Book: Holding Out
Series: Returning Home #4
Author: Serena Bell
Release date: 21 May 2019
Main characters: Becca Drake, younger sister to Alia, and drifting along through life. Griffin Ambrose, mutual friend, supposed good time guy who hides his pain down deep.
His friend’s little sister has just asked him for a BIG favor. The trouble is, once won’t be enough … for either of them.
The answer has to be no, of course. No way Griff Ambrose is going to help Becca Drake solve her inexperience issues. Not only is she his friend’s sister, but Griff doesn’t do commitment—not since the day he came home from war to find his house empty and his wife gone.
But he can’t get Becca’s request—or pretty much anything else about her—out of his head. What can it hurt, anyway? If it’s awkward afterwards, they can just avoid each other. Right?
Becca Drake has turned her life around, and she’s proud of how much butt she’s kicking. The shy girl with the self-esteem problem has been shown the door, and New Becca’s in the driver’s seat. There’s just one more demon she has to exorcise. Her lack of experience is messing up her romantic life. Guys who might be okay with giving her a test drive act like they’re being auditioned for marriage when they find out exactly what she’s never done.
Griff is the perfect candidate to do the deed: He’s her friend, he’s hot as heck, and neither of them wants anything serious.
Then Becca’s job goes belly up and she takes a temporary position at the veterans’ retreat where Griff works. Now she and Griff can’t stay out of each other’s way—and their entanglement keeps getting messier—and hotter. Worst of all, it’s getting harder and harder for Becca and Griff to lie to themselves about what they really want…
Why you should read it: Oh how I love Ms. Bell! And I have a particular fondness for this series too. All of the books in this series deal with some pretty hefty issues such as PTSD and both physical and mental trauma. At NO point did it feel inauthentic, or as though there was an agenda behind the plot. It’s good storytelling – making you care about these characters for their humanity. I have read some books set in the military world and some have been good, and others have basically read like recruitment campaigns. This series has neither sought to glamourise, nor demonise the military, it has been a significant part of the story, but the connections between the characters are human ones. I connected to these characters because I responded to their vulnerability and their search for love. I loved Becca and Griff because they have no clue what they ultimately want out of life, or how to get there (Hello! I hear you!). They’ve both been through periods of difficulty, and are keen to move on with their lives, but are unsure how. Their attraction and their relationship grew at a steady pace and I enjoyed the realness of it. Griff is a good guy – he’s not an alpha, and he’s not a jerk, he’s just trying to get his life back on track and avoiding heartbreak if he can. Becca has also been through the mill, but she’s not sitting around having a pity party. She is trying to go get her life. She also has her head firmly screwed on. I can’t tell you the number of books I read by women authors that seek to slut shame other female characters in the book – this was not a part of this storyline and I was so thankful that Becca actually calls it out at one point in the book! I want to read more characters like this!
What you may not like: I’m not too sure – this book is low on angst and manufactured drama – if you’re used to elaborate scenarios and engineered plotlines to create endless misunderstandings between the characters, then this may not be the read for you. There is some interference from well-meaning but overbearing family members, but that’s the extent of it! I enjoyed this book for its lack of drama for drama’s sake – it was engaging and real and that’s what I needed.
Rating: 5/5 for a sweet, sexy and funny read. I loved it. Hope you do too.