IF YOU WERE MINE
an all-new sexy and emotional standalone from USA Today Bestselling author
is now available!
If You Were Mine
by Melanie Harlow
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A guy in a black leather jacket set a coffee cup down on the table and sat opposite me.
I looked over at him, feeling slightly awkward since I’d have to tell him he couldn’t sit there. He was handsome, with warm brown eyes and short dark hair, but he wasn’t Fred. “I’m sorry, I’m waiting for someone,” I said. “But I can move.”
To my surprise, he smiled confidently. “Claire, right? I’m Fred.”
I screwed up my face. “You can’t be. Fred has blond hair and blue eyes. I saw his picture.”
He laughed, almost condescendingly. “I don’t use my real picture, Claire. People are crazy.”
What? This made no sense. “I don’t understand. How can you advertise yourself with someone else’s photo? Don’t women get mad when you show up?”
He shrugged, his grin turning a little cocky. “Haven’t had any complaints so far.”
Actually, he was more attractive than the photo he’d used online—more rugged and masculine, with his scruffy jaw, big shoulders, and brawny chest. Meeting the real Fred was kind of like ordering the chicken piccata and being brought the Porterhouse, which hadn’t even been on the menu.
But that wasn’t the point.
(And I’d described someone completely different to Elyse.)
“So, what, you use a fake photo to lure potential clients and then you set up the coffee meeting to check them out first?” I asked indignantly.
“Wouldn’t you?” He shrugged out of his jacket. “It’s a scary world out there.”
I crossed my arms, sitting up tall. “No! That’s a scam. I don’t like scammers.”
“No, it isn’t. I don’t take any money from them. I don’t even talk to them, I just leave.”
Frowning, I said, “That doesn’t seem right to me. These people are willing to pay you to hang out with them and probably feel bad enough about themselves already, and you just walk out without even giving them a chance?”
He shrugged. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve only walked off a job once, and that was because I thought I recognized the woman. I prefer to keep my personal and professional identities separate. That’s fair, isn’t it?”
Professional identity? He was a rent-a-date! I shook my head in disbelief. “Is your name even Fred?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes,” I snapped. “How am I supposed to know what to call you?”
He grinned as he leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “Call me anything you want. You’re the boss.”
Was he flirting with me or making fun of me? I cleared my throat and pressed my knees tighter together. “I’d like to call you by your actual name, please. Bad enough I have to pay someone to play my fake boyfriend. I’d like something to be real, at least.”
He held his eyes steady on mine for a moment. I felt like he was sizing me up, trying to decide if he could trust me, so I stared right back without blinking. If anyone at this table was trustworthy, it was me.
“Theo,” he said quietly, his eyes dropping to my lips for the merest fraction of a second. “My name is Theo.”
There. Was that so hard? I smiled at him before picking up my latte.“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Theo.”
“What, you’re just going to believe me? You’re much too trusting, Claire. I bet people take advantage of you.”
I set the cup back down on the saucer with an angry clank. “Is your name Theo or not?”
“Shhh, it is, it is,” he said, laughing. Then he glanced over his shoulder like he was in the fucking CIA. “But I don’t give that out to just anyone. You should feel special.”
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.
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4.5 Snow Angel Stars
IF YOU WERE MINE
Claire is tired of sitting at the singles table at weddings. So what’s a girl to do when she is invited to another wedding? She lies through her teeth and tells her friend that she has a boyfriend who will be her plus one. In her despair a tipsy Claire browses the internet for a date to hire. She books a guy and expects more Ryan Reynolds than Keanu Reeves but dark and tall is what she gets. This guy, Theo, is as cocky as they come and has his nose in her business.
So much about her was youthful, even childlike— her exuberance, her trusting nature, her excitement over small things— but she was all woman, too.
Theo reads people well. The moment Claire walks into the bar where they arranged their first meeting he is captivated. He is not a relationship kind of guy yet he can’t forget the sassy, kind and sweet Claire who is everything he wants but can’t have. He keeps his private life under wraps but Claire sneaks past his walls and after a passionate night that is supposed to be a one-time-only thing he keeps coming back for more.
Jesus. That escalated quickly. I hadn’t meant for this to happen. I hadn’t meant to tell her the truth, hadn’t meant to kiss her, hadn’t meant to take her home and fuck her with my tongue next to the Christmas tree.
Claire is an immensely endearing and compassionate heroine who wants nothing more than love in her life. She isn’t flashy though, she thinks she is plain and lacks a bit self confidence. Theo is the person who bolsters her. She is drawn to his devil may care attitude and senses the pain in Theo. She has a strong will and knows what she wants but she doesn’t take risks. Claire plays by Theo’s rules but that doesn’t mean she is a doormat. Quite the opposite. There is a feisty side to her that has the hero’s ears ringing.
Theo comes with a truck load of emotional baggage. While he sounds younger than he is when we meet him, more flippant and without a care in the world the more we get to spend time with these two we learn of all the struggles and his painful childhood. Theo deeply regrets that he can’t be what Claire wants but is selfish enough to take what she offers. Theo’s hardest decision will be whether he keeps running or takes a leap, opens up and lets Claire in.
She was exactly the salve I’d hoped she would be— the moment I crushed my lips to hers, I felt the conflict in my body resolve. The anger dissipate. The sadness lift. All of it was swept aside, replaced only by the desire to get closer to her.
I loved Theo. And Claire. And OMG did I say that I LOVED THEO? He is the ultimate broken soul and damn he made me feel. I was mad at him, I swooned and I wanted to hug him and comfort him. He is HOT. No scratch that, he is SCORCHING. Jesus, the guy has a mouth on him. Their chemistry is explosive. I broke a little bit of a sweat in the sexually charges chapters.
My cock stirred between us. “Uh, are we still observing the no-touching rule tonight?” I asked as she kissed her way up my chest. “Asking for a friend.”
“I bet you’re a fun uncle.” “I am pretty awesome at tea parties.”
If there is anything that bothered me it would be that Claire gave in too quickly in the end. Theo had hurt her badly so I expected some grovelling and a little bit more resistance from our girl.
I adored this story. Melanie Harlow writes amazing characters who are likable and real. She makes you feel and laugh. This story definitely makes for an engaging read and I gobbled it with gusto. If you love a broken hero and an endearing heroine in an epic love story, look no further. If You Were Mine ticks off all those boxes and will have you swoon at the end.