Category: military men romance

Holding Out by Serena Bell

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.

 

Blurb:

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.

 

Buy links:

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Amazon

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Apple

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Kobo

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Nook

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Google

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Goodreads

https://serenabell.com/r/HoldingOut-Bookbub

 

 

To Have and to Hold by Serena Bell

THTHguyv2-768x1187Book: To Have and to Hold

Series: Coming Home #3

Author: Serena Bell

Re-release date: 23 April, 2019

Main characters: Trina Levine, Hunter Cross

 

Basic story: Trina Levine has been counting down the days until Hunter, the man she’s been waiting a year for, would return from his deployment. She’s been holding the fort at home, looking after his daughter Clara, and her own daughter Phoebe.

It soon becomes startlingly clear that Hunter is not the same man who made her promises of a life together. He barely recognises her at the airport and even then it’s only as the mother of his daughter’s friend. Hunter’s injuries are clearly not all physical.

Trina is torn – should she tough it out and patiently wait for Hunter’s memories to return, or pack herself and Phoebe up and move to California – where a new job beckons and Phoebe can finally meet her absent father?

Hunter had no idea he was missing chunks from his memories until he saw disappointment in Trina’s face when he failed to recognise her. Unable to deal with her pain and his, he distances himself from her. However, it soon becomes apparent that Trina’s presence is indispensable to his family, and maybe to him too, if he’d just let himself trust his instincts.

Why you should read it: I’m a huge fan of the Coming Home series. Each story has been smart, sensitive to issues such as PTSD and combat trauma, and also sexy as hell. This one is no exception. Trina is a down-to-earth, courageous heroine, rising to the occasion and being strong enough for both her heart and Hunter’s. She has no time for navel gazing and gets on with making sure her family is secure. Hunter is damaged but he is interesting, kind and oh so sexy. I loved their story and think you might too.

What you might not like: It was a gentle read, and a short read. You may like your books with a bit more drama and angst. If so, this is comparatively tame. There’s plenty of passion here, and no baddies. For me, it’s a relief to read a story steeped in reality.

Rating: 4/5 for a well-crafted welcome addition to a great series. To Have and to Hold is out today.

Can’t Hold Back by Serena Bell

Book: Can’t Hold Back

Series: A Returning Home Novel #2

Author: Serena Bell

Re-release date: 26 March 2019

Main characters: Alia Drake, physio who adores her job and helping others; Nate Riordan, ex-servicemen with a host of demons that need to be slayed.

Plot: Alia Drake thrives on nurturing others and being needed. Her job as a physical therapist is something she excels at and she feels she can make a real difference in the lives of her patients. When she has the opportunity to work at R&R, a veterans’ rehab centre, she jumps at the chance. Even the prospect of treating Nate Riordan isn’t about to put her off her dream job.

Nate Riordan has returned from service battered, both physically and mentally. Struggling with a pain-medication addiction, he can’t deny he needs help any longer. When he arrives at R&R, he isn’t prepared to come face-to-face with Alia – the girl who helped wreck his romantic dreams the year before. He may be unable to trust her, but if he’s going to manage his constant pain, he will have to put his hostilities on hold, if only temporarily.

Alia is determined to reach him and help Nate connect with the pain. This means facing some hard, painful memories and also dealing with the fact that their shared history is far from over…

Why you should read it: I inhaled this book on a wet Sunday afternoon, and it was time well spent! Serena Bell writes some seriously smart, funny and sexy stories. They always hit you right in the gut without being too drama filled or ridiculous. Nate and Alia’s story was sweet, realistic and sexy as hell. Alia is a level-headed heroine who needs to face her own demons. It’s good to see her gradually let go of her issues. Nate is hot! He’s sensitive, hot, well-rounded. Hot. (Ok, you get the point.) I honesty couldn’t put the book down until I finished.

