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New Release Review! TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Serena Bell (Returning Home #3)

To Have and to Hold
by Serena Bell

Synopsis:

In this emotionally charged novel from the bestselling author of Hold on Tight (“Sweet, sexy, and real.”—Jessica Scott), a war hero fights to remember the love he left behind—and the woman who refuses to fade away.

The reunion is supposed to be the start of the rest of their lives. But when Trina Levine sees the soldier she promised to love forever, Hunter Cross looks at her like she’s a stranger. The connection is gone, lost in the blank stare of those soulful brown eyes. Hunter remembers his young daughter but not Trina, and he certainly can’t recall why Trina and her own child are living in his house. Although his lean, rugged frame bears the scars of battle, his mind took the worst hit.

But Hunter Cross hasn’t forgotten everything. His body remembers caressing Trina’s delicate curves, holding her close, never wanting to let go. Was it just a dream, or was it real life? Now, as he tries to put the pieces back together, Trina’s the one who comforts him when his night terrors strike. It’s Trina whose warm touch rekindles a connection no man could deny. Even with the odds stacked against them, Hunter wants to believe. Because passion has the power to awaken the past—and remake the future.

 

Review:

OMG. So. Good!

I honestly had a hard time putting this one down–except during the parts where things got totally intense, when I really needed to take a break and decompress…and even then, I was back about thirty seconds later, unable to wait and see what was going to happen next.

“I know my feelings, and they’re not going to change.”

Gah! Remember that line…because it takes Hunter a really, really long time to.

This has got to be one of the best–if not the best–uses of the amnesia troupe out there. Poor Hunter doesn’t even realize for quite some time that he has holes in his memory–his brain has developed such a clever loop that he believes everything is hunky dory (except for the brand new, impressive scars he’s sporting) until he gets home and finds that life is not quite as he thought it was. His mom has a new boyfriend he should remember, but doesn’t. His daughter has grown and changed more than a year’s worth of growing and changing. And his dead wife’s good friend and her daughter have moved into his home…and he doesn’t remember asking them to and can’t imagine why he would have.

Seeing things from Trina’s POV is heartbreaking–it took so much for her to trust him in the first place, when everything in her was screaming “Don’t do it! Men leave! Love doesn’t last!” and having it all torn away just as she’d started to depend on them? Devastating.

Seeing things from Hunter’s perspective isn’t any easier to read either, because not only is he confused as heck about what’s going on and totally frustrated, he’s also practically drowning in guilt–guilt over his former wife, guilt over missing chunks of his daughter and mother’s lives, and guilt over the pain he can see he’s causing Trina.

And then there’s the girls–Hunter’s daughter Clara and Trina’s daughter Phoebe–they were already BFFs before Hunter left, and now they’re more like sisters than ever. Hunter and Trina’s estrangement tears them apart too, in more ways than one.

I wasn’t sure Ms. Bell was going to be able to fix this situation…but holy cow, did she ever. It. Was. Brilliant.

I may have cheered. And cried, just a little. There may also have been a bit of spontaneous clapping.

Definitely my favorite of the series so far. If there’s going to be a fourth (and there is a single guy hanging around our Returning Home heroes, so I am optimistic!) it has a lot to live up to 🙂

To Have and to Hold is the third in the series, but it would work well as a standalone. The heroes and heroines from books 1 and 2 (Hold on Tight and  Can’t Hold Back) do play small roles, but if you haven’t read their stories yet you won’t be at too much of a disadvantage.

But your TBR will probably grow by at least 2 more.
4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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