Since moving to Haven to help out her closest friends, Melanie Ramsey has begun to reclaim her strength after a difficult divorce. Through Mel’s Motivational Blog, she’s inspiring other women too. Then a wild, one-night fling with Haven’s gorgeous deputy leaves her shaken, stirred—and pregnant. But Melanie’s not giving up her newfound independence for another powerful man. Not even one as upstanding and intriguing as
Tanner Roark . . .
What matters most to Tanner: defending the weak, seeking justice, and protecting his heart after a tragic loss. Random hookups have been working out just fine until he and Melanie collide. Despite her domineering ex’s best efforts to rattle her, she’s still kind and resilient. Not to mention witty, straight-talking, and sexy as hell. Chemistry is easy. Trust, not so much. But when you find the one who sends your heart soaring, what can you do except buckle up and hold on tight? . . .
Praise for Jules Bennett and The Monroes series
“Another page turner—I couldn't put it down!”
—Lori Foster, New York Times bestselling author
“Lively. . . . A fun cast of supporting characters add zest to this enjoyable romance.”
About the Author
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You're allowed to scream, you're allowed to cry, but you're never allowed to give up.
— Mel's Motivational Blog
If there was ever a time for cocktails, it was now. On the flip side of that, Melanie Ramsey couldn't drink. Her drinking days were over ... at least for the next seven months and two weeks, because this morning she'd had two thin blue lines staring her in the face.
Still, she found herself in the wine aisle of Quicky Mart choosing a bottle for her best friends because they were certainly going to need it when she broke the news to them.
What paired well with dropping a bomb like an unplanned pregnancy? Blush? Red?
Considering she'd had white the night of the greatest sexual experience of her life, which had landed her here, she chose the only white that was available from this dismal selection.
Her fingers curled tighter around the neck of the bottle. She knew that voice. She'd replayed over and over how he'd whispered it in her ear as he'd had her pressed against the door in the foyer of his house. For the past six weeks she'd done a remarkable job of dodging him after their one-night stand. What had she been thinking? She wasn't a one-night stand type of girl ... then again, if they all were with men like Officer Tanner Roark, she might have to reconsider. Holy smokes that man knew how to pleasure a woman.
But playtime was over ... and now they both would have to face the consequences.
However, now was not the time to tell Tanner that he was going to be a daddy. She was still grasping the life-changing fact herself.
After their night together she hadn't known how to handle a situation so foreign to her. Unfortunately, avoiding him had become her go-to method until she thought of something better.
Dodging Tanner had been quite a feat considering her best friend was marrying his cousin, but Melanie had been busy and apparently so had Tanner, because he'd done little more than text. Maybe he'd only wanted one night, too. She'd heard of his widespread reputation as Haven's most sought-after bachelor.
Melanie had thought for certain they'd been on the same page. She'd only wanted a safe man, someone she could have fun with, and prove to herself that she was in charge of her life and if she wanted to have a fling, then she sure as hell would.
Tanner was a ladies' man. Oh, he might not exploit his bedroom talents, but Melanie had been in town long enough to see how women looked at him, what they whispered through hushed gossip at the Curl Up and Dye salon.
She'd been so certain she was ready to take full control of her life, including taking a lover of her choice, and afterwards she would go on her way.
The irony of running into Tanner only hours after her world had tilted on its axis wasn't lost on her. She firmly believed in fate and signs.
Melanie pulled in a breath and pasted a convincing smile on her face — at least she hoped it was convincing. For the first time in two years, her nerve and courage faltered. She'd been shaken from the solid foundation she'd recently rebuilt for herself.
But she wasn't going to fall. Never again. This moment might shake her stability, but that was life, and she'd discovered long ago as a child growing up in poverty that the more obstacles life threw in your path, the stronger you were from dodging them.
She'd developed a strength she'd never thought possible.
Clutching her cheap wine, Melanie spun around. "Hey, Tanner."
