Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can't Hold Back by Serena Bell

In this tender military romance from the bestselling author of Hold on Tight—perfect for fans of of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery—a war-shattered veteran gets a second chance at love with the one that got away.

No girl can resist a man in uniform—especially if that man is Nate Riordan. But after an injury in the line of duty leaves Nate broken, body and soul, the soldier finds himself addicted to his pain meds, with no place to call home. Desperate for an escape, Nate reluctantly accepts a friend’s invitation to a new veterans’ retreat. Expecting a little R&R, Nate is shocked when the sight of his physical therapist opens up another old wound: heartbreak.

Years ago, Alia Drake fell hard for Nate, but never made her move. Instead, she set up her sister with the sexy, confident military man, a foolish decision that continues to haunt all three of them. Now, with Nate as her patient, she can make things right—even if it means getting too close for comfort. A healing touch and a little honesty work wonders, fueling a physical intimacy that crosses professional boundaries. This time, with desire in the air once more, Alia won’t hold anything back.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I loved Bell’s writing in her second-chance romance Turn Up the Heat, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read another of her books to find out if it was the book that I enjoyed or the author’s writing in general. I’m pleased to say that I found Bell’s writing to be just as enjoyable in Can’t Hold Back as I did in Turn Up the Heat. I devoured this book, reading it in one sitting because I had to know if Nate and Alia could move on from the secrets in their past.

The prologue introduces us to Nate and Alia, and while Alia doesn’t see it, it was clear to me that Nate’s interest was in her and not her sister. But Alia has plans, one being that her sister finds a good man who can be there for her and even though he’s in the service, Nate seems like a good candidate. So Alia takes one for the team, so to speak, and steers Nate toward Becca. Fast forward two years and we find that Alia has finished her physical therapy degree and is working with injured veterans, using proven yet less-mainstream techniques to relieve their pain and help them through the rehabilitation process. Well, it’s a temporary gig as she covers for her friend and former classmate, Jake, for two weeks while he’s on his honeymoon, but she’s hopeful that if she can prove her worth, that he’ll offer her a permanent position. There’s just one catch. Nate is coming to the retreat and the history between him, Becca, and her makes for a hella awkward situation. Yep, that’s where I got hooked because Bell doesn’t reveal exactly what happened to cause Becca and Nate’s relationship to go bad, but she reveals just enough that I knew Alia was involved to a point and she had TONS of guilt over it. My interest was piqued further when Nate attempts to blow off his sessions with Alia and she won’t let him, no matter how uncomfortable she is in his presence. Her determination to help Nate is driven in part by guilt over what happened, a need to prove she can be a professional, and the belief that she can help Nate learn to deal with his pain. But it quickly becomes obvious that her attraction to Nate has not waned over the years and she begins to question whether or not she can maintain her professionalism.

As someone who works in a field with strict codes regarding patient-provider relationships like those Alia was faced with, I felt for her. She was in an unenviable position because of her past relationship with Nate (even if Bell takes her time doling out all of those details). Her attraction to Nate predates their professional relationship, yet she beats herself up mentally when the close contact with Nate reignites that attraction. In real life, I would never encourage a therapist to cross that line. But in Can’t Hold Back, I was cheering her on. I wanted her to take a chance with Nate because as I learned what happened, it was clear that they belonged together. Even with Nate’s plans to help his squad mate’s family, I wanted to see her risk it all for Nate, because they both needed that happiness, no matter how fleeting. Besides, they had no chance of a future otherwise. Of course, this didn’t keep my heart from breaking for the two of them when Nate left the retreat, but I had faith that the author would make it all work out in the end. And the end was even better than I imagined. I loved this book and look forward to going back and reading Hold On Tight so that I can get Jake’s story and have an excuse to reread Can’t Hold Back.

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people sometimes do stupid things, and how love can make it all better. She wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two school-aged children.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Can't Hold Back (Returning Home #2) by Serena Bell to read and review.

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