When I think of erotic romance, I think sex scene after sex scene with a superficial plot that loosely ties the whole thing together. Usually it goes something like this: Woman meets man. Woman intensely dislikes man while still finding him extremely attractive. Woman and man exchange heated words with an undercurrent of sexual tension. They give in to sexual chemistry and end up in bed together - for the rest of the book. Of course, there are variations on this theme but that's how it generally goes. At least, that's how it goes in most romance novels I've read. I can't help it, I have stereotypes for romance and erotica. That's why I generally don't read or review them. Enter author Lisa Renee Jones. If I Stay breaks just about every stereotype I have. The main character, Sara, is a strong woman. No, she probably can't kick your ass and she's not a ball-buster. She's a real woman. She's been in bad relationships before and knows better than to repeat her mistakes. She's assertive and smart while also being sensitive and kind. The first-person point of view also gives us an intimate look into Sara's mind and we can see an element of vulnerability that really rounds her out and makes her very believable. I think many women will relate to Sara, her thoughts and her actions. She reads like a real woman instead of a stereotype. The main love interest, Chris, is a sexy artist who is a little bit dark and mysterious. He has tattoos, ownes a motorcycle and wears boots. Typical male bad boy, right? No way! Along with being an extreme hottie, he is also sensitive, considerate, and protective without demeaning Sara or coming off as misogynistic. Another stereotype blown!As for plot, there's a lot going on here. On the surface, Sara is trying to figure out what happened to Rebecca, the author of the erotic journals that are found in a storage unit. The journals hint at something nefarious and Rebecca has been missing for months. Where is she? Is Sara's new boss, Mark, the man from Rebecca's journals? Does he have something to do with where Rebecca is? Or maybe it's Chris! Could he be the other man in the journal? Sara is determined to find out. Underneath that, is the story of Sara and Chris. They are both damaged people who find each other and form the fragile first threads of a relationship. They don't start off hating each other. In fact, they start off curious about each other. With each meeting of this pair, their attraction and genuine interest in each other grows. Things initially build slowly between them but once they each realize the depth of feeling between them things swing into high gear. The book ends in a major cliffhanger which I both love and hate! I love that the author makes me want to read the next book in the series immediately! I hate that I have to wait until it's published to read it! This is the exact reason that I like to wait until a series is finished before I start it. That way I can have a reading marathon and read them all one after the other. Darn you, Lisa Renee Jones! Now I have to wait until sometime in 2013!Overall, I would recommend this book to a wide audience. The writing is amazing, there's a good mystery, realistic characters, and romance. There are some really steamy sex scenes if that's what you're looking for. Don't be afraid of the mention of BDSM on other reviews or descriptions. And don't be afraid of the comparisons to 50 Shades. This book offers something a little spicier than the usual while still being accessible to the casual reader. There's nothing disturbing or offensive here. This book broke just about every stereotype I had of the genre. I loved the characters, loved the plot and was pulled in right from the very first page. 4 Stars!