Try as she might for a casual greeting, her heart sped up and her mouth nearly watered at the sight of him in uniform. She took in his navy uniform, how well his broad frame filled out every piece of that material, and the aviators he had tucked into the top V just above a glossy black button.
The knots in her stomach tightened. He was just as sexy and intriguing as she'd remembered ... damn it. She'd been hoping her imagination had just conjured up how amazing they'd been together. But one look at him now only had each and every touch rushing back in glorious detail. The tingling she'd felt from his simple touches, the tickling from his warm breath along her bare skin, the passionate way he commanded her.
"What are you doing here?"
Dark eyes raked over her, giving her chills and even more flashes of their night. He had dark and sultry down without even trying.
After her less than storybook marriage ended, it had taken her a hell of a long time to get up the courage to approach another man. For reasons she couldn't comprehend, Tanner had been the only man in the past couple years to interest her in any way. And by interest, she meant he drove her absolutely crazy with a want she barely recognized.
"I just stopped in to grab a sandwich," he explained. "I didn't see your car out front."
Yeah, her silver Beemer had stood out in this tiny town of minivans and pickup trucks. Haven was a far cry from Atlanta.
Melanie swallowed. She'd sold her car recently to help her best friend, Olivia Daniels, with her goal of renovating the small-town airport. Besides, ridding herself of the last shred of material things from her ex and assisting such a good cause all in the same whack had been so rewarding, so freeing.
If Neville Prescott knew where his precious BMW SUV had gone, he'd somehow spin things to the media that he was helping those less fortunate. Egotistical jerk of a politician.
Not that she'd ever wanted anything he'd given her, but when Melanie had left, she'd taken the only car she had. She'd been owed that much, to say the least.
Since selling her car she'd used the little in her savings and bought a gently used two-door sporty model. By gently used, she meant the seat didn't move and she had to shove a pillow behind her back to reach the pedals, but it ran and got her from point A to point B. Oh, the horn might sound like a cat whose tail got run over, but other than that the car was in tip-top shape. Plus, she'd purchased a nice bike for exercise and roaming around the quaint town, so it was still a win.
Considering her childhood and teen years, having a less-than-impressive vehicle actually felt right at home. But her marriage and her childhood were not areas she wanted to explore now — or ever, really.
"Oh, I'm driving something else now."
That's right. The black heap in the lot, with a rusty bumper and a shorted out horn, was all hers.
Tanner propped his hands on his hips and scanned both directions of the aisle before zeroing back in on her. "You've dodged me for weeks."
She'd rather talk about the sad excuse for a car than get into why she'd avoided him. In her defense, he'd not been around much, either. "I've been busy."
Not a total lie. She'd been working on all of the permits and discussing renovations for the airport Olivia was revamping with the help of her fiancé, Jax Morgan. Her law degree was coming in handy in ways she never would've guessed a few years ago.
To turn a small-town airport into a grand, high-concept business that would draw high-dollar clients took time and patience and a hell of a lot of paperwork and funds.
Celebrities were rolling through like clockwork to film in and around Haven, Georgia. Savannah, only a short twenty-minute ride away, had definitely become a hot spot for filmmakers. Melanie planned on making sure her friends were legally covered and protected in their endeavor. She wanted this next chapter in Olivia's life to be successful and a tribute to her late father and former owner of the airport.
"Too busy to talk to me after you slept with me and left the second your clothes were straightened out?" That would be because their clothes never fully came off. They'd been too hot, too hurried to worry about getting completely naked.
Heat flooded her, as well as a nice dose of guilt. "Keep your voice down," she whispered through gritted teeth. The last thing she needed was people in the Quicky Mart to hear the fairly new girl in town was getting it on with the hottest bachelor officer. Well, she had gotten it on, they weren't doing anything now.
Except the memories that kept replaying in her mind like a silent movie.
Tanner took a half step forward and tipped his head down as he lowered his voice. "I know we didn't agree on anything beyond that night. Hell, we didn't even talk much. But, considering our circle of friends, I didn't take you for the type that would brush me aside."
