Genre: Romantic Suspense
POV: Multiple POVs in the 3rd Person
Violence: Some but pretty tame
My Grade: DNF
As far as I’m concerned, Stephanie Tyler’s Hard to Hold would have been more aptly titled Hard to Finish. I can’t in all conscience assign a grade to this book because I started skimming from page 214 before reading the final chapter properly.
On a positive note, I know Hard to Hold is the sort of romantic suspense beloved by many readers. I can see why it’s popular. Unfortunately, it represents precisely the sort of romantic suspense which rarely works for me.
Before I start listing my problems with this book, here’s a brief summary of its premise: Hard to Hold is the first book in a trilogy which will be published back-to-back over the next couple of months. Lieutenant Jake Hansen and his two foster brothers, Nick and Chris, are all Navy SEALs. They’ve survived some tough times together, both while they were growing up and in the line of duty. When they rescue Dr. Isabelle Markham, an American hostage in Africa, Jake feels a connection which he’s never experienced before. The circumstances surrounding Isabelle’s kidnap are such that her ordeal is not yet over once she reaches American soil. Taking a position as a military doctor – ostensibly for her own protection – Isabelle is pleased when Jake is assigned as her bodyguard. Naturally, sparks fly and Isabelle and Jake fall in love. But before they can find happiness, they have to survive the evil machinations of Isabelle’s captor.
The basic set-up is fairly typical romantic suspense fodder and bound to appeal to many readers. I prefer my romantic suspense to be dark and gritty, and this certainly isn’t. It’s reminiscent of Suzanne Brockmann’s style in the sense that the story is told from multiple points of view, complete with the odd flashback. Whereas Brockmann usually confines herself to a maximum of four POVs, I stopped counting the number of POVs in Hard to Hold once I’d reached eight. I don’t respond well to multiple POVs, particularly in a book which is only 370 pages long and which is supposed to be a romance novel. By the time I’d read thirteen chapters, I was confused as to who everyone was and why I should care. Jake and Isabelle’s romance felt like one subplot among many. Admittedly, I stopped reading properly after page 214, but from skimming the rest of the book, I didn’t get the impression that this changed later in the story.
Jake and his two foster brothers seemed terribly clichéed. What’s the likelihood of all three becoming SEALs? Seriously? Also, their father, Kenny is a rock band-managing psychic. Yep, try wrapping your head around that one. I wasn’t sure how that fit into the context of this story, but I’m sure it’ll become more relevant in Chris’s book as he’s Kenny’s biological son and has inherited his father’s abilities. Isabelle wasn’t a bad heroine but I never felt I got to know her well enough to really care what happened to her.
I struggled to read this book. From skimming the second half of the story, I didn’t get the impression I’d missed much by not continuing. If you like Romantic Suspense Lite, and can cope with head-hopping, this book might be for you. As you can see from the other reviews I’ve linked to below, my opinion is in the dissenting minority. I know I won’t be continuing with this trilogy.
Other Books in this Series:
Too Hot to Hold (05 January 2010)
Hold on Tight (26 January 2010)
Other Reviews of Hard to Hold:
Dear Author – B-
Lea at Closetwriter – Desert Island Keeper
Pearl’s World of Romance – 9.7 out of 10
Book Binge – 4 out of 5
Avid Book Reader - C