Hold Me Close
Harlequin Mira (US & UK: 24th November 2015; AU: 1st December 2015)
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CONTENT WARNINGS: Abduction, child abuse, sexual abuse, statutory rape, miscarriage.
SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers. If reading on Goodreads, they’re behind a cut. If reading elsewhere, they’re out in the open.
Until now, I didn’t realise how much I include publishers as part of an author’s brand. But in the case of Megan Hart, I automatically add her Harlequin Mira (and before that, Harlequin Spice) titles to my wishlist. I’m not interested in her Harlequin Nocturnes, and her Penguin Berkley books weren’t for me.
The author has upcoming publications scheduled with Chaos Publishing (her self-publishing arm), Samhain, Macmillan Swerve, and Montlake. So I’m hesitant to add those to my wishlist, because I kind of only want to read the ones in the vein of her Mira books. Which probably makes me a terrible person, picking and choosing instead of wanting it ALL😉
So for the unforeseen future, Hold Me Close may be the last Megan Hart book with Harlequin Mira. And this is a heart-wrenching number. In case the content warnings don’t give it away, this book is DARK. With a happy ending, though, so romance fans will be fine unless you don’t like to read about soulmates rooting other people.
It’s the attention to detail that makes Hold Me Close so good, namely Effie’s issues with food. Because of various things being put into her meals and drinks during the three years she was imprisoned, Effie’s reluctant to eat anything that she or a loved one hasn’t prepared, or food she can’t see through. She drinks a lot of “clear cola”, which I’ve never seen in real life but I don’t live in the US.
Yet with all the grim stuff going on, the ending seems relatively…easy? The kidnapper conveniently dies, so there’s no big final confrontation. The kidnapper’s child fills in the details as to why Effie and Heath were taken, and why Heath was forced to do sexual stuff and Effie wasn’t. (Which seems bollocks, because if you want a teenage girl to remain “pure”, it doesn’t make sense to trap her in the basement/cellar with a slightly older guy for three whole years.)
So had they not been through such trauma together, would they still have had such a strong bond? Would they find better matches with other people? Effie and Heath each try to have relationships with others, but they end up together, so hooking up with other people was…time-wasting? Delaying the inevitable? It just isn’t a satisfying answer for me. Maybe because of the statutory rape. (If you want to argue that statutory rape “isn’t really rape”, please take your monologue elsewhere. It’s at the very least creepy, and an abuse of power.)
Even though I don’t agree with…well, a lot of things in this novel, I heartily recommend it.