Keeping her identity hidden is harder than Elliot expected, especially with a roommate who seems to be on the verge of uncovering her true identity. As she fumbles through the opening chapters of her new life, Elliot encounters an entirely unforeseen obstacle: photography instructor Luke Poulos. Luke is sensitive and spontaneous. An art lover. Smart. Everything Elliot has ever wanted. Luke and Elliot’s connection deepens when she learns that he lost his parents in a car accident when he was a teenager. Like Elliot, Luke understands that life can shatter in an instant.
Elliot knows that a relationship with Luke is impossible; that he would never love her if he knew the details of her past. But as she struggles with whether to open herself to love or keep her true self locked away, Elliot learns that she’s not the only one with dark secrets.
Elliot Halloran has lived through an ordeal that no one should ever have to. She helped put her father behind bars – essentially breaking apart her family. Growing up in an upper class New York family should be the things dreams are made of. Lavish living quarters, tailored wardrobes; you name it, Elliot had it. It’s amazing how quickly your dream life can shatter. How hard it can be to make the right choice, especially when that choice can ruin the ones you love. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy and sometimes when the going gets tough, it’s just easier to run.
In Sweet Nothing, Elliot makes the tough choice to leave New York City and travel all the way down to Miami with the hopes of reinventing herself. She wants to leave Elliot Halloran behind. This is the moment that Elle Sloane is born.
Family friends are pretty convenient. Thanks to one, Elle is handed a pretty good gig as an economics teacher at a prestigious Miami academy – Allford Academy. First off, I love that she took this job. It seems to be right up her alley. However, it is not that easy to teach. I know people say, “Those who can’t do, teach.”, but that’s just a load of shot. Teaching is NOT easy. Walking into a classroom full of kids and spouting off information when you’ve had no prior teaching experience is pretty impressive. Not to mention the certification she would be lacking. But I guess if you can just change your name and claim to graduate from a University you never attended; skipping over your credentials should be easy enough.
While at Allford, she acquires some pretty interesting roommates. Waverly is more of a girlie girl. Kind of annoying. Always slinging out some underhanded comment. She means well, but just seems to be a little bit of a mess. Gwen, on the other hand, is more down to earth. I envision her as a hipster. She has some history in New York and I could totally imagine her in The Village; maybe at a quaint little coffee shop, working on poetry or something. She seems so real, but just like Elle, she’s hiding something from her past.
Then there’s Luke…
Luke is the trifecta of male perfection. He plays guitar, (automatic brownie points) is into art/photography (deep thinker) and, well, the last part I can’t tell you because Luke is also hiding something.
When Elle first meets Luke, she assumes he’s hired to entertain the guests at a reception for Allford Academy teachers and faculty, through his music. He is incredibly talented. So much so that Elle has trouble looking away from him as he plays. It is later that she learns he works in the art department. As the two get to know one another, they fall down the slippery slope of love. Too bad they’re both holding back vital information about themselves. Alright, honestly, I can see why Luke doesn’t blurt out his secret. It made sense for him to wait and see where things went before dumping everything out on the table. Elle, however, just annoyed the crud out of me. Once she realized she could trust Luke, she should have told him. It’s like she’s constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop; for someone to disappoint her. Yes, her father let her down. He let the whole family down. I get it. I promise I do. That doesn’t mean that EVERYONE in your life is going to let you down. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, and I just wish that Elle did that earlier in the story. The longer she waited to tell him, the more complicated the relationship became. You can’t hid yourself in a situation like that. That’s not how you build a relationship and because of her choices, she could have lost something real. It just irked me. There were so many opportunities for her to come clean. If I were Luke, I’d have been pissed. Especially after how she reacted when his secrets were finally spilled. I just wish she would have trusted him. She did the right thing. She needs to trust that people will see that.
“Got it,” I whisper back. And I let him hold my strong, broken self.
I did really enjoy the emails from her sister that we were privy to at the beginning of each chapter. They helped give a glimpse into what life in NYC must have been like for her and also kept us up to day on family happenings while Elle was “on the run”. It was easy to feel for Aria, Elle’s sister, and the issues she forced to face. It was obviously hard for Elle to sit back and watch her sister face some trying times without her, but at the same time it was necessary if she wanted to re-invent herself.
Mia Henry’s Debut novel doesn’t end with a HEA. It’s more of a HFN. We don’t get rainbows and butterflies. We get, ‘we’ll see what happens from here’ and declarations of dedication. Both very sweet, yet not overly fulfilling. I am interested to see what happens next. Especially with Aria. Oh, and of course where Luke and Elle’s relationship will take them. Luke’s life is in Miami, but right now, Elle needs to be in NYC. I’m sure there will be twists and turns I didn’t see coming.
“I’m glad you asked me to come out tonight,” Luke says when we reach the edge of the roof. Beyond the wall, Miami glints like an endless case of neon jewels. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since I got home.”
“Same.” Everything about him is distracting: the curve of his mouth, the color of his eyes, the lines of his chest. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you, either.”
“Good.” He cups the back of my neck with his hand; strokes my throat with his thumb. Presses me into the wall. “So do you think, maybe, you’d want to go out again?”
He bends down and kisses my jaw, my cheek, my chin. Everywhere but my mouth. My body burns with wanting.
“And again,” I nod.
“And again after that, and again after that.”
“Good. Because—” He pulls back, just enough to look into my eyes. “I like you.”
His words are so simple. And yet, I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard them. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard them. It’s almost too much. I’m not sure I can handle this kind of close. How could he possibly like me, when he doesn’t really know who I am?
“You’re such a nerd.” I grab his shirt and pull him into me, then stop as his lips are just inches from mine. I want him to take over. And he does, pressing me against the wall as he lowers his mouth to mine. His hands travel to the base of my skull. Then over the rest of me, sliding between my breasts to my waist. Effortlessly, he lifts me to the ledge, and there is nothing between my body and city streets below. My stomach bottoms out.
“Luke!” My whisper is hoarse. “Wait.”
“Hey.” His grip on me tightens. “I’ve got you, okay? Trust me.”
I nod; drop my face to meet his. Kiss him urgently. So hard my lips are burning like the rest of me.
“Elle,” he says roughly.
Almost in response, my legs part, and I draw him into me. He runs his palms over my calves and thighs, and I shiver at his touch. Hungrily, I search him back, feeling the heat of skin through his shirt. I clutch his belt buckle, and my hand finds the space beneath it. He’s hard, and inhales sharply the second I touch him.
“Fuck. I want to take you home right now,” he murmurs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mia Henry adores all things romance, from steamy stories to ugly cry-inducing movies. She lives in Florida, where she dreams up storylines during beach walks with her muse, a ferocious 8-pound pup named Lulu.