Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️++
As a romance reader, I tend to like most romance genres and tropes. Obviously, I have my favorites: enemies-to-lovers and forbidden. And I have some that I appreciate, but they sometimes leave me unsatisfied. The friends-to-lovers trope walks that fine line for me. It’s always strange that a man and woman who have been friends for years, even decades, would finally realize they have deeper feelings for each other beyond friendship. Yet, I know it happens, which makes this trope, one probably closest to real life.
Melanie Harlow’s Insatiable is this such story. Set in the Cloverleigh Farms world, Insatiable is the third book of this series. It follows the characters, Noah and Meg. Noah, a deputy sheriff, and Meg, a political strategist, have been friends since their teens. While they don’t spend every day in contact (Noah lives in their hometown in Michigan and Meg lives in DC), these two know that the other person is always available for them. There have been a few moments over the years where each was curious about a romantic connection with the other, but the priority of the friendship is more important. Meg returns home for her little sister’s wedding. She is somewhat disillusioned by life. She has recently broken up with a long-term boyfriend, her job has overwhelmed her life, and she’s searching for more, for a dragon slayer to fight for her. While in town for the wedding, she decides to meet up with Noah. Even though Noah has pushed his attraction to Meg into the recesses of his mind, it becomes more apparent this time. Likewise, Meg also feels a strong attraction to Noah. While Noah does feel connected to Meg, he makes it clear that he is not interested in a relationship. He believes his focus in life should be his family: his mother, his twin brother with cerebral palsy, and his sister. Given that Meg lives in DC, they agree to explore their intense attraction for the week that Meg is home. However, they agree that, after the week, they will return to their lives. Will Meg and Noah fall in love, or will this be strictly a “friends with benefits” arrangement for the week Meg is home?
Melanie Harlow’s Insatiable is equal parts sweet, sassy, and sensual. There is truly something for everyone in this story. Even if a reader isn’t a fan of the friends-to-lovers trope, there is more to this story beyond that trope. For one, Noah has created a life that is safe as a response to his guilt over his brother’s illness. He doesn’t believe he’s worthy of the benefits a marriage and children can bring him. He’s a good guy. He’s well-respected in the community; he’s compassionate and empathic; he takes wonderful care of this family; and he loves his dog, Renzo. Yet, he lives his life in denial, which makes his world very small. Similarly, Meg also struggles with creating a small world for herself. As a Type-A personality, she overworks. Her relationships fail because her need to be emotionally vulnerable in a relationship is difficult. She has a few friends in DC, but her job drives her life choices. Her hobbies are few, and she struggles to see more for herself. Both Meg and Noah as heroic types illustrate the need for us to break down our walls and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to love and all of its rewards. Harlow illustrates this through their storyline, obviously. But she makes these two characters, everyone. These are regular people struggling with the same issues that people like me or you struggle with each day. This story reads like my experience or your experience with some hot $exiness, some humor, and a wonderful happy ending. This book is meant to be a mirror to ourselves, I think.
I love the relationship between these two. Meg is honest and nurturing with Noah in ways that he fails to find in his past relationships. She accepts his life, and she offers him something that no one else has given him before: $exual experiences that match his needs. Honestly, Meg is THE best character in this book. She’s brave when Noah runs scared; she’s empathic when Noah needs an outlet for his anger; and she’s incredibly forgiving of Noah’s carelessness with her heart. On the other hand, while Noah is all the traits I noted in the paragraph above, he is ALSO the greatest source of frustration in this story. If you struggle with stubborn, short-sighted heroes, then you will NOT like Noah. It takes him much of the story to figure out his contradictions about his future. As a reader, that can be incredibly frustrating. However, it’s Harlow’s tool for the tension of this book. Without Noah, this book would be safe; it would be fairly vanilla. Instead, Noah is the impetus for both the $exiest and the most angsty parts of it. Honestly, he made my heart hurt for Meg and brought some tears to this reader’s eyes. That being said, he is also responsible for the swooniest moments too. Don’t give up on Noah. He will mend your heart in the end.
Finally, I think the true treasure of Harlow’s Insatiable is the return to Cloverleigh Farm. I have to admit that this is the first book I’ve read in the series. And once I’ve cleared my ARCs from my Kindle, I will be returning to the first two books in this series. I fell in love with the Sawyer women in this story. I love a story where women play front and center. It’s a very pro-woman book. Also, if you haven’t read a Melanie Harlow book before, please note that you can pick this book up today, read the story, and you would not have missed a thing. Harlow does a wonderful job of creating a romance that makes you fall for her Noah and Meg. Yes, I’d love to read Frannie’s story, along with Chloe’s story. However, missing their stories did not affect this story in the least. They merely added other opportunities to spend time in the idyllic world of Cloverleigh Farm.
What should you ultimately know about Melanie Harlow’s Insatiable? This is a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute, you will find yourself laughing with Noah and Meg as they banter back and forth with each other, an undercurrent of sexual innuendo shadowing it. The next minute, you’ll feel your blood pressure rise at their chemistry. And the next minute, you’ll grab for your tissue box as they struggle to find their future together. Yet, in the end, you’ll fall in love with this sweet, sexy, and sassy romance that seeks to show us that, regardless of our life situation, being loved is the only thing to make us truly feel whole.
In love and romance,