There are not many authors I always trust my heart with unconditionally and irrevocably, but Bella Andre’s stories not only never disappoint, they seem to leave me in a blissful state of day-dreaminess for days to come. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The Sullivans series is my personal brand of poison when it comes to romances that are ‘good for the heart’, and there is nothing like the ‘Bella magic’ when your heart is in need of some tender loving care.
“Do you think one teeny-tiny little kiss would be that big a deal?
“With you, I’m certain that no kiss could ever be teeny. Or tiny. Or little.”
Ian Sullivan is a self-made millionaire, a man who has always put his professional interests before his personal ones, and whose dedication to his business empire is only matched by his devotion to his family. Tatiana Landon is a movie star, a young woman whose kind and down-to-earth personality stands in stark contrast to her worldwide fame, as she has managed to preserve her innocence and naiveté despite the attention she receives wherever she goes. But while Tatiana grew up believing in fairy tales and ended up in a business where she is creating fairy tales for a living, Ian’s failed marriage acts as a daily reminder that he would never be able to give a woman the fairy tale she deserves.
“Marriage was the only thing that Ian had ever failed at, so badly that he’d come out of it one hundred percent certain that a wife would never—and should never—be in his future again.”
They meet at a beautiful vineyard, in the midst of a wedding, surrounded by family and friends. But they only have eyes for one another. Their attraction is immediate, their connection palpable, but their resolve to do something about it is very different. So they part ways and don’t see each other again until, some months later, Tatiana walks into Ian’s office asking for his help – two weeks of shadowing him at his work as research for an upcoming role. A simple request, one that any other man in his position would kill for, and yet the mere idea of spending time with his greatest temptation, the only woman who makes him lose his composure, proves to be his greatest challenge.
“… while he was normally known for his self-control, from the first time they’d met, nothing about his reaction to Tatiana had been anywhere close to normal.”
Tatiana is like no other woman Ian has ever met, she is uncomplicated, naturally open and demonstrative, and she does not play games when it comes to expressing her emotions. Her genuine belief in love everlasting is contagious, even for a pragmatist like Ian, but while Tatiana believes to have found her Prince Charming in him, Ian is convinced that he could never make a woman truly happy, especially someone as deserving as Tatiana.
It all starts with an innocent kiss, but the fireworks that follow could light up the sky on a moonless night. They complement each other in every way, their every touch reveals what lies in their hearts, but only one of them is willing to admit their feelings for the other. They get a unique taste of what their happily-ever-after would be like if they both allowed it to happen, but it all ends too soon and what is left in its aftermath tastes sourly of heartbreak and regret.
“One day, she hoped, she’d be the one glowing from being loved so well.”
This is a story about a man who never believed in love and the woman who gave him a reason to start believing in it. Ian is a man whose loyalty and sense of responsibility towards his family have affected every single decision he has ever made in his adult life, his professional drive always overriding all matters of the heart, but then a beautiful woman walks into his life, one who wears her heart on her sleeve, who chooses him to give herself to body and soul, and who never gives up on him, no matter how many times he pushes her away. Tatiana is perhaps my favourite Bella Andre leading lady to date, her fearless determination and willingness to risk breaking her own heart for what she believes to be true, makes her a true heroine in my eyes. She never loses her child-like innocence and even soul-wrenching heartbreak never hardens her – she simply keeps loving and believing in love.
I adored this story, it made me feel so many different emotions, it made me love the characters and every one of their traits, and it left me smiling ear to ear. Very few authors know how to warm my heart time after time, but when it comes to Bella Andre, it’s always a sure thing.
“I wasn’t looking for you, Tatiana. I didn’t see you coming. I didn’t expect you to burst into my life and turn it upside down.”
As he looked at the beautiful woman standing before him, Ian finally accepted that she didn’t have a clue just how alluring, how tempting she was. On the day they’d met in the vineyard, he’d been so certain it was all an act on her part, that there must be something she was trying to gain by acting so, well, normal…despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Now he knew it wasn’t an act. Because though Tatiana was a world-class actress, she was one of the few women that he’d never seen put on an act in real life. Instead, amazingly, she let herself be real, be honest, be vulnerable. He could now see why Valentina and Smith were so protective of her.
Ian found that he wanted to do whatever he could to protect her, too.
Especially from a man like himself.
“It must have been difficult for your father when you decided to become an actress.”
“I was pretty young when he passed away. I’d only just started to do a few commercials, so he never had to deal with me falling for bad boys.”
“It wouldn’t matter how young you were, he would still have worried, would still have wanted to protect you.”