She hadn't, not exactly. She'd been completely out of her element when they'd torn each other's clothes off in a frenzy. Melanie had gotten swept up in the moment, in the man. She'd gone into the one-night stand with her eyes wide open, teetering on the edge of fear and exhilaration all rolled into one giant ball of emotion.
Then afterward, she'd had no words. How could she know what to say or do when she'd experienced something she'd never done before? The instant retreat had been the coward's way out, and she'd prided herself on becoming stronger than the woman she used to be. But she just couldn't face him. Not until she knew where her head was where he was concerned, because Tanner Roark made her feel things she shouldn't, things she'd never felt before.
After her failed marriage ...
No. Just no. She didn't trust her judgment — especially now. Besides, the one-night stand and the changed dynamics of their friendship weren't of the utmost importance at this point.
"I've just been busy," she repeated. "Livie is planning a cookout and bonfire soon, though. Friday, I believe. I'll see you there?"
Tanner's brows drew in. "Is everything okay, Mel? You seem, I don't know, jittery."
Jittery? More like scared out of her mind and no clue what to do next. Her life was one giant roller coaster, and she'd really like to slow down and hop off the emotional ride.
"I'm fine," she lied with a smile.
He eyed her once again. Tanner wasn't stupid and he wasn't buying her quick brush-off. Today of all days was not the time to get into this discussion. Delivering baby-daddy news in the middle of a gas station/convenience store was teetering too close to the lifestyle she'd tried to escape when she'd married Neville. She'd thought he was the way out of her impoverished life. She'd thought he would take her down the path to make something of herself and maybe make her parents proud.
She'd wanted their approval; she'd wanted to be proud of herself, too. None of that happened. Hindsight only proved she would've been better off in that trailer park working her ass off, with her scholarships to get through school, and then moving on to a law firm like she'd first planned. Thankfully, she'd been smart in school, had graduated early, had pushed through college before marrying. After that, though, her life had fallen apart.
Melanie had quickly discovered she was going to have to be her own ticket out of hell.
Too many emotions threatened to overtake her. She just wanted to get the wine and get out. There was no way she could go empty-handed to Livie and Jade and tell her two best friends about this pregnancy. Melanie needed a buffer, and wine, no matter how cheap, was always the answer ... unless you were pregnant.
She jerked from her thoughts. Neville hated when anyone called her Mel — which was precisely why she'd named her successful blog Mel's Motivations.
Her ex had claimed that he'd taken her from the slums and she needed to remember that. Her name was Melanie, she was his wife, and his appearances mattered, so by default hers did, too. Considering she was a branch of him, she needed to always have those pretenses in place. Perfect clothes, perfect hair, always smiling with just the right responses when she was allowed to speak.
She'd failed in so many areas. Smiling in public had been so difficult when behind closed doors she'd been living a nightmare. Some wouldn't understand because she'd had money, cars, a big house. But none of that had ever mattered to her. Not once did she ever care about material things. She just wanted to be with a man who loved her.
Neville had been the complete opposite. He'd hated quite a bit about her, looking back. She'd mistook his attention when they first met for affection. She'd thought the grass was greener on the other side when her parents urged her to jump at the possibility of a life with such a powerful, charming man. Little did they all know ...
Unfortunately, Melanie couldn't change the past, and her future required all of her attention at the moment.
"I'm running late." She gripped the bottle with both hands as if drawing strength from the inanimate object. "We'll talk at the cookout."
Again, probably not the best place to inform him he was going to be a dad. She'd have to tell him soon. Before Friday, because she wasn't going to be able to keep the secret from her friends. She needed them now more than ever, and it wasn't fair to let them in on the secret when Tanner was so unaware.
Melanie despised secrets and lies and swore never to be that person. Right now, though, she needed to gather her thoughts, her fears, her nerves, and figure out the best time and way to tell him.
Tanner propped his hands on his hips as he took a half step closer. Her body instantly tingled. Despite everything she'd been through, even what she dealt with now, Tanner Roark was one impressive man and demanded attention. Oh, he didn't do so with words or fists.
