Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Review of “Hold On Tight” (Returning Home, Book One) by Serena Bell

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5 out of 5 beautiful, sexy, heart-warming stars

I posted about this book a couple of days ago, to help get the word out about its release. Then I had a chance to actually read the book. YOU GUYS, this book is amazing! It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! I am lucky enough to be on Serena Bell’s ARC team, and was thrilled to be able to read this book so I could share it with you. The most exciting thing about this book, and the others in this series, is that it is a re-release, as Ms. Bell is now an INDIE author. I’m even more excited to be a part of her team now, because indie authors need even more support than the garden variety. 🙂

Now, I am a sucker for second chance romance. I also love a well-written story about a military hero, having grown up as an Army brat. I’m a big fan of the single parent, being one myself, and while I usually gravitate toward the hot single DAD books, I like to read about a single mom working hard to be all things to her kids, while also finding some time to take care of herself.  Lastly, I can occasionally be found reading a secret baby romance, although it’s not my favorite trope. Hold On Tight has all of these!

Here’s a quick synopsis by the author herself:

“Hold On Tight is the story of Jake—a guy who comes back from war, broken in body and spirit, to discover that he has a kid he never knew existed and a baby mama he’s been trying really hard to forget. It’s also the story of Mira, a single mom who has been working her butt off to hold all the pieces together, and does not need the complication of being attracted to a man who got her pregnant and disappeared off the face of the earth. Aaand, it’s the story of Sam, who—well, he’s seven, and just trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together, especially in light of the fact that his mom told him that his dad was a sperm donor.”

Jake and Mira had a very short, but passionate, relationship 8 years ago, and their paths are about to cross again. Jake is a war hero. Not only that, he’s a wounded war hero, who is back home after a devastating experience overseas. Mira is a single mom, who just moved across the country, and away from her parents, to prove that she can take care of herself and her 7-year-old son. What will happen when Jake finds out he has a son? How will Mira deal with Jake’s reemergence into her life? Will she tell her son, Sam, that Jake is his dad?

I adored Sam. This kid had a heart of gold, and he was not afraid to ask the tough questions. Have you heard the saying, “…and the little child shall lead them”? Sam is that child. I started reading one of the chapters, and when it started out, it made me think it was going to be from Sam’s POV.  It didn’t turn out to be, but I thought to myself, “How freaking great would that be, to get a chapter from a child’s own perspective???” It’s definitely something I have not seen before, and didn’t know I’d love until that moment.

I loved this book. LOVED. I’d read another military hero book recently, and it was pretty bad. It wasn’t realistic, and it was very light on the facts. I don’t know what experience Ms. Bell has with military life, but I found her descriptions to be very authentic. Jake had experienced some very harrowing things while he was deployed, and he had a very difficult time dealing with the challenges of life back home. It all felt very real and honest.

I’ve also come to realize over the past few years that sexy times must be REALLY difficult to write, because some authors just aren’t very good at it. Serena Bell, let it be known, is NOT one of those authors. Her sexy times are off-the-charts hot. It’s possible that I enjoy them so much because I’m really rooting for her characters and I want them to have good sexy times, but I don’t think so. She’s just really good at writing super sexy scenes, which at no point make the reader pause and say “wait…what?”

I’m very excited about book 2, Can’t Hold Back, because it’s not just another book in the series, it’s a continuation of sorts. We meet the main characters, Nate and Alia, at the end of Hold on Tight, and it appears we will also be able to follow Mira and Jake (and Sam!) on their continuing journey.

If you like military heroes, or second chance romance, or secret baby stories, or indie authors, or all of the above, PLEASE go buy this book. I will definitely be bringing you reviews of the other books in this series, as they are released. I hope you love Jake and Mira’s story as much as I did!

Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

Pre-order Can’t Hold Back

Pre-order To Have and To Hold

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release: Hold on Tight (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE) by Serena Bell

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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…

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“Sweet, sexy and real . . . In Hold on Tight, Serena Bell has written a beautiful story about a wounded soldier and the woman strong enough to love him.”—Jessica Scott, USA Today bestselling author of Because of You

“The authenticity of their story is resounding. This isn’t a story of instant love, but of an uphill battle and determination, of making decisions, and of living in the here and now.”—Heroes and Heartbreakers

“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.”—The Book Hammock

“Just a beautiful, and yet not overly emotionally weighted, story of two people fighting their way out of a life they were dealt, toward a life they choose wholeheartedly. This book left me feeling warmed, encouraged, bolstered and full. Phenomenal writing by Serena Bell.”—Ripe for Reader

“I was completely swept away with the characters, story and the writing.”—Twin Spin

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EXCERPT

On the other side of the room, the cocky guy with the prosthetic leg shifted in his seat, drawing her gaze. Brown hair, on the longer side of short, uncombed. A couple of days’ unshaven scruff. Not her type; she liked professional men, clean-shaven. Her mind was about to dismiss him—a guy I ran into in the physical therapist’s office and wasn’t attracted to, but not because he was an amputee, just because he wasn’t my fantasy. But something made her look again.

Holy shit. She knew that face. The strong jaw, the well-formed upper lip, the deep groove that ran vertically between his brows—

She’d memorized his features in the few weeks they’d been together, the quick three-quarters way he smiled, like he couldn’t quite fully commit to happiness, the all-in truth of his smile when he gave himself over. The creases that formed when he frowned, the way his jaw set when something bothered him. That night at the lake—the last night—the look on his face when she’d taken off her clothes. Gratitude and longing and Who, me? For real?

The night came back to her in sharp contrasts, pairs of impressions. The coolness of his wet skin and the heat of his body. The softness of his mouth moving over hers, over her breasts, and the hard tug of his suckling, the yank of desire she’d felt. The rich summer smells, green and overripe, and the clean soap scent of him. How open she’d felt, how boundary-less, melting, flowing, willing—and how her body had betrayed and frustrated her.

How good he’d made her feel, better than she’d ever felt in her life, and the way he’d hurt her. The way they’d dressed, packed up, and driven home in silence. How hard she’d cried, and for how long.

Jake.

His eyes caught hers, caught and held and held and held. Sam’s gray-blue eyes, Sam’s full lower lip, Sam’s absurdly long eyelashes. Jake’s face.

Would Sam someday have a jaw like that, square and strong? Would his nose, which was still a little boy’s pudgy upturned nose, be as bladelike as his father’s?

How many times had she promised herself that if this moment ever came, she wouldn’t hold the truth back from Jake?
Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo credit Susan Young

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.

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