A Review by Wendy
4 First True Love Never Dies Stars
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I love authors who are not one note wonders. Yes, I can appreciate an author who has found their voice; they know what they do well and stick with it. There is No Shame in knowing your lane. But when an author has figured out their core strength and then incorporates it into a variation of styles and sub genres...then you have one who took a risk and won.
Lauren Blakely has my respect for doing just that. She came up with her way of writing strong, alpha men who had crushing hearts and back stories to make us care. Each one was unique in their way of handling their issues. All of them were magnificent in bed and business...but also needing the woman to be their guiding light. The women each were strong in their own right... not needing to have some knight in shining armor "save" them....But these women were not so closed off to not allow a crack in their defenses and let the feelings for these men grow.
The Sinful Nights Series was one of Blakely's suspense driven ideas. In these books, we had the signature sensuality, hard core loving with stunning dirty talk and sexy times coming with an intricate plot of murder and deception. Each book carried the suspense of this initial murder and how all of the family was dealing with it. There were discovered half brothers, betrayal and current issues of gang violence all happening in Sin City, Las Vegas. All of the books were complete but left us wondering about the other secondary characters and when they would get their book.
Sinful Love was the last of the series and gave us this amazing love story of Michael Stone and Annalise Delacroix, his "What if?" girl.
We all have had first loves... some worked out and you are the High School Sweethearts that we see on TV that have been married for 40 years and still counting...
Then there are those of us who fell hard for our first real love...and it didn't matter if it was college or in your twenties... you thought he or she was it....and for some reason...it turned out it wasn't.
It could have been any number of reasons things didn't go as planned...but in your heart of hearts...this person, this first love branded you... and try as you might to move on... a piece of you, the core...never allowed you feel that way about anyone else...and you are alone because of it.
That was Michael Sloan. Annalise was it for him. This French exchange student from High School captured Michael's heart and it never beat for anyone else. The best was it was mutual.... she loved him completely and when she had to go back to France....both of them vowed to make it all work....
Letters were written ... expensive calls were arranged. This was 18 years ago... and there was no Skype, internet or unlimited texting and talk... long distance was exactly that...and without the financial freedom to fly and see each other...it was a very hard task to continue to stay in touch.
Love may have been there between the two of them....but life and circumstances got in the way.
Annalise became the photojournalist she always dreamed of... she traveled all of the world covering all of the important stories of the times. Her instincts were keen, her hand steady and she captured moments which made the viewer see exactly what was happening and be in the frame feeling it all.
During all of these trips, months, years working her way up the recognition ladder, she kept her heart full of Michael. Yet, as time passed and she didn't hear from him...she began to feel as if their ultimate goal was slipping away...it was no fault of either of them... it was just life.
While Annalise's career was taking off...Michael was in college and focused on learning everything he could to block out the death and murder of his beloved father. The betrayal of his own mother cut to the core. The pain was something which clawed at him and the only thing he had to hold him together was a note from his dad ...the last one he had written. Dad was a note writer to remind himself to do things...and in this last reminder, he had written his understanding of Michael's love for this French girl living so far away...he had told himself to guide Michael, give him the tools to handle it and be able to have this true love. Michael carried this note, studied hard and was able to finally be stationed in Germany through the service and Army Intelligence.
After years of training, Michael finally wrote his letter to Annalise pouring out his soul...telling her after all of these years he still wished for them to be together...But he runs into Annalise before she received the letter and in the coffee shop while catching up, carefully trying to reconnect, he sees the engagement ring on her finger. She is gracious and caring; he wishes her well. The door has been shut for she had moved on.
Fast forward ten years and Michael has now received a letter from Annalise; she will be working in Vegas and wondered if he would like to meet for a coffee (even though the joke is he hates coffee) or drink or whatever. The idea of seeing her has him on pins and needles ...he is besides himself. She is equally nervous as it has been two years since her husband's death. He had suffered a long illness and she has only recently come out of her grief and started to live in the real world again.
These two meet and each has their own internal dialogue happening of why they are there... how to handle all of this etc. Michael realizes he never stopped loving her...all of his relationships were right...he was closed off and never fully committed...he had been take by a ghost...
Only she was real and right in front of him.
This is the love story we all secretly dream about. It is the one where past relationships get a second chance and you promise yourself you will do it right.
Lauren Blakley did it right. She gave us full passion, concern and fragile male egos...and sexual encounters which took place EVERYWHERE... no vehicle, bathroom, restaurant, elevator, closet or wall was off limits. This was delicious and you wished it was you having all of this action... but even more importantly... it was this intensity, this coming together emotionally as well as physically. They were now grown people; free to do whatever and it was a joy to see how much they were connecting on all levels.
There was also the conclusion of the murder investigation from long ago. It involved all of the brothers, past characters and was sewn up with a couple of twists to make it worthwhile.
This was the Suspenseful Lauren Blakely and it was a terrific conclusion to the series.
A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher for an honest review.
About Lauren Blakely
Since self-publishing her debut romance novel CAUGHT UP IN US three years ago, Lauren Blakely has sold more than 1 million books. She is known for her sexy contemporary romance style that's full of heat, heart and humor. A devout fan of cake and canines, Lauren has plotted entire novels while walking her four-legged friends. She lives in California with her family. With nine New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller List more than three dozen times. Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire. She recently released BIG ROCK, a sexy standalone romantic comedy that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. In the late spring, she'll release MISTER O, another standalone romantic comedy.