Updated: Jan 22
Too Beautiful to Break
by Tessa Bailey
Published by Forever
Book #4 in the Romancing the Clarksons series
A love of a lifetime . . .
Leaving Belmont Clarkson is the hardest thing Sage Alexander has ever done. From the moment they met, she knew Belmont was the one, and getting up close and personal with him on his family's epic road trip has taken her desire to a new, even hotter level. But there's no way she can go there---not without revealing secrets that could devastate them both.
Losing Sage is not an option. Belmont's heart is hers, has always been hers. He knows she's hiding something from him, but nothing will stand in his way of telling her just how much she means to him. Finding her is easy---saving her from her past could cost him everything.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Romance Feel Good
Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey is the fourth and final book in the Romancing the Clarkson's series. It continues the Clarkson sibling road trip, where Rita, Aaron, Peggy, Belmont, and Peggy's best friend Sage drove across country to fulfill their mother's final wish. It picks up shortly after the third books ending, and now all that's left is Belmont, the oldest, and most complex character of the Clarkson family, and Sage, the most secretive of the bunch.
There is no denying that this is a very unique romance. I can't really pin it. By the time we meet Belmont and Sage in the first book, they have known each other for a while, but we learn that their connection began right away, and for Belmont is was love at first sight. They are friends of a sort, providing each other, especially Sage providing Belmont, comfort in times of anxiety. There is also a first love aspect to this story, and a sweet innocence, which isn't typical for a modern romance with adults. Despite Belmont being incredibly intense, and bordering on creepy sometimes with his possessiveness, Sage wasn't put off from it. It's hard to define what kind of romance this is, which makes it rather unique. Hard not to be different with characters like Belmont and Sage. The story itself was good. I couldn't put it down, and my own anxiety was prickling while reading. The story flowed nicely between Sage and Belmont's POV's and there wasn't any point in the book where I was bored. Altogether, it was really well written.
I particularly had trouble reading the part when Belmont goes into the mine on Sage's behalf. Reading that he looked shaky going down was bad enough, but when we get to his POV of actually being underground, its awful. My anxiety was through the roof. Tessa Bailey did a good job portraying what PTSD can do to person, and how it can make a person, even one as strong as Belmont, crumble.
The characters are a whole other level of unique. Especially Belmont. While he is the way he is mostly due to his trauma from being pushed into a well as a child by his stepfather (by the way, didn't see that coming at all until Belmont's story began), and dealing with the overbearing PTSD effects from being trapped underground for four days, on top of shouldering this secret so his siblings wouldn't lose their father figure, I often wonder if perhaps he was written as someone on the spectrum. There is no one thing that makes me think this. I have three daughters on the spectrum. Sometimes I just get a feeling. His intense emotions, especially towards Sage, can be very intimidating to the reader. While some of the things he says border on the obsessive-creepy side, I was able to put that aside, because it doesn't bother Sage. She enjoys it. Belmont loves fiercely. His naturally protective, and obsesses about the safety of those he loves. We learn that every day, he calls his siblings places of work, or checks their social media, to make sure they are safe, and does so with Sage as well. It's a bit quirky, but it's so ... Belmont. He says how he feels, despite the intensity of those feelings. And while sometimes he came off as creepy, the amount of respect he shows Sage is phenomenal.
One of my favorite parts of this book is seeing how this road trip changed the relationships between the Clarkson's. The siblings holding hands in the end, going into the ice cold ocean together, with their partners there watching on is a beautiful ending for their story. The reason why this was Miriam's final wish was maybe a little predictable, but I love that Miriam knew Belmont would need his siblings with him when he found his father, and made sure it happened with the idea of them going on this final wish trip.
Too Beautiful to Break is a very unique romance, one that is written in a way that the trauma described in it by both Belmont and Sage is only a part of the story, but doesn't control them. Belmont proves that by continuing to work in the mine until he could overcome his fears. Sage proves that by standing up to the man who made her family's lives miserable. And while their relationship is rather intense, even more so then the past three, it works. I don't think it would work for any other characters but Sage and Belmont though.
Top 3 Favorite Moments
1. When Sage tells Belmont he doesn't treat her like a woman, and he follows up by kissing her and telling her she is a woman.
2. When Belmont gave Sage the antique heart shaped clock for Christmas.
3. Belmont and Sage losing their virginity with each other
4. (bonus) Belmont telling Sage about the well incident
5. (bonus) Sage FINALLY standing up to the man who added to her families misery for all these years, and the town standing behind her so Belmont wouldn't have to work in the mine to pay off her father's debt.
6. (bonus) Belmont finally gaining peace, and getting a part of himself back that he left in that well.
7. (bonus) The siblings holding hands and going into the ocean with their partners looking on
8. (bonus) The epilogue, with Belmont and Sage getting married, Rita and Sage expecting babies in the same month, Peggy and Elliott not only living blissfully happy, but Peggy becoming best friends with her stepdaughter, and Aaron and Grace starting their own company of sorts, travelling around and helping non-profits that are struggling
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Belmont: "You can take yourself away from me, but you can't take away the worry. Don't try. I covet my right to fear for every hair on your head."
