BLOG TOUR: REVIEW AND EXCERPT: After We Fall by Melanie Harlow

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After We Fall by Melanie Harlow
Publication Date: November 28th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Jack Valentini isn’t my type.

Sexy, brooding cowboys are fine in the movies, but in real life, I prefer a suit and tie. Proper manners. A close shave.

Jack might be gorgeous, but he’s also scruffy, rugged, and rude. He wants nothing to do with a “rich city girl” like me, and he isn’t afraid to say so.

But I’ve got a PR job to do for his family’s farm, so he’s stuck with me for ten days, and I’m stuck with him. His glares. His moods. His tight jeans. His muscles.

His huge, hard muscles.

Pretty soon there’s a whole different kind of tension between us, the kind that has me misbehaving in barns, trees, and pickup trucks. I’ve never done anything so out of character—but it feels too good to stop.

And the more I learn about the grieving ex-Army sergeant, the better I understand him. Losing his wife three years ago left him broken and bitter and blaming himself. He doesn’t think he deserves a second chance at happiness.

But he’s wrong.

I don’t need to be his first love. If only he’d let me be his last.

“Second chances are not given to make things right, but are given to prove that we could be even better after we fall.” —Unknown

Review

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such a mixture of emotions as I did while reading After We Fall. There were so many highs and lows in Margot and Jack’s story that it had me laughing, crying, screaming, shaking, and hoping at various and multiple moments in the amount of time it took me to finish the book.

Melanie Harlow allows and, at times, forces her readers to feel EVERYTHING that Margot and Jack go through as they experience their individual awakenings as well as traverse through their mixed emotions for each other and their lack of a future due to Jack’s desire to wear his past as an albatross around his neck because he refuses to let go and move forward.

Jack Valentini lost the love of his life three years ago, and since that day, he’s simply existed, throwing himself into his work on his family’s farm, foregoing any personal connections except for his brothers, sister-in-law, and nephew. There’s no room in his life and especially his heart for another woman because Steph consumes it and he can’t let her go…he can’t look past his pain, his guilt, and his grief, which makes him quite broody and ill-mannered when a city girl like Margo Lewiston invades his farm and his life, looking to make changes in how they do things on the farm and igniting intense emotions in Jack – ones he does his best to ignore and treat more as a burden than anything else when they grab hold of him and force him to act.

Margot Lewiston has always prided herself on her ability to control her emotions and remain calm and collected despite the circumstances, but for some reason, Jack pushes her buttons more so than anyone else, and she refuses to be the same ole Margot with him. Every time Jack pushes, she pushes back and hits Jack with truths he doesn’t want to hear and regardless of the fact that Jack refuses to give Margot what she wants, she can’t help but take what Jack gives her because she likes who she is with him, allowing herself to let go and not worry about how other people see her.

There are many types of falls that people experience in a lifetime, and each one serves as a defining moment in their life, but how they choose to respond once that fall occurs is completely in their hands, and while sometimes it seems easier to not risk anything…to continue to stay down, learning from some falls and enjoying others is the only way that a life should be lived because any other reaction is not living – it’s simply existing.

If there’s one idea to take away from After We Fall, it’s that regardless of one’s refusal or fear to get back up, it has to happen…for the sake of the person himself and for the sake of those people who love and support that person unconditionally, even when they don’t know how to help. Melanie Harlow does an amazing job of illustrating Margot’s awakening and allowing readers to experience her transformation every step of the way – enduring the lows and relishing in the highs, and the way Harlow wrote Jack and provides us with his internal struggles and commentary allows us to understand his actions and reactions and also prevents us from clobbering Jack when he refuses to move forward with Margot, even when the connection between them could help him to heal and live.

After We Fall is an emotional journey for the main characters as well as readers, and it’s definitely one that should be experienced and learned from because falling doesn’t have to mean there’s nothing left to live for, it can simply mean that a new way of looking at life needs to be determined and carried out, even if that comes with a new set of hurdles to get through and learn from because that simply means you’re living.

4.5 Poison Apples

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Excerpt

“Wow,” she said, shutting the screen door behind her. “That was close. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.” I crossed my arms, wishing I’d thought to grab a shirt. “Want to tell me what you were doing out there?”

