Published by Forever on October 17th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
From the New York Times bestselling author of Archer's Voice, Mia Sheridan delivers a heartwrenching new stand-alone contemporary romance.
A broken woman . . .
Crystal learned long ago that love brings only pain. Feeling nothing at all is far better than being hurt again. She guards her wounded heart behind a hard exterior and carries within her a deep mistrust of men, who, in her experience, have only ever used and taken.
A man in need of help . . .
Then Gabriel Dalton walks into her life. Despite the terrible darkness of his past, there's an undeniable goodness in him. And even though she knows the cost, Crystal finds herself drawn to Gabriel. His quiet strength is wearing down her defenses and his gentle patience is causing her to question everything she thought she knew.
Only love can mend a shattered heart . . .
Crystal and Gabriel never imagined that the world, which had stolen everything from them, would bring them a deep love like this. Except fate will only take them so far, and now the choice is theirs: Harden their hearts once again or find the courage to shed their painful pasts.
I swallowed heavily, my mouth going dry as I took in the masculine beauty of his practically naked body. He was…divine. That was the word that immediately came to mind. Divine. Angelic. Godly.
My gaze soaked in his strong, broad shoulders, the tight, lean muscles of his chest, the taut ripples of his stomach. As if my eyes were drawn to him like a magnet, they moved down his chest to his muscled thighs, his well-formed calves and then back up to his boxers, where the outline of his male anatomy was just barely visible against the thin material.
My core clenched, wetness pooling between my thighs. I blinked, completely unaccustomed to this kind of reaction when it came to a man’s body. I wanted to simultaneously run away and step toward him, to reach out and trail a finger down his chest the way I’d just run a finger over the tiny stone bird.
“My father made that.”
“W-what?” God, my voice sounded too breathy, too stunned.
He crossed his arms over his chest, obviously self-conscious about his state of undress. He gave a quick nod downward. “Sorry, I didn’t know you’d be up.”
Again, my eyes moved to his bare chest. There was a sparse trail of hair under his belly button leading into the waistband of his boxers. My eyes leapt back up to his, and I practically gulped, sure he had heard it when his eyebrows twitched slightly.
I turned my head, my heart beating so loudly in my own ears I was sure he could hear that, too, even from where he stood. “It’s only fair, I suppose,” I murmured.
“Now we’ve both seen each other half-naked.”
Gabriel tilted his head, assessing me in some mysterious way. He suddenly turned and walked back toward his room. I stood rooted to the spot, confused, when he returned just as quickly as he’d left, pulling a T-shirt over his head. He walked toward me, coming to stand directly in front of where I stood. His expression was slightly shy, slightly teasing. “I hope…that if we see each other naked again, it won’t be a job, or an accident. It will be because we both want it, and because it means something.”
Visions swirled through my mind, unbidden: tangled limbs and twisted sheets. Heat filled my veins, blood pumping between my legs. It was too much. It was…out of my control and it scared me. I didn’t want to think of Gabriel that way, couldn’t think of Gabriel that way. In truth, had never thought of any man that way. “Mean something?” My voice was a mere whisper.
He nodded, his expression going serious, his eyes filled with sudden gravity. His hand slowly moved up to my hair, and he brushed a piece back from my face. His hand lingered, his knuckle brushing gently down my cheekbone. My breath hitched at the subtle touch. His full lips parted slightly, those angel eyes moving over my features as if he was memorizing me, memorizing the moment. I was spellbound, caught once again in his gaze. No one had ever looked at me the way Gabriel was right then, not in all my life.
“Yes.” It was all he said, leaving me to try to comprehend his meaning. But of course getting naked always meant something. A bribe, a paycheck, a coercion, a means to an end…only I knew very well Gabriel didn’t mean any of those things, and it was impossible to convince myself he could. I already knew better. And I didn’t want to think about what getting naked would mean to Gabriel because the very idea filled me with terror and an aching, needy want. But mostly terror.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
When she was seven years old and Mrs. Hollyfield died, Crystal’s world fell apart, and soon thereafter, she vowed that she would learn how not to feel anything ever again. Gabriel’s childhood was ripped from him at the age of nine, and since then he abhors being touched. Upon setting eyes on Crystal, Gabriel recognises a kindred spirit, a soul in distress. Could she be the one to touch him?
I wish I had known more about what the characters’ issues were before going in, because this is not a type of story I enjoy. Because of this, I feel I must reveal some of the characters’ backgrounds in order to justify my review. Crystal was abandoned and abused, and works as an exotic dancer; she hates it, she has no self-esteem, and she hates her life. Gabriel was abducted and kept a prisoner for six years. Maybe it’s because I had never read any of Mia Sheridan’s books that I did not know what to expect, and her fans might possibly crucify me, but it is a matter of preference, and MOST OF ALL YOU was just too much heavy drama for me. It is not a judgement on the story itself nor the author, but a matter of taste. Some readers seek this type of romance, and I believe that having given more information about the characters’ circumstances would have been helpful to make a discerning choice according to a readers’ predilections. I also wondered why Gabriel, who had undertaken some counselling in the past, would revert to a strip club rather than seek further professional help, but then again, if he had, we would not have MOST OF ALL YOU, would we?
I found refreshing that Gabriel had an unusual profession: he’s a stone carver, which allowed Ms. Sheridan room for some interesting lyrical allegories, as well as some fascinating insight on this particular form of art and its cathartic influence on the characters. While the pace was steady, I felt that some events were a tad too predictable and convenient in order to move the plot along. Ms. Sheridan demonstrates her superb skills at adapting her writing to the characters’ moods, the settings; shifting from light to dark as needed.
MOST OF ALL YOU will appeal to readers who prefer their romance on the heavy side, where beating the odds and finding the light at the end of the tunnel is a constant struggle that only hope, self-respect, and love will conquer.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.