Tanner's strength and power had her captivated, though she'd fought it for months until six weeks ago, when she'd given in. She'd gone to Taps for a girls' night out with Livie and Jade. A little flirty banter led to a little more, then to a harmless dance ... well, she'd thought it had been harmless.
Being torso to torso with Tanner hadn't been harmless in any way whatsoever. That moment had awakened something inside her, something she hadn't even known she possessed. She would've been a fool to ignore the burst of emotions that had spiraled through her.
They'd gone from dancing to long glances to featherlight touches. Then she'd been in his house, plastered against his front door as he'd held her wrists above her head and given her a night that would fuel her fantasies for the rest of her life.
And right there in the Quicky Mart her body betrayed her and started heating all over again. Damn hormones were all over the place.
Everything about the man was dangerous. Not in the sense that her ex had been a danger. No, Tanner made her think too much about what she wanted, what she'd finally taken. He made her crazy with that devil-may-care attitude. And he was dangerous because those lips could drive a woman out of her mind with need.
But she had no idea how he'd react to the news of a baby. Sex was one thing, but entering into a bond that would forge them together for life was a whole other level. It was that bound for life thing that had Melanie more terrified than anything. She'd finally gotten control for the first time, but now everything she'd built for herself, every decision she'd made in the last two years, were threatened. Not because of the innocent baby, but because of the man who stood before her.
She would not fall prey to another man again. And once Tanner found out about the baby, Melanie feared he'd become all too hovering and controlling.
"I want to see you, Mel. I never chase women and I don't intend to start now." His lips thinned slightly, the muscle in his jaw clenched. "If I thought you didn't have a good time, then I'd back off, but I know you did. My shift ends at seven. You know where I live."
So many emotions curled low in her belly as Tanner left her standing alone holding a bottle of Quicky Mart's best white wine with a twist-off cap that money could buy.
Tanner had thrown out that invitation for one reason and one reason only.
What he didn't know was that the girl who had gone home with him over a month ago was not the same girl she was on an everyday basis. She'd been in town long enough to get to know him through their friends. From the get-go she and Tanner had butted heads, they'd argued, they'd ignored each other, and finally shared witty banter. But beneath all of their heated exchanges, the sexual tension had been brewing.
Melanie had fought the good fight until she hadn't been able to deny herself another second. Wasn't that why she'd left Atlanta and her old life? Hadn't she wanted to be free to make her own decisions? Free to live as she wanted and not be ashamed of herself or her past? More importantly, free to be out from underneath such a controlling thumb. For once in her life, she was finally in charge ... and she wasn't doing a very good job of things.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Be with Me"
Copyright © 2018 Jules Bennett.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this story. I am already ready for the next one. Great read
Great storyline and lovable charecters, Haven Georgia is a place I would love to visit! I'm hoping for a Jade and Cash story next!
I devour this series! Every book in this series has been a guaranteed page-turner for me and the characters are SO lovable. It gives me hope that even I can persevere after a rough history, all while falling in love with the characters through the ups and downs.
This was an enjoyable read. Miss Bennett has managed to touch on a subject without making either main character over the top. She also didn't allow the subject to become the focus keeping the story on the current relationship. I really appreciate that. Her handling of this story really makes me want to read more and I am looking forward to it.
Even this is second book in the series I didn't felt weird reading it simply because it can be read as a standalone too. It is a nice contemporary romance that is sprinkled with a surprise baby... Tanner and Melanie’s story kept me interested and I found myself taking sides and digging for the characters. I am not going into revealing more of the story to avoid spoilers for the other readers. All I can add is that I enjoyed reading it and I will go and read the first one in this instalment and for sure it wont be my last book by this author.
