Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Beneath the Scars" by Melanie Moreland

Beneath the Scars
by Melanie Moreland

Beneath the Scars is currently on tour with MaE Book Tours and Promo Stars Services. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit of the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Into the Storm.

The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks - these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace. The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think - to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs. Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset. Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.
All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him - fill his hours. Bring him focus. Until she enters his life. She dredges up memories of the past - the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared. A story he keeps buried below the surface.
Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?
Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart. Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?

As I descended the few stairs to the beach, I was surprised to see the large golden retriever as well as the mysterious Zachary. I stood for a minute, observing him in private. He was standing, barefoot in the surf, staring out over the water as his dog frolicked close by. Zachary was a tall, dark silhouette against the sand and stormy, strange-colored sky of the late afternoon. Wearing dark jeans and the same overcoat that showed off his broad shoulders, a beanie once again pulled low on his head, he stood with his hands in his pockets, motionless, as the water swept across his bare feet. The rolled-up edges of his pants were dark with the ocean spray clinging to the material. I shivered just watching him. The water had to be freezing.
Seeing her new friend, Dixie let out a happy, little yelp, which had the retriever bounding over to her, once again licking her head and huffing as he greeted her. The two of them took off, heading right toward Zachary. He leaned down, greeting Dixie, allowing her a sniff, then patted her head and straightened up. He didn’t turn around or acknowledge my presence. With a roll of my eyes, I walked forward, stopping when I was close enough to be heard, but not have my feet in the frigid water. I waited, but he said nothing, ignoring me completely.
Unfriendly indeed.
“That’s Dixie—my dog.”
His chin dipped with a brief nod. “Elliott.”
I couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice. “You or the dog?”
His lips quirked at the edges. “My dog.”
“I’m staying at the Harpers’ house.”
He nodded.
“I’m not Karen—I’m a friend of hers.”
His sarcasm was thick. “I realize. I have met her—more than once. There is a slight resemblance, perhaps, but I can see you aren’t her. Your hair rather gives that away.”
“I’m sure it was a thrill for her,” I murmured, surprised to hear the trace of a British accent in his voice. I chose to ignore the remark about my hair.
“They’re letting me stay here for a while.”
“How kind.”
I shook my head. Was he for real?
“I’m Megan. Megan Greene.”
I searched my brain for something to say. “Looks like a storm’s coming in.”
I frowned at him—definitely rude. His voice, however, despite its unwelcoming tone, was low and rich sounding, his subtle accent curling around the words when he spoke. I wanted to hear more than a few monosyllables from him, and to hear him say my name.
“Aren’t your feet cold, Zachary?”
He glanced down and shrugged, still facing the water, not even acknowledging the fact I knew his name. “Not really. I’m used to the cold.”
I decided to try a different subject—maybe one that would open him up a little. “I saw your work at the gallery in town; you’re very gifted.”
Again, he nodded.
“Your Tempest painting is”—I searched for the right word—“exceptional.”
“It’s not for sale.”
Disappointed at his words, I studied his partially hidden profile. Again his jaw was covered in stubble, and all I could really see was his nose and the downturned set of his full mouth. Some wayward hair sticking out from his beanie was blowing in the wind; its color not easy to make out. I was sure it was dark, but I couldn’t see enough to determine if I was correct. I wanted to step forward, force him to look at me, but there was something about his tense stance that screamed “back off.” He was obviously uncomfortable with me being this close, so I remained where I was, even though I felt some bizarre sort of need to get closer. I had to struggle not to move beside him, slip my hand into his, and offer him some sort of comfort; to loosen the tense set of those broad shoulders. I shook my head at the strange urge.
“Would you perhaps reconsider?”
“No. Jonathon already inquired on your behalf. I have it on loan to the gallery as a personal favor. It’s not for sale—at any price.”
I smiled, attempting to tease him. “Everything has its price, Zachary.”
I wasn’t prepared for the venom in his voice when he spoke.
“I’m fucking aware that’s the way most of the world works. I don’t conduct my life that way.”
Then he turned and walked away, his long strides eating up the distance, his unbuttoned coat billowing out behind him. He whistled for Elliott, who dropped the stick from his mouth and chased after his master.
Both Dixie and I stood staring at the retreating figures. Not once did Zachary pause or look back, while Elliott raced ahead of him. I waited until he had climbed the stairs and disappeared from sight, never taking my eyes off him.
I blinked and looked over the water.
Now I could say I had met my neighbor.
That went well.

Featured Review
Beneath The Scars is absolutely amazing. It does take time to get into the story, but once the story line picks up, it's emotionally gripping. So my advice to readers ... is to keep reading, you won't regret it. My only bone to pick with the author, is that she made me cry and cry some more. Both the hero (Zachary) and the heroine (Megan) are going through bad times, one more the other. Megan is an absolute saint to be able to tolerate Zachary in the beginning. Zachary is a recluse and wants to stay that way, but Megan doesn't take the hint, and patiently breaks down some of his walls. She doesn't give up because she's instantly drawn to him, bad faults and all.
As this story develops and the reasons why the hero acts a certain way comes out, you can't help but fall in love with him. Megan and Zachary encounter many obstacles while falling in love, but love isn't supposed to be easy. Beneath the Scars, continually surprised me and kept me on my toes. Melanie Moreland is a fantastic storyteller and I can't wait to check out her future books. I will definitely be re-reading this book!

About the Author
Melanie Moreland lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her husband and fur children. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.
Known as the quiet one with the big laugh, Melanie works at a local university and for its football team. Her (box) office job, while demanding, is rewarding as she cheers on her team to victory.
While seriously addicted to coffee, and somewhat challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties and socialize, and also enjoys traveling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.
Melanie delights in a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines, to let her share them with her readers.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Beneath the Scars by Melanie Moreland.