Rating: 3.5(dual review with Jackie of Book Lovers Inc)Our Thoughts:Alisha: Lemme me start by saying that, aside from that AWESOME cover, I was really excited to read a story about a Marine. (I come from two USMC parents and a thoroughly military-bred extended family, so it’s a treat to have such protagonists featured in stories.)Jackie: I’ve never read any army/navy/marine based work before but I’m a big fan of NCIS (both versions), so I was looking forward to seeing how this element would translate into a romantic story. Though Try Me is nothing like the mystery-infused TV show, it did succeed in giving me a little insight into relationships involving loved ones away from home, fighting for their country.Alisha: Agreed. I also dig them because the military characters are often no-nonsense and tough as nails, having seen and done so much. Sergeant Jeremy Addison is of course no exception…he’s man with a lot of inner turmoil.Jackie: For me, the marine aspect added an extra level to the romance factor. Without it even being written, most people would be aware of the risks these men and women take, so finding a great love means that much more for the parties involved. They really don’t know how much time they’ll have together. Very bittersweet indeed, with hope that the emphasis is on the sweet.Alisha: Right. It was clear from the beginning that Try Me would be an intense, emotional story, for those very reasons. And that was what I was hoping for. What were your first thoughts going in to the story?Jackie: As I started reading, my first reaction to Try Me was: yeah, right! As if a marine on leave, stranded in the desert would just happen to run into the only woman he has really ever loved. But I think this was the perfect vehicle to kick start a short story. It’s certainly one way to avoid the one-night-stand turned forever-relationship storyline. It’s things like these that are still a bit of an adjustment for me as I try to curb my desire to be overly critical, when, in fact, directed writing like this is necessary for the novella format.Alisha: Indeed. That opening scene was a great way to jump right into a tale that was about 20k words in length. And I must say that Diane Alberts really knows how to write novelette- and novella-length material to make it feel well-rounded and well-fleshed out.Jackie: This being my first Alberts story, I’d have to say that I would be inclined to read more. There was enough going on to grab my attention quickly and keep it until the end. But it wasn’t just a wham bam, thank you ma’am; the emotions felt by both characters felt plausible to prevent any clichéd eye rolling.Alisha: Right. Alberts has mad writing skillz. ^_^ Objectively, it’s easy to see the tight, effective storytelling elements–concise, seamless exposition; natural dialogue; deep narrative voice; steady pacing; and thorough character development…all in a small package. A true feat.That said. ^_^ I feel like a bit of a wonk even saying this, but some of my (very subjective!) reading tastes kept me from really, really loving the story. For one, I have this *thing* with what I call “misunderstanDAMMIT!” ^_^ Not my favorite trope, because it’s often sooo very hard to maintain the misunderstanding throughout the story without either causing “too much” frustration (for the reader) or leaving the realm of believability. In this case, the misunderstanding involved the two main characters loving each other yet assuming the other person can’t stand them (or wouldn’t want them). For me, I couldn’t *quite* melt into the reasoning provided by each…nor the basis for the misunderstanding to continue throughout the story. Like for him: not realizing the obvious reason why she ran from him long ago, and assuming she can’t stand to be near him.. Or for her: she’s afraid Jeremy–a Marine who’s seen brutal combat–would be spooked and run away by her secret, pushing him away after wanting to keep him around. That’s totally just my own readerly quirk. I think those very same aspects will hook other readers.What was *your* take on the central dilemma between the two main characters? Did it work for you?Jackie: I could see how they each felt and how some people just aren’t capable of talking things out easily. It leaves room for misinterpretations and hurt feelings; it’s probably quite realistic to the way many people deal with their issues in the real world. I did think it a bit repetitive with Erica’s concerns about her self-image and just wanted her to blurt out the secret, already! In saying that, it would be (was) a difficult thing for her to overcome, for good reason.Alisha: I also did not expect as much turmoil as there was within the hero. That is to say, Jeremy hated himself, found himself to be less than worthless. He showed self-loathing to the point that I was somewhat afraid of his getting in a relationship! lol Because at a certain point, that would translate to completely basing one’s self-worth on another person.Jackie: It was interesting to see Jeremy struggle with his self-worth, and really there were only two people whose opinions mattered to him. His marine career, though, I think, gave him enough confidence to go after what he wanted and what he sensed Erica wanted. He just fell back on old habits as he felt rejected by her BUT he didn’t let it keep him down for long, a sure sign that he’d laid his past mostly to rest.Alisha: When the romance is on, it’s really on. There are some really touching, beautiful love scenes…which somehow manage to also be scorching hot. ^_^ But they are rare in the story, rendering them that much more special. This book is really far more about love than lust, though it does both well.Jackie: Totally. And it’s that build up, the anticipation of it all, that makes it all the more frustrating for characters and reader alike. They’ve waited seven years for this chance, but with both of them reminiscing so much, you feel like you’ve waited that long also, just reading about it. It’s because of that time lost that they’re able to jump into things, emotionally, so quickly too.Alisha: And it goes back to the solid writing style that makes the reader ease right into a relationship put on ice and then suddenly melted and set on fire. No lengthy chapters of development needed.Ah,I love dual reviews, Jackie. They can really highlight how differently the same aspects of one story can be perceived and appreciated by two people (or more–our fellow BLIer Stella had a five-star rating for Try Me!). That’s reflected a bit here in this review, but I think we can both agree that this is a sweet tale. Oh, and that the cover is hotter than hot. ^___^Jackie: I totally agree. My one lament would be that, though we do read that Jeremy has tattoos, they aren’t described in detail …Verdict:Jackie: Try Me is a quick, sweet story with more than a little heart in it. The hero with the troubled past could come across as formulaic, but Jeremy was just so likeable that you root for him from the beginning. I liked the fact that he was a marine but also that it wasn’t the only thing the story had going for it. For a small word count, Diane Alberts was able to work in a few different elements, with the focus being the love story. For sure, it’s a well-balanced HEA I give Try Me 3.5 stars!Alisha: I’m a big fan of Diane Alberts’s writing style (her recent recent release Divinely Ruined being one of my 2012 faves). She’s a great storyteller with a really effective, accesible style. Due to my peculiar particulars when it comes to certain aspects of stories, there were a couple of elements to which I myself didn’t fully connect (some parts of the Misunderstanding being one). Trust me, though, when I say that this tale has broad appeal. I’d easily recommend Try Me to my romance book buds, especially those looking for a quick, cohesive read.I give Try Me 3.5 stars!