This is a contemporary romance by Jules Bennett. It’s best read as part of a series not a complete standalone. Start with “stay with me” This book returns to Haven, GA where tanner and Mel end up having a one night stand. After said one night stand, they were part of each other’s lives because Melanie ended up getting pregnant. These are strong characters. Start this series ASAP
This book is so wonderful....It tugs at your heart strings as you are rooting for Tanner and Mel to make it..Both of them have come from bad things happening in their past. They have to fight through that..Mel has to fight to not feel like every man is being a dictator with her. Tanner has to fight with a couple losses he had in his past. Your heart breaks as you read what each have been through..But can they learn to lean on each other and can Mel learn to trust Tanner with her whole heart and soul? You have to read this book to see how they do...It will have you rooting for them from the beginning. BTW I loved all the motivational quotes that was under each chapter number...
Be with Me is the second in the Return to Haven series but can also be read as a stand alone. This is a story of moving on, gaining control, and learning to love and trust again after escaping an abusive relationship. Melanie is working on her self-esteem and becoming an independent woman until a one-night stand has surprising consequences. Tanner is a workaholic with a secret second job and isn't looking for a relationship, that is until he learns that Melanie is pregnant. Now he must face his fears of history repeating itself and also convincing Melanie that he is nothing like her ex. This story and its characters will have the reader just saying WOW. This is a great story with fantastic characters. I received this arc from the publisher but all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Another MUST-READ book by the wonderful Jules Bennett! A slight twist on a HEA, Be With Me is the second book in the wonderful small-town romance series Return to Haven. It follows book 1, Stay With Me, and incorporates Jules' Monroe series into it as well (which was another fabulous series and one I would HIGHLY recommend!). Melanie Ramsey is pregnant from a hot, lusty one night stand. She is still adjusting to her new life after a marriage from hell with Neville, an abusive politician, and trying to figure out what she wants from life, while writing her successful blog. This revelation has put a huge kink in her plans...especially considering the father is none other than Officer Tanner Roark, a somewhat secretive man with some heavy clouds from his past, and someone who ticketed Melanie when she first arrived in town, which still doesn't sit well with her. I loved the blog quotes at the beginning of every chapter! One of my very favorites is "I love when the coffee kicks in and I realize what an adorable badass I'm going to be today." LOL. The quotes were a great way to head the chapters and get a feel for Mel. This love story has all the feels! It made me smile, it made me laugh, and it broke my heart and made me cry! It is written in 2 person POV and it is so well done! There is some hot sex, love, and heartbreak, and the author dives into abusive relationships, drug abuse, and loss. The supporting characters in this series (Cash, Jade, Livie, Jax, and Piper, are such a fun group and I am loving this series so hard and cannot wait for book 3 to come out!!!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for my honest review. This is the second book in the Return to Haven series that centers on Melanie and Tanner. Melanie was in an abusive marriage with a wealthy and powerful man. She walked away from the marriage two years ago and is now a successful blogger. Tanner is a local Haven police officer, who also helps abused women escape their abusers. Melanie and Tanner don’t want to start a relationship, but end up hooking up one night. Of course, this one night stand ends up in a pregnancy. Working together to make a good life for their future child forces Melanie and Tanner face their past traumas and eventually realize that they love each other. What I liked about this book, the accidental pregnancy trope, Tanner as the sensitive Alpha and the pace of the relationship. I had problems with two areas, Melanie’s evil ex and Melanie’s wimpy reaction to so many things. I felt that the ex was a very two dimensional villain. Melanie was supposed to be this strong survivor of abuse and a very smart person, but she did some really dumb things. I just wish she had been stronger and solved her own issues.
That was another great story from Jules Bennett. In this one, get Melanie & Tanner's story. Melanie had been in an abusive relationship, got out of it a few years ago & started a successful blog to help other women. She went to Haven to help some of her closest friends where she meets Tanner. Tanner is a police officer who helps victims of domestic abuse. Both have things they have to work through & neither wanted a relationship but sometimes you have to go with your feelings.