“I would have liked that–to know that he was there to take care of me if I needed him.” Her words were soft, filled with the longing for the father she’d lost far too early. “I always think of him, even now, when something really great happens. I want to run to him to tell him everything, want to feel him lift me up one more time and spin me around in circles until we’re both dizzy. Valentina says that she’s always felt him watching over us, but I didn’t get as many years with him as she did, and sometimes he’s so fuzzy in my head…”
Ian didn’t think before moving to close the distance between them. Tatiana’s grief at losing a parent was so much bigger than what he’d gone through with his divorce, and yet, she didn’t try to hold it in or to keep it caged inside.
He didn’t know how she did it, how she managed to be so open without fear of getting hurt. All he knew was that he had to be there for her, needed to lift his hands to frame her face as he told her, “Valentina is right, Tatiana. Your father sees you. And he’s proud of you, so damned proud. Not just because you’re such a success, but also because of the truly extraordinary woman you’ve become.”
Her eyes were shining with tears as she lifted them to meet his. “Thank you. Thank you for saying that, and for watching our read-through…and for worrying about me when I didn’t show up at your office.”
Her skin was soft, so soft. And so warm that he’d never wanted anything more than he wanted to close the rest of the distance between the two of them and kiss her.
Finally kiss her.
Finally learn if her lips tasted as sweet, and were as soft, as he’d imagined them to be.
In that moment, all the reasons he had for keeping his distance, for staying away from her, fell away as he shifted his hands to thread his fingers into her hair so that he could-
Her phone jumped on the kitchen counter, a loud buzz as it clanked against a set of keys that jolted him back into the real world.
He dropped his hands from her and took one step back, and then another and another, away from the greatest temptation he’d ever faced. And when he saw Smith’s face light up her cell phone’s screen, guilt at what he’d almost done swamped him.
Valentina and Smith trusted him with Tatiana. He should be protecting her, not fantasizing about all the ways he wanted to take her, how many times he could make her scream his name in pleasure before the next sunrise.
“You should get that,” he told her.
“Smith can wait. Right now, don’t you think it’s more important that we talk about what happened yesterday?” She touched her hair, the silky strands his fingers had been tangling in just seconds before. “And what almost happened now?”
He’d already gone too deep with her, shared too much of himself, but before he pushed her away again, he had to at least explain to her why he was doing it.
“I like you, Tatiana. A great deal. And I’m glad we’ve become friends. Which is why I can’t stand the thought of hurting you. Not in any way.”
“Why do you think you’ll hurt me, Ian? Why can’t we just jump and trust that we’ll help each other with the landing?”
“I can’t take any chances with you.” He wanted to touch her again so badly-wanted to feel her skin against his fingertips, her body pressed close to his again-that he made himself take another step away from her. “Especially not with you.”
She stared at him with big green eyes, and he decided to let her take a good long look this time, to let her see what he made sure to hide from everyone else. That she couldn’t want him. Shouldn’t want him.
Because he didn’t have nearly enough to give her.
But as he watched her watch him, a part of him–a really big part that he wasn’t proud of–was praying she’d ignore everything he’d just said and kiss him anyway.
Finally, though, she nodded. “There’s just one question I need to ask first before we go ahead as if nothing has changed between us, even though we both know it has.”
He braced for her question. “Go ahead.”
“Do you really think one teeny-tiny little kiss would really be that big a deal?”
“With you,” he said, as serious as he’d ever been in his life, “I’m certain that no kiss could ever be teeny. Or tiny. Or little.”
“A hug, then. Now that we’ve cleared the air from yesterday, I think we should at least be able to give each other a friendly hug.”
Even that was a bad idea, Ian knew, but before he could make that clear, her arms were already coming around his neck.
She was so much smaller than he, but they still fit together perfectly, her soft curves against his muscles, taut with the effort it was taking not to wrap her legs around his waist and lift her up on the kitchen counter so that he could devour her.
He could feel her breath warm against his neck, her long eyelashes brushing his skin as she closed her eyes, then opened them again. He could feel her heart beating against his chest, fast and hard, as they stood in the circle of each other’s arms for what was one of the most precious, extraordinary moments of his life so far.
Ian never wanted to let her go, didn’t know if he’d ever find the strength to do it, but he also knew he needed to shatter the moment before it spun off into another even more heady one. “My driver is waiting outside. That is, if you still want to come back to the office with me.”
When she finally drew back, cool air rushed in where her curves had been warming him. “I do. Of course I do.”
Her words were slightly breathless, and knowing why, knowing that he aroused her that much with only a hug, did crazy things to him. Especially when he couldn’t help but wonder just how aroused she would become if he kissed every inch of her, then followed up his kisses with caresses.