Review: Hold On Tight (Returning Home, #1) by Serena Bell

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3.5 stars

I read the blurb for this book and immediately knew that I had to read it. I love books about soldiers, I love books that include kids, and I love a second-chance-romance, so I couldn’t resist the combination of all of that potential in one book, and this is a really sweet story.

Mira and Jake met when she was 18 and he was 20. He had just completed bootcamp, and they started seeing each other in the few weeks before he went off on deployment. But knowing that he needed to concentrate on being a soldier and not wanting to leave anybody behind, it ended badly. Mira was left heartbroken and it wasn’t until weeks later that she discovered she was pregnant, and with no details about Jake’s deployment or even his real name, she was unable to find him.

It’s now 8 years later. Mira has just made the move from where she and her son have been living with her parents in Florida, to Seattle where she was raised. She’s desperate to be out from under the wing of her well-meaning yet controlling father and is working to create a good life for herself and her son, Sam. Jake is home from the war following an IED blast that took his leg and killed his best friend. Shattered from the loss and not knowing what to do with his life, he unexpectedly runs into Mira, and then his world is turned upside down when he learns that he has a 7 year old son.

Jake isn’t in a good place in his life, and is initially overwhelmed by the news about Sam, but he reaches out to Mira in an effort to get to know the little boy, and from the very beginning it is clear that Jake and Mira’s attraction to each other is still very much there. The chemistry sizzles every time they’re together and despite their past and the uncertainty in their lives, neither of them are able to deny it.

“I don’t think we do simple. We do complicated.”
“We’re older now. Smarter.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t think so. I think we make each other stupid.”
He was in her space now, backing her up. She could feel the heat of his body. Smell soap and musk, which called to the most primitive part of her brain: You want this.
“Fine,” he said. “Let’s be stupid.”

I love the interactions between these two! Fun and flirty, the banter is fantastic, and despite how complicated they believe it to be, they are honest about how they are feeling, and I loved that.

“It’s just holding hands,” she said. “But it’s totally messing with me.”
“Yeah.” He moved his fingers between hers, and that, too, he felt everywhere – all over the surface of his skin.

“I’ve had sex that isn’t this good.”

But as much as they are attracted to each other, and as perfect at their reunion may appear to be, they have both changed a lot in their time apart. Mira has just come out of a long term relationship, has moved across the country and is working hard to find her feet, create a whole new life for herself and Sam, and prove her independence. And Jake is a mess, his life’s dream is no longer a possibility for him and he has no idea what to do with himself. He’s also adjusting to life with only one leg and struggling under the guilt he feels over the death of his best friend. He’s not in a good place emotionally, and though he wants to explore a relationship with Mira, he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for her or for Sam.

It’s an angsty, emotional and frustrating journey with a lot of back and forth as they work through their issues, and while I could understand what they were going through, I did have some issues with this one.

I love Jake and Mira together, I could feel the emotion between them, and the scenes where they are spending time together or just talking are beautifully written and totally engaging. And the sex scenes are really well done – totally hot while showing the emotional connection between them and further developing their relationship. I also thought that the scenes with Sam were fantastic! He’s such a great little character, and his contribution to the story added a lot of lightness to the story as well as being meaningful and beautifully emotional.

The book is written in dual POV, which I love, but I felt that there was too much time spent inside of the characters’ heads. I get that they have issues they need to individually deal with, but I got a bit bored with the constant ruminating about everything they were feeling and slowly coming to realise. And it’s hard to follow written dialogue when one character asks a question and you have pages of inner monologue to get through before the other character responds. I found myself flicking back and forth a few times to remember what they were even talking about.

I also had some issues with continuity anomalies, and I did raise my brows at some of Jake’s behaviour.


But all of that soul searching leads to some great character development, and I enjoyed watching both Jake and Mira figure out what they want and then work towards making it happen. And of course there is a happy ending with an epilogue that finishes off the story really well and left me with a big, cheesy grin on my face.

So yes, I had some issues, but overall I really liked this one. It’s the standalone beginning of a new series, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more.

3.5 stars.


The Returning Home series

Hold on Tight  Can't Hold Back  To Have and to Hold

Hold on Tight (#1)
Buy:  Kindle Ebook

Can’t Hold Back (#2)
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To Have and to Hold (#3)
Buy:  Kindle Ebook


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