Strong Enough, an all-new sexy standalone from USA Today Bestselling author Melanie Harlow and David Romanov is LIVE!
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.
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
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For Derek Wolfe and Maxim Matveev, those two words have multiple meanings, some contrary to one another and others that demonstrate the effort it takes to get through difficult ordeals in order to reap deserved rewards.
At the beginning of the story, for Derek, being strong enough means to keep his dark sexual urges repressed, fighting them and ultimately controlling them so that no one truly knows just how abnormal he is because Derek’s upbringing has programmed him to believe that anything that is not socially acceptable is disgusting…wrong…even sinful.
These two men seem as opposite as they can be, especially because Derek uses all of his strength to suppress who he really is, fighting to be the man his parents and society wants him to be, not the one he truly is down to his core. And, even with the attraction that Derek feels for Maxim, Derek still torments himself with a code of conduct and traditional values that will lead him to become the perfect family man – one with a wife and kids, not a man who is 12 years younger than him and represents everything he’s worked his entire life to ignore and adamantly deny.
Maxim illustrates his strength and courage when he leaves his home in Russia for a life in the States, not knowing if he can make it here but driven to try because what he wants out of life he cannot acquire in his homeland. Maxim’s optimism and fortitude guide his life and his choices and even though everything seems to go wrong for Maxim as soon as he steps off the plane from Russia, perhaps it’s fate that guides his journey and allows him to help a man understand that despite his upbringing love doesn’t have to be a perfect, quintessential image – it just has to be perfect for the two people who feel it.
The fact that this story is semi-autobiographical adds intrigue and depth to the story line. Both men are fully characterized, which means that readers can truly understand what their words and actions illustrate about them and why they’ve grown to be the men that they currently are.
Derek is portrayed in such a way that readers can’t help but feel heartbroken for him; he’s lived his entire life programmed to believe that there’s only one way for him to live his life, so it makes sense that he fights his true nature and has a difficult time dealing with his feelings for Maxim. It’s clearly not Derek’s fault and while it was a bit frustrating to hear his misguided thoughts, the fact that, that is what he felt and must contend with is devastating not only for him but for those individuals like him who can’t be who they’re meant to be from the very beginning.
Maxim is a breath of fresh air in Derek’s otherwise controlled and tortured world and Maxim allows Derek to understand that there’s not simply one path or one way to live, and even though it’s difficult for Derek to face his reality, he’s strong enough to do so with Maxim by his side.
Strength is defined in varying ways throughout the story, and when Maxim becomes a part of Derek’s life, Derek ultimately needs to decide if he’s strong enough to go against everything he’s been told to believe and experience the kind of love that he could only dream of or if he cares too much about what other people will think and ruins any chance he may have to live the life that he deserves.
“You were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.”
As long as Derek and Maxim can remember this idea throughout the highs and lows they’ll face in the lives they chosen to live, then they’ll always be strong enough to get exactly what they want and need!
4.5 Poison Apples
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.
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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