Friday, January 8, 2016

Can't Hold Back - Serena Bell

"All at once, he got what she meant. There was a kind of holding in his chest, and he could let it out, like a breath. It felt like a flower unfolding, one petal at a time. Because right here, here was how badly he craved one of those little white pills he’d flushed down the toilet. And right here, here was how scared he’d been ninety percent of the time in Afghanistan, and the time he’d felt safest had been the time he’d been least safe. And right here? How much he wanted one more chance to give J.J. shit. And how goddamn much it sucked Braden couldn’t go on a fucking kayaking trip with his fucking father and had to accept Nate as a shitty substitute — “
It’s okay,” she was saying. 
A tear slid down the side of his face into his ear. That wasn’t his, was it? In his chest, something was thawing and breaking up like an iceberg. Oh, fuck, no. No fucking way. He swiped the back of his hand across his eyes. 
“Accept whatever comes up. Say yes to it.” 
“Shut up. Shut up.” 
“Yes, anger. Yes, grief.” 
“Shut up, Alia.” 
“Yes, to whatever is there–” 
“Alia!” He sat up and grabbed her arms, shook her. “Shut the fuck up and get up here and let me kiss you. Okay? That’s all. That’s what I say yes to. Just–Just–” Then she was in his arm and her mouth was on his and yes, this." - Can't Hold Back 

  Rating: 4 Stars
Published: December 2015
Many thanks to Netgalley and Loveswept Publishing for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Alia gave sexy, smart military man Nate Riordan to her sister years ago, even though there was an odd feeling in her stomach and in her heart. Then, she helped screw it all up and the effects of that decision effect all three of them to this date. Hoping for a spot on staff at her friend's veteran's retreat, R&R, Alia agrees to cover Jake's role as physical therapist for the veterans. Little does she know, Nate's accepted his friend's offer to spend some time there after quitting pain management meds cold turkey. What starts as just PT soon brings both their emotions back to life and neither wants to hold back.

Okay, I really don't need another book boyfriend, but I'll make room for Nate. I happen to be dating an Army veteran myself and Serena Bell did an amazing job of writing the character of Nate and his history. The detail in this book is amazing, there had to have been a lot of research completed to make Nate, and the other veterans, as realistic as they were. I felt like I could see Nate, I could see his body shape, him wincing in pain, and the moments when his eyes lit up with ideas of sexual pleasure. I genuinely enjoyed reading from his POV, even when he was working through hard memories of his time overseas. Our heroine isn't so bad either, Alia thinks of herself as ordinary when she is anything but. I liked how realistic and down-to-earth she was, as well as how giving she was without even realizing. I get exhausted of characters who are so into themselves, it was really nice to have a character who didn't even own up to her own needs. Plus, her kindness is what makes this book all workout. Nate and Alia have some of the best dialogue, even when it dealt with the rough subjects, both about the past relationship and war, the dialogue felt real and when it was heating up, woo don't get me started on that.

The story between Alia and Nate isn't one I have read before, part love triangle and part cat-fishing. Their breakup is pretty devastating and I could completely believe why both Alia and Nate would think they wanted nothing to do with one another.  While I am not normally one for people/characters dating their sibling's ex, this one just works. The way the characters both open up to their vulnerabilities and lean on one another will convince you that they are meant to be. On top of that, I really appreciated that Serena Bell didn't give us someone getting in between their relationship, no villain, but gave us situations that caused differences. Nate's desperate to help his friend's family after he passed away, during the same explosion that injured Nate, and Alia can't put anything before her career. The way Serena had the characters deal with the issues of ethics and broken promises really convinced me of her writing skills. There are also some incredibly well written secondary characters that bring a lot more realism into the story, you'll be just as convinced as I was that this could be real life, it could easily be people you know.

This book had everything I look for in a romance, there's second chances (I know, I'm addicted to them), personal growth, family, a book boyfriend, and a realistic plot line. While this book is part of a series, Returning Home, it can be read as a standalone. I personally am going back to read the first one right now and I'm going to cross my fingers that we get a book for Alia's sister, Becca.

Post a Comment

© Carlene Inspired. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.