Posted in Books

Hold on Tight by Serena Bell

He was in her space now, backing her up. She could feel the heat of his body. Smell soap and musk, which called to the most primitive part of her brain: You want this.
“Fine,” he said. “Let’s be stupid.”

My favorite Serena Bell title up until now has been Yours to Keep. Fantastic story, well written, emotional, awesome characters, genuinely real story. I can go on.

But now my heart belongs to Jake Taylor.

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In Serena Bell’s heartwarming novel, a young mother and a battle-scarred veteran must decide if they can rekindle the sparks they once shared.

Fighting for his country gave Jake Taylor’s life shape and meaning. Now as an injured war hero he struggles to find purpose, until he runs into the gorgeous woman he dated briefly—and disastrously—before being deployed eight years ago. Turns out Jake doesn’t just need to figure out how to be a civilian . . . he also needs to learn how to be a dad.

Eighteen, pregnant, and totally lost, Mira Shipley couldn’t track down the soldier who fathered her child, so she put college on hold and focused on making a good life for her son. Now she’s determined to be something more than Sam’s mom, her parents’ daughter, or Jake’s girl—as hot as she finds her old flame’s take-charge attitude in and out of bed. Soon Mira and Jake realize that their passion didn’t disappear when Sam was conceived—and that instead of running away, sometimes it’s better to hold on tight.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from other Loveswept titles.

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Discovering Serena Bell (thanks to Ruthie Knox and Strangers on the Train) is turning out to be a fantastic reader’s experience for me. Hold on Tight has everything a good contemporary romance needs to have.

After her summer fling deploys to Afghanistan, realizing she’s pregnant at 18 throws Mira off her academic track, derails her plans, and gives her one of the biggest heartaches and most amazing gifts life can offer.

Eight years later she finally manages to unentangle her life from her father’s grip and moves 3000 miles away without her ex-boyfriend, but with Sam. Her son.

Sam, being a 7 yo boy, finds himself at the physical therapist’s office, where Mira sees the man she has spent the last eight years thinking of. Circumstances (and biology, of course) keep them in contact, which rekindles their passion.

Mira and Jake are both characters that are constructed very well. They’re strong, determined but have a distinct vulnerability that is dealt with on their way to their happily ever after. Mira – her being manipulated (while out of pure love and concern) and Jake – as with many recently back from deployment soldiers, traumatic experiences and great losses.

That’s where Sam shines. That boy is fantastic. I’m pretty sure he’s the best written character in the book. Sam is smart, he’s funny and as with all children – observant. He basically stitches everything back together.

“You slept over. And you’re a soldier,” he said, and she could see it coming with all the force of a slow-motion impending disaster.
“My real dad’s a soldier.”
“Sam, do you want to watch Saturday morning cartoons?”
But Ninjago had nothing on the need for a small boy to understand his paternity.
“Are you my real dad?”

Now you tell me if that doesn’t make your heart clench in the best way possible?!

I loved that Serena Bell writes strong characters with a clear story arc. A strong heroine that still needs work to achieve her heart’s desire, that won’t let anyone dictate her own wishes to her and shines warmth and understanding in an extraordinary way. A swoony broken soldier for a hero that only wants to keep doing the only thing he knows how to do. Both learning to navigate being parents when Mira has always been one to Sam, but not with a partner, and when Jake is still getting used to the idea of being a father, thrown into an instant family situation, not to mention his strong and growing feelings for Mira.

Are you not convinced yet? Fine. Read it for Sam’s ridiculously amazing lines, if nothing else.

I’m avoiding saying much about the plot as to not spoil it, but I can say this contemporary second chance romance is Bell’s best written book yet. It deals with the horror of war beautifully and with great care, weaving it into a great love story, and many, many swoons.

Suffice it to say I’m anxiously waiting for more  of Serena Bell’s work.

My rating: 5

* Thank you LoveSwept and NetGalley for the advance copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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I read, review, flail and swoon.

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