A young woman from a world of fame tries to hide from her painful past, but unexpected love finds her in the form of a young man who seems too good to be true in this New Adult romance that pulls at the heartstrings. Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Decide to Live by Shirley Anne Edwards, then add this compelling tale of empowerment and starting over to your bookshelf. In honor of this third installment in the Finding the Strength series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $50 Amazon GC too!
When it hurts too much to live, how does one find the strength to stay alive and find hope again?
Reiko Nakano has a charmed life. Not only does the twenty-three-old come from a life of luxury because of her celebrity parents and supermodel sister, she’s best friends with the biggest brother and sister pop duo in the world- Gio and Gem Grove. But what the public assumes is wrong, different because of what Reiko suffers in private. She feels she’s an outcast in her own family because of her ptosis and her social anxiety. She then makes the biggest mistake of her life and tries to turn her lifelong crush on Gio into something more. His cruel rejection after she lets him take her virginity leaves her heartbroken.
Reiko hides in the least likely of places- the small town of Albee, Pennsylvania. There she enjoys her anonymity and enrolls in summer classes at Maison University. She hopes she can fit in as a student, but life continues to play tricks on her when she’s hit in the face by a football from one of the most popular boys on campus, Will Forest. But this accidental but memorial meeting will help heal her fragile emotions because Will shows her how special she is to those she meets, including him.
She isn’t sure what to make of Will. He’s too nice and sweet, and treats her like gold. She accepts his attempts at romance even though it’s only temporary. But as the summer flies by, she doesn’t want to give Will up, who doesn’t know the truth about her “vacation”. And when Gio arrives in town, and threatens to out Reiko, she has some hard choices to make. Does she come clean to Will so she can decide to finally live on her own terms and embrace the amazing woman Will thinks her to be?
“I think it was a good idea to have dinner on the deck instead of at some restaurant.” Will pointed his seltzer can at the incredible view of the ocean from the back of his family house.
I couldn’t believe I was eating shrimp and clams with him, and actually had an appetite after talking for hours about my relationship with the Groves. Now that he knew, I was no longer on edge or anxious over the littlest of things.
“I would like to eat at a restaurant tomorrow. Maybe for breakfast?” I finished the last of my shrimp and stretched my arms over my head.
He finished his seltzer and opened another can from the case we’d bought earlier.
“Another seltzer already?” I joked, and finished mine.
“I wanted to get rid of the fishy aftertaste for our hot fudge chocolate pudding cake.”
My mouth watered even though I was full with shrimp. “I have room for chocolate.”
He tapped his chest. “A girl after my own heart.”
“Really?” The ocean waves crashing in the distance covered my voice but not enough based on how he plucked at the tab of his can.
“It’s too soon for us to have that conversation.” He didn’t sound too sure, and I wasn’t sure what to think.
“We’ve had enough heavy talk for one day.” I rose from my chair and gathered the dirty dishes. “I think I need to wait a bit before dessert. Want to clean this mess up then go down to the water?”
“I have a better idea.” He tapped on his cell as he stood, and music started playing from it. A familiar pop ballad from a few years ago filled the silence, and he held out his hand. “Let’s dance.”
I stepped back. “I don’t dance.”
“Don’t or can’t?” He came closer to me. “I’m a horrible dancer, but it’s a beautiful night, and no one is here to see us, so why not?” He wiggled his fingers. “My parents would dance out here when they thought Arielle and I were sleeping. They always looked so happy when they did. I wanted to share that same feeling with you.”
The sudden tension about my horrible dancing skills vanished. I may have even melted at what he said about his parents. It would be nice to have him wrap me in his arms and live in this moment—just me and him.
“Okay. But it’s your feet at risk.” I went to take his hand, but he kicked off his flip-flops. “Let’s dance barefoot.”
I was able to take off my sneakers without losing my balance then fell into his arms. He wrapped me in an embrace, and we swayed and circled around the deck.
“This is nice.” I exhaled. “I’ve never danced this close to a boy before.”
“The last time I danced with a girl was my senior prom.” He then paused and dipped me over his arm.
“Will!” I gripped his shoulders in surprise, and he quickly lifted me up.
“I’ve always wanted to do that.” He gave me a sneaky smile. “Let me lead?”
He spun me out then he twirled me under his arms a few times until I was dizzy. As he pulled me to him, I stopped but he kept his hand out.
“I wish you were my first,” I muttered.
Instead of pulling me to him, he moved to me. I expected him to dance, but he drew my hand to his chest while he rubbed my arm with the other.
“We can still experience a lot of firsts together such as the fudgy chocolate heaven waiting for us.” He lowered his head and huffed near my ear. “Also, I’ve never been with a girl or woman in the hot tub over there. How about you?”
I looked at the hot tub in the corner. He’d turned it on earlier for us to use if we wanted. At the time, I never thought we would, especially at night. I pushed aside my nervousness at what might happen between us in there, and after. “I’ve never been with a girl or woman in a hot tub either,” I deadpanned.
He lowered his face to my shoulder and chuckled. I curled my arms around him as he circled us around. I joined in on his laughing until he had backed me against the deck railing.
As he straightened, he cupped my face. “You’re in control here, not me. You tell me what you want to do. If you want to eat dessert and skip the hot tub, then we’ll do that.”
I gripped his wrists for leverage as I kept my gaze on his face. I was done looking away like I always had. Tonight, that would change with Will.
FIND AT GOODREADS here.
Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who first found her love for books when she read Nancy Drew's The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age, and since then has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head.
Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.
In the immortal words of Mark Twain: "Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile."
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