What you might hate: Nada – this is a military romance – so I guess if it’s not your thing, then that may be an issue. I don’t read a lot of stories set in this world, but the ones I have read are so well done that I enjoyed them immensely. It’s a very human story, set in a world that felt authentic.

Rating: 5/5 – for a thoughtful, romantic and insightful story. Definitely recommend it!

Cover reveal: The Returning Home series by Serena Bell

Hey! I’ve got a little treat for you today. Serena Bell is back and she’s re-releasing her hit books in the Returning Home series. Enjoy!

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Aren’t they beaut? Good news for those of you who’ve already read these books. Book 4 will be out in May 2019! I can’t wait!

BLURBS

HOLD ON TIGHT (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE)

A wounded soldier. A secret baby. A second chance.

Jake Taylor has made a few terrible decisions, but none worse than the one in Afghanistan that cost him his best friend and his leg.

Or so he thinks, until he comes home from war to discover a seven-year-old son he never knew existed.

Jake can’t regret the blissful nights he spent with Mira in his arms, or the boy with his eyes, but he can leave them alone so they don’t become yet another one of his mistakes.

He’ll rehab his body, figure out how to find purpose again—and keep things simple with the woman he once craved desperately.

Except the sizzling attraction that drew him to Mira is still fierce, and staying away from her is a lot harder than he ever expected…

Mira Shipley has promised herself that if she ever sees Jake Taylor again, she’ll tell him he has a son.

She isn’t expecting to run into him at the physical therapist’s office, where he’s learning to live with an above-the-knee amputation.

She can’t blame him for being a grumpy jerk under the circumstances, but it would be a lot easier to ignore him if she didn’t desperately need child care for her son.

And if Jake didn’t make her feel brand new and dazzlingly alive.

She knows she needs to protect her son’s feelings—but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t forget the long, sweet nights she and Jake spent learning each other’s bodies and each other’s secrets…

CAN’T HOLD BACK (RETURNING HOME, BOOK TWO)

A love triangle gone wrong. The power to heal his pain. And a second chance for both of them.

Nate Riordan came home from war hurting—everywhere.

Alia Drake can touch him and make it all better.

Nate craves her touch, and not just the professional, physical therapist version. But he needs to keep his eyes on the prize and his feet firmly on the path he’s chosen: His buddy, J.J., died, and Nate lived, which means he has promises to keep. Plus, Alia hurt him once, and he’s afraid she’ll do it again.

Alia knows she has to ignore her feelings for Nate. Her job is to take care of him professionally, so she has to keep her hands on the parts of him she has a right to touch. Besides, when she lied to him two years ago, she forfeited any claim she could ever have to his heart.

Now she just has to find some way to stick to her guns, leave him alone, and do her job. Even—or especially—when he’s shirtless on the table in her office…

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (RETURNING HOME, BOOK THREE)

He doesn’t remember her. She cherishes every moment of their time together. Is there any hope for a second chance? 

Hunter Cross has lost a year. There’s a gap in his memory, and the woman who is living in his house has disappeared into it. He slept with her, fell for her, loved her—and he doesn’t remember any of it.

He knows he should send her away—except for one little thing. At night, when she creeps into his bed, his body remembers hers.

Trina Levine is heartbroken, alone with her memories. Hunter won’t claim any of it—not the joyful days, not the steamy nights. Nothing. It’s like Trina Levine dreamed it, and it hurts like nothing else could.

Except when Hunter cries out in his sleep and Trina comforts him. At those moments, Hunter’s body knows hers, and for a few, brief, blissful moments, Trina’s sure everything will be okay again.

Until morning comes.

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Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Book: Off Base

Series: Out of Uniform #1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Main characters: Zach Nelson, Navy SEAL struggling to accept his sexuality. Pike Reynolds, a mutual friend who, beneath the cheery facade, just wants to love and be loved.