Sage: "I never asked you to."
Belmont: "You did. Your heart asked mine. And mine was already begging."
Belmont: "You are a woman, Sage. You're the only woman."
Belmont: "Wherever you're going, Sage, every time you walk into a strange room, remember that you might be the smallest person in it, but you're the strongest and most beautiful. Right down to the deepest parts of your heart. But if you ever get scared or lost or lonely, know that I'm one phone call away. Whether it's tomorrow or fifty years from where we're standing, I'll come. I'll come before you know it."
Belmont: "Good-bye, my heartbeat."
Aaron: "Belmont. You listen to me, asshole. You listen. Get the fuck up from whatever ditch you fell into and go find Sage. I know how you're feeling right now. Like you have no direction or purpose. But you do. She's your purpose. Whatever happened, there's nothing that can shale that. We all know it. It seems like we've all known it forever."
Belmont: "I smothered her. She told me."
Aaron: "She was lying. I know you've never told a lie, so it's hard to understand, but take it from a reformed master. It's easy when you have a good reason. Or what you think is a good reason."
Belmont: "I'm glad you called, Aaron. I'm always glad. I love you. I'll be fine."
Sage: "Belmont, do you think of the kiss?"
Belmont: "I never stop. Never."
Belmont: "I've never been with a woman like this, Sage. Never touched a woman beneath her underwear. Or her breasts. Never been inside."
He couldn't swallow, so a choked sound broke loose.
Belmont: "I don't really have a way to explain how much it's you. Out of a million women, it would always have been you. My body ... the part you feel between my legs ... has never ached for anyone else."
Sage: "I-I've never been with anyone, either."
Belmont: "It was wrong of me to hope for that. It wouldn't have changed anything. But I've wondered if there are men on this earth I'd want to damn to hell."
Belmont: "If you're not my perfect Sage, let me learn you. Prove it. So I can prove to you I'm not going anywhere."
Belmont: "I was so sick over putting you on the train last time, I didn't get enough of the way you taste."
Sage: "Oh. And?"
Belmont: "And I'm going to do everything I can ... to make sure you never make me go a day without it."
Belmont: "Tell me why you're angry."
Sage: "Because I hate feeling responsible. I hate it. Why should I feel responsible when this is what they gave me? I should have laughed when my mother called and told me Augie was trying to kill my father. This place almost killed me. Everything inside me. I left here a shell. And I decorated myself, same as I decorated churches. I'm a lie."
Belmont: "I won't deny you're the kind of beautiful that makes me hungry, Sage, but you're no shell. God, no. Call yourself a lie? You proved yourself wrong by coming back here. You can't turn off your sense of responsibility, your love. Your beauty runs so deep, maybe even you can't understand it."
Sage: "You can't do this. You can't say and do the right thing every time. Just let me be pissed off. Let me feel guilty and shitty and robbed. Okay?"
She reeled a little at the loss of his stare, the weight of it falling to the floor. Before she could ask what he was looking for, he produced an uneven metal rod. Or a pipe. At some stage, it had probably been part of the deteriorating plumbing, but she stopped speculating when he pressed the cold length of it into her hand.
Belmont: "Be mad. I'm right here with you."
Sage: "You don't want to see me break things. You want me to pretty them up. You want me to make you better. Pretty you up. We're just like them."
Belmont: "No. We're going to fight until we're not. Right now is about you, though. Get as ugly as you want and I'm going to stand right here, having your back."
Belmont: "If you want me to remember the rules, you have to stop glowing like some kind of angel. You said you want compliments. Like that?"
Sage: "That was lovely."
Belmont: "I've got about a million of them. For you. I was thinking I should save them up so I never run out, but just about every second, I think of a new one. So I think we're good."
Belmont: "And in between all of it, starting when I wake up through when I finally fall asleep, I think of you. I check in on you, too."
Sage: "All those hang-ups first thing in the morning. That was you?"
He nodded slowly, his focus unwavering.
Belmont: "I know you're going to try to stop me from going into that cave, Sage."
Sage: "I am going to stop you. I know what it'll do to you."
Belmont: "I've known for weeks something was coming and I know we have more than just a disagreement ahead. I wish there was some way I could stand aside and let you jump this obstacle on your own. I can see you want to so bad, but I'm not physically able to let you. I can't. Please understand. I love the tide because it's constant. No matter how often it gets low or rises high, it'll keep coming back. Know the same about me, Sage."
Sage: "I do."
Belmont: "Do you want to die"
Augustine: "Come again?"
Belmont: "I said ... Do you. Want. To die? Because if you speak of her again with any disrespect, I'll spend my life in a cell, just so she can live in a world free of you. You want to know it I'm the real deal? Say another ugly word about her and find out."
Sage: "Why haven't you been with a woman, Belmont?"
Belmont: "Sage, can you ask me something else? Anything else?"
Sage: "No. It's something I need to know right now. If we're going to lie with each other -"
Belmont: "I don't like being vulnerable. I've seen .... things. Videos. And I know they're acting, but to let yourself be that way in front of another person ... that means trusting them. I've never trusted anyone the way I trust you. Not while wanting at the same time. And want ... want isn't the right word for this feeling inside me, Sage."
