I highly recommend this book.
What a stunningly beautiful story.
While this was a romance, this was also this amazing story about 2 people living their dreams, finding who they are, and reaching out for that life until they get it.
I am not usually one to read the M/M romance. Not that I have any issues with them, but because I often feel that the character development is left a little sparse and that the focus within the books is the “taboo” of the male relationship with another man. I am sure this is not true about all of them, but it does seem to be with the ones I have read.
But not this one.
Derek broke my heart. And, in a way so did maxim, but not as much as Derek. To fight against what you want, to be that afraid of living a life that was true to yourself, and to feel afraid that people won’t accept you. I can’t even imagine. And, I am not naïve, I know this is a reality…but to live in the mind of someone who is dealing with those fears was really intense. And, while it was intense, it was also really well written, so you could understand him, and you do get a little frustrated with how stubborn Derek is, but you also understand him. You get it, and why he feels the way he does, and it would be scary.
I loved that Maxim also gets it, and he understands where Derek is coming from. Maybe not the fear of being honest, but he understands the fear of being open as he grew up in Russia where you were not able to be open about your sexuality.
I thought the 2 sides of the same thing, the man struggling to be open and the man reveling in the ability that he could were interesting, as they really set up the external conflict in the story.
You finish this one, and you have no words. Other than to keep repeatingthat it was just beautiful. So emotional, and gripping, heartfelt and wonderful. But so balanced, so real, and with characters you relate to, that you are left just smiling at the end.
Melanie Harlow has been a favorite author of mine since I first met her work in Frenched, and books like this remind me why I am excited when she has new words. This was a pleasure not only because she wrote it (well co-wrote it) but also because it was different. It has the heart that you expect from Ms.Harlow, and the humorous moments (although not as many as in other books) and the depth of the characters and the story. But, the M/M makes it feel different. Like it is a story told by an author you love, but with fresh eyes.
As this is his first book, David Romanov is a new author to me. But I enjoyed the parts that seemed to be him, the Russian things, the LA details that were so right (traffic and tourists are definitely all you find in that area of the city) and I appreciated the obvious attention to detail of the characters, the settings and the storyline.
The authors worked well together, and the flow from one POV to the other was seamless while still being able to tell that it was a different person, which can be a challenge and in this it worked very well.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I definitely recommend this book
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.” “Okay.” 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?” “Sounds good.” 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.” Silence. 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
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About Melanie: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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About David: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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