Those looking for a bit of decadent delight will want to spend some time with Stay for Me by Carlene Love Flores. Keep reading to get a taste of this first installment in her These Three Words series, along with my impressions of it. Learn even more about this book by Ms. Flores's talking about what inspired it and learn even more by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour. Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!
Once upon a time in the decade of the 1970’s long long ago, the love of my mom’s life took her to her very first male revue show. They lived in Las Vegas and the show was of the smaller scale but still, it was men dancing sexily for tips out to give the ladies a good time. I never knew my step-dad had done this and the reason I’m sharing this story with you is because it inspired my new release, Stay for Me.
In October of 2014, this good man sadly passed away. He and Mom had been divorced for several years but she never remarried. He remained her one true love even though they were no longer together. Mom and I traveled to the Las Vegas area forhis funeral. He’d been sick and asked his friend who spoke to us to remind us that he wanted a celebration of his life when he passed. Mom and I would honor that to the utmost of our ability.
We went straight from his service to ride in a helicopter over the Hoover Dam, a place where he loved to ride his motorcycle. This was our first time in a helicopter and it was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. On the way back to our hotel room in Vegas, I thought we’d done good and would spend the rest of the night quietly relaxing. That was when Mom looked at me and said, “You know what? I’ve never been to see the world famous Chippendales. We’re going tonight.”
At first I was a bit thrown off and I’m sure she figured this out. She then explained how my step-dad had taken her to her first one and now she saw it very fitting that she was going to take me to my first show. “I’ve always wanted to go,” she said. “We’ll go in his honor.”
We got our tickets and that night, my mother opened my eyes to a whole new world. I had never seen anything of the sort. I have a pretty vivid imagination and I’d relied on fantasy images for writing my books. Now I’d seen all those hero types we love to write and read in the flesh. But I wasn’t noticing the skin and lack of clothes, I was picking up on the small things like how one dancer made it a point to smile, wave and mouth the word “Hi” each time he looked out into the audience. I noticed how the biggest dancer was a bit clumsier in his choreography but made up for it with an engaging sort of darkness in his eyes that made him seem in need of saving. It was that sentiment he brought to the stage that inspired the main character, Sam, in Stay for Me. And the sweet one who liked to wave inspired Sam’s friend, Gabe.
The behind the scenes people were just as intriguing. Of course I had to spend time watching the girls running the merchandise shop because every romance needs a heroine and I love the trope of best friends to lovers.
Mom and I came home to San Diego and I wrote that book in one month. It’s dedicated to Cliff, a wonderful man and my mom’s true love. I hope you enjoy it and thank you so much for letting me share this story with you today.
I’d love to chat. Anything goes. Whether you’ve been inspired lately or celebrated someone’s life, or experienced a “first” recently, if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it.
One night to finally make it right before it all gets torn apart…
Two years ago, best friends Emma Chester and Sam Jason tried being intimate.
Due to Sam’s massive size, it didn’t work. Embarrassed, they did their best to move on. Now the day has come where Emma must suspend Sam as a dancer at the club they work at, awakening the buried pain of that one night.
Sam has seen this day coming but is shocked when Emma asks him to strip for her just once before he leaves the club. Allowing himself to feel for her again is too dangerous but she’s clearly not in her right mind and needs him.
Can he maintain his restraint and help her? When she hands him his uniform to strip out of, is she handing him her heart? Or is it too tattered to ever belong to him again?
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
Fans of the friends to lovers theme will find themselves drawn to this story's premise of two people forming an intense connection with each other after Sam came to live with Emma and her family when they were teens. They loved him unconditionally and his love for her, and admiration for them, made him want to repay them all which leads to a life-altering decision to become a stripper which is further complicated when she becomes his boss. These conflicting roles lead to intense sexual frustration as Sam decides to finally live life to the fullest and go after what makes him happy. Going after her heart though will be difficult as past events keep holding her back. With one night left before they're separated they'll both deal with the past head-on in a dark room where they'll finally see the truth about each other.
The premise intrigued me from the start as it's unique to see a male be a stripper. Sam's not the typical stripper though as he's not a dancer and doesn't crave the attention. He craves the closeness he has to Emma which keeps him working there, as does the money to pay off her college loans. He's an honorable man who wants nothing more than to take care of Emma and never let her get hurt again. These endearing qualities drew me to him along with his sweet and caring side. He's not perfect though as he's extremely well-endowed which traumatized Emma and is a big part of their remaining just friends.
Emma's always cared for Sam and after he returned from war she wanted to prove it but was thwarted by his being heavily-endowed. It was a moment of embarrassment that weighs on her and holds her back from committing to him. Another painful moment courtesy of a cruel stripper also holds her back with its bruising of her self-esteem. With their separation on the horizon she decides to deal with all the traumas of her past so Sam can finally be her future. While I applaud Emma finally dealing with the past, she acted like she was going to war with her mental preparations. It diminished the romance that their friendship so sweetly hinted at and made their interlude a bit clinical.
On a whole though this is an entertaining journey with a theme and premise that immediately hooks you. While the execution wasn't perfect it did keep me immersed in this rocky journey of friends becoming lovers. The main couple is likable with a connection that brought a smile to my face as well as leaving me frustrated. I enjoyed the glimpses of the other strippers and hope we see them again, particularly Gabe who's a VERY supportive friend in a scene that becomes a bit awkward but left a lasting impression. This was my first time reading a book by Ms. Flores but won't be my last as this story had a delectable hook and showed great promise for more in the future.
My rating for this is a C+
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Carlene Love Flores is a big fan of the stars (especially Orion), honest music (especially Depeche Mode), and her traveling family (no favorites there-she loves them all). These things inspire her intimate style of romance writing. She feels honored to be a member of Washington DC Romance Writers (WRWDC) and RWA San Diego (RWASD). Carlene currently lives in the San Diego area where she can often be found listening to live music and looking up at the sky on clear nights. If she could touch someone’s heart with her writing the way others have done for her, she’d say truly there never lived a luckier girl.
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