Blurb:

After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

Why you should read it: I’ve read this series completely out of sync, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Each book, (see On Point and At Attentionis a self-contained story featuring a different navy SEAL and the object of their affection. This book was probably the more angsty of the series as it dealt with a character not yet ready to deal with who he is. It was very poignant and also quite realistic in its depiction. Not everyone has the joyful coming out, it can get messy and loved ones can be alienated due to their own reasons. It was enjoyable and moving and I think is a good opener to the series. The chemistry between Pike and Zack grew slowly and I liked how they evolved from a timid friendship into more.

What you may not like: It is quite heavy in places – not going to lie, and the start was quite slow, but it soon picked up and became a story I grew to like more and more.

Rating: 3.5/5 for a thoughtful and absorbing read.

On Point by Annabeth Albert

Two muscular men embraceBook: On Point

Series: Out of Uniform #3

Author: Annabeth Albert

Release date: 5 June 2017

Main characters: Maddox Horvat, the best sniper of his unit, with a soft side. Ben Tovey, his roommate, best friend and inconveniently, the object of Maddox’s affection.

Blurb: Never fall for your best friend… Pushing thirty, with his reenlistment looming, decorated navy sniper Maddox Horvat is taking a long look at what he really wants in life. And what he wants is Ben Tovey. It isn’t smart, falling for his best friend and fellow SEAL, but ten years with Ben has forged a bond so intimate Maddox can’t ignore it. He needs Ben by his side forever—heart and soul.

Ben admits he likes what he’s seen—his friend’s full lower lip and the perfect muscles of his ass have proved distracting more than once. But Ben’s still reeling from a relationship gone to hell, and he’s not about to screw up his friendship with Maddox, too. Until their next mission throws Ben and Maddox closer together than ever before, with only each other to depend on. Now, in the lonely, desperate hours awaiting rescue, the real challenge—confronting themselves, their future and their desires—begins. Man to man, friend to friend, lover to lover.

Why read it? This is a great series – there’s zero stupid, manufactured drama for drama’s sake, yet it’s a little angsty, the characters are a little unsure of themselves and the story was very exciting. I enjoyed getting to know Maddox and Ben – they balanced each other and brought out the best and at times the worst in each other. Their character development was just right in my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Their chemistry is one of the sexiest things I’ve read in a long time – and it wasn’t in a hurry to get to the finish either.

What might you not enjoy? If you like insta-love and a race to HEA then this book may frustrate you a little. I don’t like my HEAs sewn up too quickly, but some folks do. Other than that, it was an engaging, entertaining and really romantic read.

Rating: 4/5 for a thoroughly enjoyable tale and trusting someone and having the courage to take that leap of faith.

To Have and to Hold by Serena Bell

Book: To Have and to Hold

Series: Coming Home #3

Author: Serena Bell

Release date: 19 July, 2016

Main characters: Trina Levine, Hunter Cross


Basic story: Trina Levine has been counting down the days until Hunter, the man she’s been waiting a year for, would return from his deployment. She’s been holding the fort at home, looking after his daughter Clara, and her own daughter Phoebe.

It soon becomes startlingly clear that Hunter is not the same man who made her promises of a life together. He barely recognises her at the airport and even then it’s only as the mother of his daughter’s friend. Hunter’s injuries are clearly not all physical.

Trina is torn – should she tough it out and patiently wait for Hunter’s memories to return, or pack herself and Phoebe up and move to California – where a new job beckons and Phoebe can finally meet her absent father?

Hunter had no idea he was missing chunks from his memories until he saw disappointment in Trina’s face when he failed to recognise her. Unable to deal with her pain and his, he distances himself from her. However, it soon becomes apparent that Trina’s presence is indispensable to his family, and maybe to him too, if he’d just let himself trust his instincts.

