As a little girl, I saw my father destroy the family he claimed to love. I watched my mother waste her life dreaming of a man who left her without a second glance.
As a woman, I don’t dream, I work. I don’t fall in love, I focus. I would never let anything as frivolous as love distract me.
Until I meet Simon. A gorgeous, brilliant young architect with dark eyes, a sweet smile, and a dirty, dirty mouth. He sets me on fire, and suddenly all I can do is dream…of his hands, his lips, his body. Of a heart good enough and a love strong enough to make me believe in happily ever after.
But Simon has secrets that are even deeper than mine. Will our pasts destroy everything we’ve worked for? Or will we find the courage to rise to the challenge and fight for the love we share?
“Rise” is a debut written by a woman I adore, so I *might* be a little biased, but I’m recommending you readers give this one a try. It’s a great, multicultural romance featuring two smart characters who fight hard to make the most of their present and future by refusing to let their traumatic pasts interfere. It took a bit of time to get into it (I didn’t feel like it flowed until around the 1/3 mark), but once it picked up, I was entrenched in this smooth and mature love story. I recommend this to readers who love adult romances with characters who deal with (relatively) real life dramas. This one features a heroine I recognize parts of myself in, and a hero so dashing I’d marry him in an instant. Read and enjoy!
Oh, and here’s a little taste of it:
Without missing a beat Simon unlocks his phone. “Where do you live? I can take you home.” When I don’t respond right away, he sighs and adds, “Or, I can call you cab.”
Without any hesitation this time, I rattle off my address. He slides his big thumb across the screen and all I can think is how they would feel swiping across my nipples. And then my nipples, as if they are wondering too, are throbbing and hard. And of course, tonight the barely there bra I am wearing underneath my clinging top will do nothing to hide this from him.
What the hell is wrong with me? This is the last thing I need.
He puts his phone back in his pocket. “They say it will be about ten minutes. Want some company while you wait?”
He says this with an easy smile I find disconcerting. I’m not sure I want to spend another minute with him. I also don’t want to wait on this corner by myself. Common sense wins the battle. “Thank you. Yes, that would be great.”
He pulls his phone out to send a text. While his head is bent, I finally get a chance to really take him in. He is big. He’s about 6’4 and while he is trim, his body looks powerful. His long legs are clad in jeans that make me wonder how strong his legs must be. His waist is narrow and his stomach is completely flat. His chest and shoulders are wide and his arms are long and stretch the seams of his sleeves as he reaches around to put his phone back in his back pocket.
“Addie.” He says my name almost like he’s asking a question. And I love the way he savors the “d” when she speaks. “You’re American?” He asks. A wicked grin spreads across his face as he takes in my blatant perusal of his body.
I blush, but decide to ignore his amusement and answer the question. “Well, I was born there. My father’s parents were Syrian, but he was born in the United States. My mother was born and raised in Ghana and moved to the states to go to law school.”
He doesn’t say anything, but bursts out laughing. I am bewildered.
When he sees the confusion in my face, he says, “My father is from Ghana and my mother is from England.”
“No way.” I exclaim and I laugh, too. What are the chances?
“Do your parents live in the States?” he asks, still laughing.
“No, well, my father is dead. My mother lives in Maryland.” The lie rolls off my tongue with practiced ease. My voice is flat and my good humor completely extinguished.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked so flippantly.”
“No, it’s okay. You couldn’t have known. It has been a long time. I don’t even miss him anymore.”
His gaze turns quizzical at that.
Then he looks at me with serious eyes and says, “Well, I never knew my father and my mother is in jail.”
And now I feel like a jackass because he has just told me his family’s story because he thinks I’ve told him mine.
“I’m sorry, Simon.” I reach out and put my hand on his arm.
As soon as I do that, the air around us sparks. I feel a tingle start in my fingertips and move up my arm, down my torso, and straight to the center of me.
He still doesn’t speak, but his gaze is no longer calm, it is turbulent and piercing. My face starts to heat. I remove my hand from his arm and reach up to tuck a nonexistent stray hair back into my ponytail. His eyes follow the movement of my hand. He shakes his head, as if to clear it, but takes a step closer to me, and starts to talk again.
“Well, I finished my Master’s in Manchester 5 years ago, and I work for a firm in Canary Wharf. And I live here, in Ladbroke Grove.” I smile up at him and start to respond when the air is punctuated by a loud trilling sound. He stops and reaches into his back pocket to snag his phone. His “hello” is almost musical and I have to stop myself from taking a step in his direction. He looks at me again, his eyes glittering and so fucking beautiful.
And that tingle from earlier becomes a thrum.
He steps even closer. “Your taxi’s around the corner.”
Disappointment, unexpected and acute, lances through me at the thought that our time together is over.
He reaches into the front pocket of his pants and pulls out a small pen and snatches the receipt off the takeaway bag. He puts his foot up on the edge of the short wall that runs along the outside of the station and uses his knee as a desk. He scribbles something on the paper and hands it to me.
I take it from him and try to avoid touching his hands—my body is like a live wire at this point. I fail. Our fingers touch so slightly it feels like a whisper, and I am only sure it happened because I feel that charge again.
I glance down at the paper and see he has written his name and number on it.
I look up at him unable to hide my smile. Before I can say anything, he says, “Call me if you need a tour guide… or a friend who won’t leave you stranded.” His hand reaches out and retraces the path my own hand traveled minutes before, up the side of my neck and into the nape of my neck. I stop breathing. His fingers barely graze the skin below my ear before they fall away.
I see the headlights of a car and know it’s my taxi. Before I realize what I am doing, I pull up on my toes and place a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you for stopping to help me.” As I start to descend, his hand snakes around my waist and he hugs me. He dips his head to my ear and rumbles, “Don’t thank me. Call me”
And my taxi pulls up, he opens the door for me to climb in and greet the driver. I look back up to say a final goodnight, but he is gone.
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