AJ's Reviews > Holding Out

Holding Out by Serena Bell
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really liked it
bookshelves: arc, drama, friends-to-lovers, romantic, series-standalone, soldier, steamy

4 stars!

I loved this book. A friends-to-friends-with-benefits-to-lovers romance that is fun, sweet and heartfelt with fantastic characters and a sexy and emotional love story, I was completely hooked!

This is book #4 in the Returning Home series, but you can read this as a standalone. The characters from previous books all appear as the main group of friends, but you don’t have to have read their stories to enjoy this one.

Becca is the younger sister of Alia from book #2, Can't Hold Back. She had a difficult childhood, she struggled at school and she never really felt good enough. She has pushed past that though, and has created a good life for herself. There’s just one problem – she’s 24 years old and still a virgin, and that is becoming a barrier in her love life as her virginity either scares guys away or attracts weirdo fetishists. So she’s on the hunt for somebody to help her pop her cherry without drama so that she can hopefully move forward and find a normal relationship.

Griff is a good friend of Becca’s brother-in-law, Nate, and is a member of their close circle of friends. An Army veteran, he battles PTSD, and was left even further shattered when he came home from deployment to find his wife had left him for somebody else. He now wants nothing to do with relationships and enjoys short hook-ups with woman with no fear of relationships or feelings becoming involved.

Becca and Griff are already friends, but when an attraction flares between them, she realises that he could be the perfect man to help her with her situation – he’s gorgeous, he’s a sweetheart, and he wouldn’t make things weird between them. And just being around him brings her body to life like nothing she’s ever experienced. Griff is, understandably, stunned by Becca’s offer but after some intense deliberation he realises that Becca deserves for her first time to be special and perfect, and that he’s just the man for the job. And, of course, there’s the fact that he can’t get the little spitfire out of his head.

He wanted to find out what would happen when the chemistry between them had a chance to play itself out.
It could be epic.

OMG, Griff is so gorgeous! Yes, he’s a bit of a player, but he’s so freaking gorgeous when it comes to Becca. He’s sweet and playful, he puts her at ease and he treats her like a goddess, and he handles the whole thing so beautifully!

“I know you don’t want to make a big deal of it. So I’ll just say this. It’s an honor, okay?”

But their plan for ‘one and done’ is tossed out the window when Becca accepts a job at the veteran’s retreat where Griff lives and works, and they very quickly realise that once is not going to be enough. And so begins a whole lot of hotness as they throw themselves into exploring everything that is brewing between them. And more than just sex, they open up and talk, they learn each other, and they easily and naturally fall into something that neither of them have any desire to stop.

He couldn’t help himself—he kissed her. Her mouth was soft and hot and so, so hungry. As if up to this point, she’d been holding something back, and now she was giving everything to him. He wasn’t sure he could take it. He was going to catch fire and burn up.

It’s passionate and intense, and I fell right along with them as everything began to change.

“You killed my fear of complications. Killed it dead. I want complications with you.”

The character development is fantastic as Griff and Becca expose their hearts and their deepest vulnerabilities with each other, and support and encourage each other to truly start living their lives. I loved watching things shift and deepen between them, and I love the impact that they have on each other as they grow closer and closer.

But they have a lot they need to deal with, and the demons from the past are not easy to overcome. My heart ached for them through the ups and downs as they sorted through their issues and worked to figure out what they truly wanted, and I couldn’t put my kindle down as it all played out.

It was actually painful to want that. To feel like this again. He was walking on a tightrope and he was going to fall, any minute

I loved this story. It’s wonderfully character-driven, and Becca and Griff both shine as two people fighting hard to move forward with their lives. The sexy time is steaming and the love story is fun, emotional, and so, so beautiful.

4 stars!

An Advanced Reader Copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


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Quotes AJ Liked

Serena Bell
“I know you don’t want to make a big deal of it. So I’ll just say this. It’s an honor, okay?”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“It’s one and done. Just to keep things simple. And clean.”
“Well, yeah,” she repeated. “Don’t flatter yourself, Ambrose.”
That made him laugh. “Oh, honey. Just you wait.”
“Arrogant bastard.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“He wanted to find out what would happen when the chemistry between them had a chance to play itself out.
It could be epic.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“If she’s worth doing, she’s worth doing right.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“It was actually painful to want that. To feel like this again. He was walking on a tightrope and he was going to fall, any minute”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“He couldn’t help himself—he kissed her. Her mouth was soft and hot and so, so hungry. As if up to this point, she’d been holding something back, and now she was giving everything to him. He wasn’t sure he could take it. He was going to catch fire and burn up.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“We have to stop, just for now,” he said. “I don’t like it either. I want to fuck you on that table right there. Right now. But I want to make love to you in my bed more than that.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out

Serena Bell
“You killed my fear of complications. Killed it dead. I want complications with you.”
Serena Bell, Holding Out


Reading Progress

March 29, 2019 – Shelved
March 29, 2019 – Shelved as: waiting-for-release
May 13, 2019 – Started Reading
May 13, 2019 – Shelved as: arc
May 14, 2019 – Finished Reading
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: drama
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: friends-to-lovers
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: romantic
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: series-standalone
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: soldier
May 15, 2019 – Shelved as: steamy

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