Why you should read it: I’m a huge fan of the Coming Home series. Each story has been smart, sensitive to issues such as PTSD and combat trauma, and also sexy as hell. This one is no exception. Trina is a down-to-earth, courageous heroine, rising to the occasion and being strong enough for both her heart and Hunter’s. She has no time for navel gazing and gets on with making sure her family is secure. Hunter is damaged but he is interesting, kind and oh so sexy. I loved their story and think you might too.

What you might not like: It was a gentle read, and a short read. You may like your books with a bit more drama and angst. If so, this is comparatively tame. There’s plenty of passion here, and no baddies. For me, it’s a relief to read a story steeped in reality.

Rating: 4/5 for a well-crafted welcome addition to a great series. To Have and to Hold is out on 19 July.

Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid

ninjaBook: Happily Ever Ninja

Series: Knitting in the City, #5

Author: Penny Reid

Release date: 19 January, 2016

Review by: Onnica

 

Blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband – the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer – is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone – Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Except…not.

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

Why you should read it: I have been waiting ever so patiently for a new Penny Reid release and wasn’t disappointed. Her books are always quirky, well-observed and downright funny, but this one really took me on a journey I did not see coming! I was expecting a domestic story about a heroine who is in danger of fading away under the daily grind of drudgery. Instead, I got taken on a mission to another continent, which included danger and adventure along the way. At the same time, we got a clear picture of a marriage in trouble – the fact that marriage can’t thrive on love alone. It takes WORK. It was smart and I found myself identifying with some of the issues in the book.

What you might not enjoy: Greg is hard work – he is so convinced that he’s right all the time that I wanted to thump him! For such an intelligent man, he can’t see what’s in front of him. His wife is struggling and he isn’t helping the situation. That’s the point of the story: he’s partly to blame, but so is Fiona – the two of them need to make changes if their relationship is to survive. It was a very thought-provoking read.

Rating: 4/5 – for a smart, real look at a marriage under the microscope – it kept me guessing and by the end of all the drama, I felt an immense sense of relief!

Love was never enough, not without mutual respect and a great deal of drudgery and effort. And even then, it wasn’t enough. Wanting each other, being open to change, pushing each other to improve and grow – for the better – working to deserve each other, was the key.

Can’t Hold Back by Serena Bell

canthold back

Book: Can’t Hold Back

Series: A Returning Home Novel #2

Author: Serena Bell

Release date: 15 December 2015

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Alia Drake thrives on nurturing others and being needed. Her job as a physical therapist is something she excels at and she feels she can make a real difference in the lives of her patients. When she has the opportunity to work at R&R, a veterans’ rehab centre, she jumps at the chance. Even the prospect of treating Nate Riordan isn’t about to put her off her dream job.

Nate Riordan has returned from service battered, both physically and mentally. Struggling with a pain-medication addiction, he can’t deny he needs help any longer. When he arrives at R&R, he isn’t prepared to come face-to-face with Alia – the girl who helped wreck his romantic dreams the year before. He may be unable to trust her, but if he’s going to manage his constant pain, he will have to put his hostilities on hold, if only temporarily.

Alia is determined to reach him and help Nate connect with the pain. This means facing some hard, painful memories and also dealing with the fact that their shared history is far from over…

Why you should read it: I inhaled this book on a wet Sunday afternoon, and it was time well spent! Serena Bell writes some seriously smart, funny and sexy stories. They always hit you right in the gut without being too drama filled or ridiculous. Nate and Alia’s story was sweet, realistic and sexy as hell. Alia is a level-headed heroine who needs to face her own demons. It’s good to see her gradually let go of her issues. Nate is hot! He’s sensitive, hot, well-rounded. Hot. (Ok, you get the point.) I honesty couldn’t put the book down until I finished.

What you might hate: Nada – this is a military romance – so I guess if it’s not your thing, then that may be an issue. I don’t read a lot of stories set in this world, but the ones I have read are so well done that I enjoyed them immensely. It’s a very human story, set in a world that felt authentic.

Rating: 5/5 – for a thoughtful, romantic and insightful story. Definitely give it a shot!