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Holding Out
Serena Bell. Jelsba, $3.99 e-book (308p) ISBN 978-1-73289-483-9
Bell’s fourth Returning Home contemporary (after To Have and to Hold) provides a super-steamy pairing of heartsore protagonists struggling to put their painful pasts behind them. Becca Drake, 24, is determined to reinvent herself from an insecure child into a confident, self-assured woman. Part of her transformation includes losing her virginity, but she can’t find any man capable of helping her out, until she remembers her brother’s best friend. Divorced Army veteran Griff Ambrose has pledged never to lose his heart again, but he’s willing to consider Becca’s request, not least because he can’t stand the thought of some other guy touching her. Then she starts working alongside Griff and his friends at a retreat for veterans with PTSD. Forced into close quarters, Griff and Becca find their one-time arrangement developing into a consuming passion. Though Griff’s PTSD is more described than felt, both protagonists demonstrate real emotional growth, making their journey together as personal and profound as it is pleasurable. This sultry novel packs a surprising emotional punch that will please both the author’s fans and newcomers. (BookLife)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/26/2019