Hold On by Kristen Ashley

Goodreads description:

51Lv+2zrhCL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Since she was young, Cher Rivers knew she was not the kind of girl who got what she wanted. A girl who could hope. A girl who could dream. She knew a happily ever after just wasn’t in the cards for her.

In love for years with the last bastion of the ‘burg’s eligible bachelors, Garrett Merrick, Cher worked hard at making him laugh. Being one of the guys. Having him in her life the only way she could. All this knowing he was in love with another woman.

The Merrick Family is known for loving deep. So when Cecelia Merrick was murdered, it marked the Merricks in a way none of them recovered. Both Cecelia’s children found love. Both turned their backs on it. But Garrett “Merry” Merrick knew in his soul the woman he divorced years ago was the one for him.

Until the night when Cher took Garrett’s back and things changed. The Merrick family loves deep. They also protect fiercely. And with his eyes finally open, Garrett sees the woman who truly is for him and he goes after her.

My Take:

I put off reading Hold On.  Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I didn’t want the series to end.  I love, love, love Kristen Ashley’s books and this series was no exception.

Cher is introduced at the very beginning of the series in For You (book 1) and is a somewhat integral character in the Colt/Feb storyline.  Garrett ‘Merry’ Merrick’s story is fully introduced in the third book of the series, Golden Trail. Cher and Merry’s story builds over the course of books four and five as side plots.  This is important because Hold On is hard to read as a stand alone if you aren’t familiar with the back story.  KA does not go into detail on the backstory – she references it and builds on it, but she does not rehash it.

I thought for sure Hold On was going to be about Merry reconciling with his ex-wife because that’s what KA focuses on in the other books. Merry’s ‘one’. Obviously it’s not, it’s about Cher and Merry (I’m not giving away any spoilers here, it’s in the description).  I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out because I was never sure what to think of Cher in the previous books.  She’s not painted in the best light and never comes across as a sympathetic character.  You don’t read her side story and think, ‘oh, she’s going to get a happy ending.’  You get an entirely different sense of her in Hold On as a single mother, deserted by her boyfriend when she was pregnant, struggling to do anything she legally can to support her child.  She’s a much more sympathetic heroine in this book.  She’s still got edge and attitude, but you see the soft, gooey center she keeps hidden from the rest of the world.

As always, Kristen Ashley does a stupendously brilliant job breathing life into her characters.  You fall into their stories and their lives.  You want to meet them, have a beer with them, drive by the businesses described in the book just to see if you can spot their real life counterparts (I know that sounds kind of stalker-ish, but there are Rock Chick tours in Denver…I’m just saying).  You laugh and cry along with the characters. You feel the love and pain and the depth of emotions the characters feel.  It’s just great storytelling. Period.

All that being said, this book was wayyyyy longer than it needed to be.  There was just too much conflict; too many antagonists; too much going on in these peoples’ lives.  Between Cher’s kid’s birth father and his whack-a-doodle wife; Cher’s neighbor; Merry’s ex; and serial killer fan freaks there was just too much.  Something could have been pared down a bit.  Especially given the end plot twist had a lot of similarities with the end plot twist of Sweet Dreams (Colorado Mountain series #2).  I hate to say it because I do honestly love her as an author; it seemed like KA recycled some of the drama from other series’ storylines.

Another thing that bothered me is her male leads have become very interchangeable.  They have the same mannerisms, the same stilted style of speaking, the same alpha-male badassness.  Fans of Joss Whedon (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will also recognize his influence in the colloquialisms she employs in a lot of her dialogue (something I’ve said in previous feedback).  It’s very easy to pick up on when you’ve read a lot of her books, especially any of the series after the Rock Chicks.

I still loved this story. I still recommend Kristen Ashley as one of my all-time favorite authors. Reading Hold On was bittersweet since now I know there are no more ‘Burg stories in the future.

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