Her cheeks colored. “Um, I was taking a run.”

“Up a tree?”

She laughed nervously. “No. Well, I didn’t start out in a tree. That happened later.”

I cocked my head, unable to resist giving her a hard time. Not so sure of yourself now, are you, Barbie? “Oh yeah?”

“Yes. See, I left the cottage I’m renting without using the bathroom by mistake,” she began, twisting her fingers together, “and I was planning on running a loop around the farm, but it’s bigger than I thought.”

“Ah. So you were looking for a bathroom in the woods?”

“Well, yes.” She swallowed. “Sort of. But then I heard a splash and saw you…” Her cheeks were practically purple now.

I played dumb. “Saw me what?”

“Saw you naked, OK?” she blurted, throwing her hands up. “I admit it—I saw you naked.”

I had no hangups about nudity, but I was damn serious about my privacy, and about people sneaking up on me. But her embarrassment was funny. The two times I’d seen her before, she’d been so polished and poised. It felt good to put her in her place a little. “So you climbed a tree for a better view, is that it?”

Bowing her head, she dragged the toe of one shoe across the wood planks of the porch floor. “Something like that.” Then she looked up at me. Took a breath. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I was—I mean, I got—I couldn’t—” She sighed, briefly closing her eyes. “I have no excuse. Will you accept my apology?”

She was prettier without makeup, I decided. And the way she wore her hair off her face emphasized the wideness of her eyes, the angle of her cheekbones, the arch of her brows. Her lips didn’t need all that glossy crap, either. They were a perfect rosy pink, and I wondered if they’d feel as soft as they looked.

Fuck. I hadn’t kissed anyone in three years.

Clearing my throat, I took a step back. “Yeah. It’s fine.” Now get out of here.

She didn’t move. “So you’re not going to fire me?”

“I never hired you.”

“I know. But I really want this job. I think I can help, Jack. I know I can.”

“Suit yourself. I want nothing to do with it.” My name on her lips was trouble. Needing some distance from her, I started walking toward the dock to get my shoes and socks, but she followed me. God, she was a pest. It reminded me of the way Steph used to tag along after the boys when we were kids, wanting to get in our games.

“Are you going to be like this the entire time I’m here?” she asked.

“Like what?”

“Moody and uncooperative?”

“Probably.”

“Why? Do you hate me that much?”

“I don’t hate anybody. I just don’t see why we should pay some city girl who’s never set foot on a farm to advise us.” We reached the dock, and I leaned down to get my stuff.

“I’m not even asking to be paid, so piss off!” she shouted, her voice carrying on the water.

I straightened. “Oh, you’re working for free?”

“Yes!”

“Then you’re an idiot. Or so rich you don’t need the money.”

“I’m not an idiot,” she said through clenched teeth.

“So you’re rich, then.” I don’t know why I was being such an asshole. But for some reason, I did not want to let her see another side of me, or see another side to her. “I should have guessed.”

She crossed her arms. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you look like you’ve led a charmed life. Like you’ve had everything you’ve ever wanted handed to you. Like you’ve never gotten your hands dirty.”

“So get them dirty.”

I almost fell off the dock. “What?”

“Get them dirty. Teach me about working this farm. I want to learn.”

Was she serious? The last thing I needed was to drag her ass around all day, explaining things. Or stare at her ass all day, imagining things. But one look at her defiant face and I shook my head. “Why do I feel like if I say no, you’ll just keep bothering me?”

She smiled and clasped her hands behind her back, rocking forward on her toes. “Because I will. I don’t like being told no.”

“Of course you don’t.” Jesus, she was trouble. A bad apple—smooth and shiny on the outside, spoiled rotten on the inside. But for no good reason, I found myself giving in. “Fine. Go change your clothes.”

Add to Goodreads

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Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2fCkHxU 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gN23sa
iBooks: http://apple.co/2g8oepo
Nook: http://bit.ly/2gvsWRW

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.

Connect with Melanie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieHarlow/?fref=ts
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NPkYKs
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1TkpDqF
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MelanieHarlow2
Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com
Newsletter: http://www.melanieharlow.com/contact/

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