Saturday, June 14, 2014

{ARC Review} Hold On Tight by Serena Bell

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult
Publication Date: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Loveswept
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Provided by Netgalley

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.

My Review:

Being a patriotic American I have a soft spot for our nations military, If it's a hot guy in uniform that spot is due south betwixt my legs HEY-O! *clears throat* Seriously though, stories featuring soldiers make some of the best books especially when the characters are wounded veterans. That's just one of the many things that attracted me to Hold On Tight but the ultimate reason I wanted to read this is because I love the secret baby plot device. I'm not really sure why I love this as much as I do, maybe it's because it sort of pre-ordains the characters' fate and you don't have to stress too much if they'll be together. With that out of the way you can make room for the path that lays ahead of your characters and enjoy the bumpy ride watching them reconcile.

Jake and Mira were just kids when they met during his leave after basic training in the Army. He was looking to blow off steam and she was looking to defy her father who held strict control of her life and do something rebellious for once. A week of becoming acquainted was more than Jake set out to accomplish but he found himself drawn to Mira and opened himself up. Mira's intentions to rebel with a summer fling also turn into a deeper attraction and during a night together planning to lose her virginity she confesses her feelings for Jake. Under strict directions from his commanding officer not to get involved with anyone, as is typical for some guys in the military to come back from leave married, Jake let's her down gently which in turn break her heart and the two part ways. 8 Years later a chance meeting in a physical therapists office brings them face to face.

As a reader I love awkward situations and the one Jake and Mira have after not seeing each other for years was a jackpot moment for me. Both characters have changed significantly and are much older than they were the last time they were together. Jake has been fighting in Afghanistan after 9/11 stirred up his will to protect the country and as a result has lost his leg. Mira is nursing a seven year old child with a knee injury when the two meet again leaving her no choice but to confess that her son Sam is Jake's child.

 His nonchalance towards her about Sam at first pissed me off but there was an underlying trauma in him. It goes much deeper than just losing his leg when you find out he lost a good friend and the depression of such an experience has shut him down. Even though he was a cantankerous curmudgeon bastard, I loved Jake and with every glimpse into his life felt my heart ache for him. He didn't have the best life growing up with alcoholic and sometimes violent parents for role models so I understood his stance on marriage and children being something he never wanted. On temporary medical leave due to his injury his depression has gotten so bad he's not really living, spending his days watching the clock and drinking just enough to be numb but not enough to become like his father. This was something I could understand about Jake because my father is an alcoholic also and I'm always conscious of not becoming the same way. Seeing Mira again and finding out about Sam is exactly what he needs to wake him up and chase away his despair.

Getting past the part where Mira lost her virginity I couldn't understand how that night resulted in the conception of their child because it was such a botched and comical attempt they basically didn't have sex. When it was explained that, although the briefest contact without protection can result in pregnancy, it is rare but that's all it took for these two. Growing up being raised in a single parent household I knew how Mira felt after Jake disappeared having watched my mother do the same thing. Barely 18 Mira had to abandon her dreams of becoming an art major when she found out she was pregnant and moved back in with her parents to raise her son. It takes strength and determination to raise a child alone and for Mira to be a young mother at 18 was something I instantly admired about her character. Granted she had help from her parents raising Sam it was still a brave thing to accomplish. The new job she took in Seattle is what ultimately brings her back into Jake's life. not just an amazing mother she's an amazing woman having searched for years to try and find Jake to tell him about her son. I love love love that she searched for Jake so hard. It wasn't drawn out into details but several times she has flashbacks about trying to locate him with no luck. That made me love her characters so much more.

The condition Jake was in after his amputation was hard to think about because it brought into my mind all the wounded veterans that are out there. Bell wrote a character that you could root for and fall in love with despite his gruff exterior. Along with the loss of a limb Jake has had to relearn every basic thing we normally take for granted. Like balance. Just simply bending to tie your shoes or picking your child up were things Jake had to carefully calculate in order to do in his new condition. The way Mira was so patient and loving with Jake while he was getting to know Sam was something I was happy to see but the patience she showed with him once they reconnected was the main thing I was looking forward to. They have a lot to work out between her family and the life she was living plus Jake's emotional state of mind. The strength between them and the bond they shared not to mention how deeply they have grown together leaves you with zero doubt that they can't overcome the obstacles in their way. Hold On Tight was emotional and made me fall in love over and over again with these two and that is one thing Bell does perfectly. The characters she writes are so real and down to earth and just normal people you can connect with.

A strong single mother any woman can relate to and a wounded hero you just can't help but love, Hold On Tight is a great read with some really steamy romance and tender feels. Everything was so well written from Jake's struggle with depression that affected his sex drive to his relationship with Sam. Even watching him slowly regain his dignity and self worth back was priceless to experience with this broken guy. I just loved every minute of it. I've never been disappointed by this authors books and with each new set of characters I grow more fond of her. If you haven't read any her work before you can't go wrong with any of Bell's stories but this one, I think, is my favorite so far.


~ And maybe, as much as he didn't want to admit it to himself, because it felt good, feeling something again. It felt good, wanting her. Letting himself think about what it would be like to crave, to grasp, to bury himself - fingers, tongue, dick - in her. To get himself back and give himself away again in one swift purge. eARC 11%

~ She waited. Because she knew there was more. Because she could see it in the coiled, angry set of his shoulders, in the rage behind his eyes. Because she knew - she wasn't sure how - that he hadn't said these words to anyone before, and that his saying them to her was the beginning of something that mattered. To her. To him. eARC 31%

~ "Dude," she said. "I already think you suck at sex. What's the worst that could happen - you can't get it up?" eARC 63%

About The Author:
Photo credit: Susan Young Photography

Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people do stupid things sometimes, and how love can make it all better. She wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two. When she’s not writing or getting her butt kicked at Scrabble by her kids, she’s practicing modern-dance improv in the kitchen, swimming laps, taking a long walk, or reading on one of her large collection of electronic devices.
Serena blogs about reading and writing romance at and She also tweets like a madwoman as @serenabellbooks and posts to Facebook at



Available for Pre-order


  1. Ah, a virgin! At least her first time was good and memorable. Sigh, HEA babies

  2. I like military hero and secret baby books too! This sounds so good, glad ya liked it!


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