Sage: "What is the right word?"
Belmont: "Famine I've been in a famine."
Belmont: "Sage, I won't ever let anyone else touch me there. Never. Even if you don't ever do that again. It was so good ... so perfect ... and then you kissed me and I'm yours forever. I just need you to know that."
Sage: "I know, Belmont. I know."
Belmont: "We're two halves of a whole, you and I, Sage. I know there are things we need to work on. Me, mostly. I need work. But I know your heart, sweetest girl. You wouldn't have given yourself over to me like that if you didn't believe. In me. In us. So no more trading places for secrets. Anything you want to know about me, you ask and I'll tell you. I'll tear myself down the middle and let you see it all."
Sage: "You and me, Belmont ... there's always been a connection since the beginning. It's gotten so strong, I don't know how we would manage apart. We know one another's faults and strengths. We can predict and soothe each other and ... we know what might cause the other to self-destruct. I've been down there and I know what it's like. I can feel what it'll do to you."
Belmont: "Sage. I've been down there, too. Into the earth. Some of me is still there."
Belmont: "I don't want them to know, Sage. I never want them to know."
Sage: "You didn't even have to tell me that. I already knew. Because you're a man who values everyone's happiness above himself. And that's what makes you the greatest man any of us will ever know. There's never been anyone like you, Belmont. There never will be again. How lucky am I that I get to love you?"
Belmont: "You love me, Sage."
Sage: "Yes. Yes."
Belmont: "I've been doing better. I haven't been crowding you as much. Is that why?"
Sage: "Love like mine for you doesn't hinge on anything to be true. It just is."
Belmont: "Sage. I love you, too You already knew, right? Tell me you knew every single time I looked at you."
Sage: "I knew. But I really don't mind you saying it."
Their laughter was exhilarated, like fizz inside a champagne bottle.
Belmont: "I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life right now. I though you should know."
Sage: "I'm so happy, too."
Belmont: "That's not a small thing, though, Sage. It's a huge thing."
Sage: "I'll let you do it anyway."
Belmont: "Because you love me."
Sage: "It feels so good. You ... do you have any idea how much I want you? I don't even think I knew what that meant until right now."
Belmont: "I love you. God help me. I love you. God -"
With a bitten off growl, he thrust the remainder of his thick flesh into Sage, resting their foreheads together and keeping their gazes fastened.
Belmont: "I love you. I love you. How can you feel this good? I love you."
Sage: "I love you, too. It doesn't hurt when you're looking at me."
Belmont: "Then I won't stop."
Sage shifted her hips and their moans crashed together.
Sage: "Don't stop."
Belmont: "Sweetest girl. I need you. I need you."
Sage: "You have me. I'm right here."
Belmont: "Forever, though. You asked what a day is like for me. I never want a day like that again. When I call you, I need you to know it's me on the other end, because you know my breath so well. I need to share the tide with you in the morning and the night. I think maybe I have been, even when you weren't there. Let's not face days alone when we can face them together, Sage. Promise me that's possible."
Sage: "I promise."
Sage: "You just have to think back. You have to remember me telling you I loved you."
Belmont: "If I come back with a new boy and mind in the next life, I will still remember that, Sage Alexander."
Sage: "I would remember you telling me, too."
Belmont: "I love you so much. Marry me, have our children, never want for anything. Say yes to me, Sage."
Sage: "Yes, yes, yes."
Belmont: "What is it?"
Sage: "You have armpit hair and you laugh."
Belmont: "Your bangs are messy when you wake up. They look like pick-up sticks. I love it."
Peggy: "I know what you're thinking, Sage. And you knock it off right now. Or we'll drag you into the frigid pit of despair with us."
Aaron: "That's actually not a bad idea. If we expose her to hypothermia, Belmont would probably get some kind of Sage batsignal and show up. If for no other reason than to whoop out asses."
Belmont: "How have I been breathing without you, Sage? How did I manage it?"
Sage: "You managed it because you're a fearless man."
Belmont: "A fearless man for a fearless woman, Sage. All of me is standing on this beach in front of you. All of me will stand beside you for the rest of my life."
Sage: "I want nothing more than that. I want it with my whole heart."
Belmont: "You have it. Same way you've had my heart. Same way you'e made it beat. Made it strong."
Belmont: "I have to go jump in the Atlantic. I know. Maybe some cold water isn't a bad idea when I'm feeling like this."
Sage: "Like what?"
Belmont: "Like we haven't even begun to make up for lost time. And I need to get started on that. Badly, Sage. So badly."
Sage: "No more waiting to touch now. Everything about us is ... right. Isn't it?"
Belmont: "More than right, sweetest girl. It's us."
He'd laid a lingering kiss on her mouth while sliding a diamond ring onto her finger.
Belmont: "We're already as official as two people can get, Sage. But I'm so proud of you being mine, I'd be honored if the world knew."
Sage: "I want the whole family here."
Belmont had eased her down onto the couch and kissed her growing stomach.
Belmont: "Me too. I want them with us."