After We Fall by Melanie Harlow
Publication Date: November 28th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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
A Review by Wendy
4.5 It's OK to Love Again Stars
* * * *1/2
* * * *1/2
How do I start this review...Do I sing the praises of Melanie Harlow... Do I let you know how this book has so many fantastic moments... Funny, Sexy and down right laugh out loud... Or do I start by letting you know how well Harlow approached the pain our returning Vets face every day...
For me, this spotlight on a serious subject more and more common was the heart and soul of this piece.
Oh, there were other issues to tackle... like when a woman has been conditioned to believe her life is supposed to be a certain way from birth...And it can happen from either extreme...You could have a family deep into the drug environment, skating on the edges of society... with all the negative nonsense drilled into a young girl's head...telling her she was nothing and would never amount to anything...
Or you could have what we had here in this story... a Well to Do Political family... with a young woman who has been conditioned, taught and guided to never Make a Scene, Never think about Real Passion or Love, Always Behave and Be Polite.
That was the life path Margot was on. Her mother was also a Margaret but called Muffy and this woman ruled the way things were to happen in the house with a hard line...just like how she was raised and how generations before her. This was the country club set. These were the donors to charities because actually getting their hands dirty by doing was not done.
For years, Margot was the conservative thinker like her family... she did do more, though... she would participate with the charities, not just write checks and when she discovered her long time ex playing hide the salami with another...she cut him out of her life. It was hard but she did it.
She also made other changes... She took the leap and went into business with her dear friend Jamie. They created Shine PR and it started to really take off. Margot had a knack with photography and social media branding. She could take a company and grow its business by leaps and bounds with the right website, placements and media chatter. She loved doing it and it was all hers.
It is through Jamie's meeting of a couple during a visit at the local farmer's market which has Margot planning a trek out of the city. It is perfect timing too...because Margot did something which is causing the need for her to leave town....
What you may ask...
Well, let's just say...Asshat Ex did more than Drunk Dial Margot after their being over for more than a year...And then let's just mention at a family political function, said Asshat proved how much of an Asshat he was in front of everyone...And then to make matters worse... he had no shame in his Asshat game....
Well, that was the straw which broke all the pent up anger and self doubt regarding Asshat...and Margot did the unthinkable...
Yes, She Created a Scene!
So the only answer was to lay low until another of the family's social set cause a scene taking Margot out of the gossip cycle. By going to this farm and discussing what the family could do to improve their visibility and place in the growing sustainable, organic food market it got her awy from wagging tongues. This Farm needed major help... and Margot and Jamie were the answer. Jamie arranged the interview and visit of the farm. Margot leased a cottage up in the area for a few weeks to ride out her being "personae non gratae" at home.
Margot did her research; checked out the website...looked at the family picture posted and saw there were 3 brothers and a wife...One of the brothers was a looker...
That looker was Jack... And in person he was even better than anything a romance model could pretend...His body had been honed from being in the Army, then also farming...everything about him was authentic.
Even the pain and distance in his eyes. For Jack carried burdens...those from the time in service...and most recently, the loss of his wife. Although it had been 3 years since her accident, Jack was still in the limbo cycle of pain and regret...This couple was everything; young love, her healing love for him and wish fulfillment...they were this couple that everyone knew. People could see how perfectly they were joined...and it was hard for those who cared for the both of them to accept the loss.
The only salvation for Jack was the family farm. The brothers lost their dad too soon...and Jack had already started with his wife to work the land in the way of organic farming. It is harder, more costly and taxing .... but that was his wife's dream and Jack wanted to make it happen for her...even if she was no longer here with him.
The brothers joined Jack with the farm even though they had other dreams...They believed in what he was doing and saw his vision take hold. But it was hard...and the way they farmed made beautiful food... needing more customers then just the farmers markets in the area. That was why they decided to hear what Margot had to say... Jack was not on board...Jack did not want anything to change...AT ALL.
We are there when this meeting takes place at the farmhouse. The brothers and wife are friendly to Margot and are presenting a meal all made from what has been grown on the farm... mouth watering. Everything is pleasant and positive... until Jack arrives...
Rain cloud...anyone...Negative Ozone Layer...
Yup Jack, as handsome and brooding as he was... was not very friendly at all. Margot got the tingles...which was weird... and Jack couldn't understand why his manly parts woke up with the sight of this Rich Barbie doll with hypnotic pearls around her throat...
Well, Margot was not about to let a little push back stop her...She did her homework on all of the information she learned from the meeting and became obsessed with all sorts of Food Movements. She even decided to work with these up and coming groups to educate others about the importance of the food we eat everyday. Oh, the things she could do for this family and farm...If they would let her.
She called Jamie to let off a little steam about the meeting and Jack...Jamie was so happy to hear her friend stepping out of her bubble... and encouraged her to see where this was going to take her...
Now I am not going to go into much more detail about the coupling part because People....The way these two combust every time they are together is something to experience... it is Marlow perfect. All of it works. Promise.
She also created a woman in Margot who had the heart of an angel... she was human but also so very aware of what Jack needed without even thinking about it ... it came naturally. She also learned what she needed and stuck to her understanding of what she wanted... it was so important that she held strong.
What I do want to address, though, is Jack. This is a man who I think represents so many of our young people back from war. We send these young men and women out into an unknown...Yes, they are trained well and have the backing of our military. But no matter how well one can be trained and prepared, the acts necessary in war...are not easily erased. The residual thoughts, emotions and feelings of what happened continue long after these brave warriors have returned home. There are those who have deep cracks in their souls... needing our understanding, patience and guidance to get the help they need. It is never a matter of not being strong enough to fight these demons...All are strong and have fought...It is more a matter of understanding and accepting that asking and using the help offered is an action of strength and courage...and allowed.
Jack battles these types of feelings and his wife had helped him. He was on the path to getting the necessary guidance through the professionals available. Unfortunately, when he lost his wife... Jack fell prey to a demon he never shared with anyone...not even his wife. It is this part of the story which I admire the most and commend Ms. Harlow in addressing.
Melanie Harlow created a story which tackled many different issues in life...Learning who you are and taking risks... being open to ask for help when you need it. ...And Allowing yourself to love again.
This is a stand alone.
However if you have read Man Candy, then you met Jamie and Quinn...who are referenced in this book. You do not need to know them... however, they are Harlow creations... which means their story is fantastic as well.
With Harlow's active imagination, I cannot wait to see were she takes me next...
A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher for an honest review.
“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.
“Moody and uncooperative?”
“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?”
“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.”
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2fCkHxU
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gN23sa
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.