Be with Me is the second book in Jules Bennett’s Return to Haven series. I have to be honest I couldn’t put this book down! Melanie Ramsey was trying to rebuild her life and mainly her confidence when she decided to spend one-night with Tanner Roark. She’d been through a rough marriage and childhood and was finally getting her life together through her motivational blog. Tanner had his own past one that he couldn’t put aside. When their one-night turns into something more, Melanie and Tanner discover they can take that chance and slowly come to grips with their pasts. Although, Melanie’s past is much harder to walk away from, Tanner is by her side offering support and encouragement. I absolutely loved Be with Me. I missed the first book in this series and will definitely go back and read it. It was also fun catching up with some of the characters from Ms. Bennett’s The Monroe’s series. I highly recommend reading this book. I received an advance copy and this is my honest review.
4 1/2 STARS! Strong characters, deep connections and a boat load of good times! With an ever-popular visit back to Haven, Georgia, we get to reconnect with the small airport project that we fell in love with during Jax and Livie’s story in Book 1 and we also get to see a bit of the brother’s we adored in the original Monroes series. Melanie and Tanner have a strong connection, but each have their own past that keeps them weighted down with fear. The baby on the way makes them have to move out of their comfort zone and actually try to reconnect with parts of them that they have hidden away for years now … and the magic of watching them come back to life is super special! Great characters, a very relatable plot and lots of happily ever after feels! Melanie Ramsey moved to Haven to be close to her friends and simply because it came at a time when she was ready to take charge of her life and a new town was paramount. She never expected to find herself unexpectedly pregnant at this point, and even though it scares her, she can’t regret it for a single minute. Tanner is a complication she’s not sure how to handle right now, but she’s well on her way to making the life she’s always dreamed of, and she won’t be backing down lightly. Deputy Tanner Roark has a past that led him to live only for the moment and not plan on having that perfect happily ever after that everyone dreams about. He’s just fine being a friend, a son, and a temporary lover … until Melanie comes into his life. He was more moved by their one night together than he ever expected and the fact that she’s been ignoring him since is getting on his nerves … but when she comes bearing the news that they’ve having a baby, he sets out to convince her that they can have a life together … even if it sends him into a panic!
This is the second book in this series and I missed the first one but I will be going back to read it for sure after liking this one so much. I really like Melanie and Tanner and the supporting characters from the series as well. I also love the small town romance trope and Haven is perfectly small. Despite their difficult pasts, Tanner & Melanie give into their attraction and hook-up one night. They have serious chemistry. They've both had it rough and a relationship was not what they were looking for. After something more permanent comes out of what was supposed to be just one night, things do get a bit complicated. I love the way this couple supports each other and helps each other in the present for their future by dealing with their pasts. That's a relationship!
I loved this one! Tanner and Melanie seem so real and interesting, I was hooked right from the start. Both these characters have baggage. Melanie doesn't feel she can ever really trust again and Tanner is determined to protect his heart. Yet all it takes is one night for these two to be forever bound. It may take a little time and huge leaps of faith by both of them but if these two want it they could find the happiness they have always wanted. This book is very well written and the story just flows. I definitely recommend it to everyone.
This is the first book I read by this author, and it certainly will not be the last one. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The plot was engaging and centered around Melanie Ramsey and Tanner Roark. Melanie moved to Haven not only to help her friends but also to start anew , after she divorced her abusive husband. Tanner is a police officer who is all about protecting the innocent . When they meet, the attraction is instant though at first it was masked as a total dislike. When they give in to a moment of passion, little did they know that their lives would change forever. Both have had losses and been hurt deeply and are still recovering. But Tanner is determined to do what he can to create a family while Melanie does not want to depend on anyone. Yes, it’s a story about heartbreaks,and lost dreams, but it is more than that. It’s a story about true friendships, family, overcoming obstacles, trust not only in others but also in oneself, and of finding someone who loves you for whom you are . Kudos also to the author for bringing up the subject of domestic abuse, which sadly, is very real. My only regret is that I have not read book one in the series. That said , I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us in book 3. I was entrusted this copy by Netgalley. The opinions expressed are solely my own.