A gorgeous former Marine with a tortured soul.
The beautiful, compassionate therapist living next door.
A meddlesome grandma determined to get them together.
I was expecting a proposal on my birthday, and I got dumped instead.
How could I have been so clueless?
Grams knew exactly how to distract me.
The “cute boy next door” who’s been helping her with yard work clearly needs a little therapy. Who better to call than her newly single therapist granddaughter?
She even fakes dementia to get me to visit, and now that I’m here she’s doing everything in her power to throw us together.
Not that I’m complaining. Ryan is the sexiest man I’ve ever met--I mean the full package, from the chiseled jaw to the massive shoulders to the rippling abs. (And yes, his package is full, and he knows exactly how to deliver it.) He makes me want to get out of my head and follow my heart. He makes me want to take chances I never thought I’d take.
He also makes me want to take my clothes off. A lot.
But he’s moody and challenging--one minute he’s an open book, and the next he’s completely closed off. He holds me like he’ll never let go, but insists he wants to be alone.
Some wounds are so deep, only love can heal them.
How can I convince him to let me try?
I love Melanie Harlow, so when this one appeared on my Kindle, I started it immediately.
There were parts of this one that I absolutely loved. Ryan and Stella were interesting, and I liked both of them. I sympathized with him. I liked the way Stella and Ryan interacted, and I loved the way Ryan was written, the way he was both aloof and really wanting someone to reach out to him and at the same time wanting to be left alone.
Unfortunately, this story, while well written and full of characters I enjoyed, it felt like I was reading something I had read before. It didn't have the depth and the heart that I usually find in Melanie Harlow's books, and I am not sure what it was about this one that made it feel like it missing something...but I felt that there was more story here than was told. Part of it, I think, was that it felt like there was a lot of importance placed on the other characters in the story, and it pulled the focus from Stella and Ryan.
I am not saying I didn't enjoy this title. I did. I was just hoping for a little more than I got from this one. I do recommend it overall.
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Startled, I turned around to find Stella standing a few feet away on the grass, wearing a T-shirt and pajama pants, arms crossed over her chest. Her feet were bare, and her hair was loose around her shoulders and a little messy, like she’d already been asleep. Thinking about her in bed did things to my insides. “Hey. Did I wake you?”
“I was awake. My windows are open, and I heard something and thought I saw you through the window. What are you doing?”
“Uh, building you a swing. But it was supposed to be a surprise.” Now that she’d caught me at it, I was kind of embarrassed. What if she thought this was stupid?
“You built me a swing?” She came a little closer, and I realized she might not be able to see it in the dark. The moon was only a sliver tonight.
“Yeah.” I grabbed one of the ropes. “Right here.”
She stared at it. “Why?”
“I’m not entirely sure.”
Her eyes met mine, and my heart pumped harder.
“Want to try it?” I asked.
“Like right now?”
I moved behind it and held both ropes steady. “Come sit.”
She hesitated, and I thought maybe she was going to tell me to quit being weird and go home before she called the cops, but after a few silent seconds, she came toward me. Turned around. Lowered herself to the seat and closed her fingers around the ropes.
“Well?” I asked. “How does it feel? Like you’re a kid again?”
“This was very kind of you, but not necessary.” Her tone was stiffer than her posture.
She didn’t answer.
“You’re sorry about what we did?”
“I think I’m more sorry about what we didn’t do.”
Her head turned sharply, and she looked at me over one shoulder. “You sure know how to confuse a girl.”
“One of my many talents.”
She looked straight ahead again. “Tell me about some other ones. And give me a push.”
I smiled, even though she couldn’t see it, and gave her a little nudge. “I’m fast.”
“Yeah.” I gave her a little harder push.
“Track team in high school?”
“Tried. Didn’t take.”
“They expected me to show up for practice.”
“Ah.” She straightened her legs and leaned back in the swing, her hair dangling behind her. “Tell me another one.”
I gave her another push. “I’m good with my hands.”
Her laugh floated back to me. “I have observed this about you already. Give me another one.”
I pushed her again, just so I could feel her hair brush against my hands. “I’m not afraid of anything.”
“Nothing I can think of.”
“Are you analyzing me now?”
“Kind of. I mean, you can’t say something like that to a therapist and expect her not to reflect on it a little bit, right?”
“Do you think I’m a liar or a fool?”
“Neither,” she answered. “I think you mean what you say. I think you only lie when you have to, and even then, you hate it. And if I dug a little deeper—which I won’t, because my sisters have told me it’s annoying and intrusive—I think I might discover that it’s because above all, you value your honor. Your word.”
For a moment, I was too stunned to think or move or speak. Then I said, “I take it back.”
“Take what back?”
“What I said. That I’m not afraid of anything.”
“Oh? And what are you afraid of?”
She swung back toward me and I caught her around the waist. Put my lips to her ear. “Your ability to read my mind.”
Beneath my arms I could feel her chest expand and contract faster. “I’m sorry, Ryan. I know I shouldn’t say those—”
“Come home with me,” I said, my voice raw with something like thirst. I pressed my lips to her throat and breathed in her scent. I let one hand move toward her breast. I waited for an elbow to the ribcage, a cry for help, a slap across the face. Because if she could read my mind right now, she’d know exactly what I wanted to do to her—and it was a long, detailed list.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes.”
About Melanie Harlow
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 AFTER WE FALL series, 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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