Hold On by Kristen Ashley
Series: The 'Burg #6
Also in this series: For You
Publication Date: September 1st 2015
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Since she was young, Cher Rivers knew she was not the kind of girl who got what she wanted. A girl who could hope. A girl who could dream. She knew a happily ever after just wasn't in the cards for her.
In love for years with the last bastion of the 'burg's eligible bachelors, Garrett Merrick, Cher worked hard at making him laugh. Being one of the guys. Having him in her life the only way she could. All this knowing he was in love with another woman.
The Merrick Family is known for loving deep. So when Cecelia Merrick was murdered, it marked the Merricks in a way none of them recovered. Both Cecelia's children found love. Both turned their backs on it. But Garrett "Merry" Merrick knew in his soul the woman he divorced years ago was the one for him.
Until the night when Cher took Garrett's back and things changed. The Merrick family loves deep. They also protect fiercely. And with his eyes finally open, Garrett sees the woman who truly is for him and he goes after her.
This is the final book in Ashley’s The ‘Burg series. I re-read all the earlier books in anticipation of this one, so the details of Merry and Cheryl’s prior meetings, the situation with her involvement with a serial killer and his reluctance to open himself up were pretty fresh in my mind. For those who are just starting this series, I’d recommend at least reading the first book in the series, For You, because Cheryl’s backstory, as related in that book, is very important.
Cher hasn’t lived an easy life. She was wild as a teenager and into her twenties, partying hard and not worrying about a lot. Until she got pregnant and her boyfriend took off with all her money and left her high and dry. She spent years working as a stripper to support her son until she finally met the man of her dreams…who turned out to be a total nightmare. A real live serial killer. After years of dealing with the fallout from that, she’s finally in a good place.
She changed her name and landed a job she loves as a bartender, plus made some really great friends. She’s even willing to test out the relationship waters again. If her kid’s dad is back in the picture causing trouble and she has a massive crush on the one guy who will never see her as anything but a friend, well…she’s a survivor. She’s dealt with worse. Until she spends the night with Garrett Merrick, the friend in question, and he just happens to get wrapped up in her drama with her kid’s dad.
When the Merrick’s love, they love deep and true. And once. Garrett “Merry” Merrick thought his ex-wife, Mia, was The One for him, until he screwed it up by letting his issues mess up his head and end their relationship. His mother was brutally murdered in their home when he was a child – an act his sister witnessed – and none of them (he, his father and his sister) have dealt with it. When Mia gets engaged to another man Merry ends up in the bar getting served too much whiskey – and a good amount of sage advice – by Cher. They’ve been friends for years, but her outlook on his past relationship with his ex really opens his eyes. The fact that they ended up in bed together and she turned out to be so much more than he expected also messes with his head, but when he finds out her ex is trying to fight her for her son, he knows he can’t walk away. Not now. Maybe not ever.
As I mentioned, we first met Cher in book 1. She was dating – and unknowingly helping him terrorize his victims – Denny Lowe, a serial killer who was obsessed with the heroine of that book, February. Cheryl was completely duped by Denny, thinking he was actually Alexander Colton, Feb’s long-lost love and a local cop. Dealing with the trauma of sleeping with a serial killer was bad enough, but being duped into thinking he was something he wasn’t was even worse. Especially since she let him become involved with her son. She was pragmatic, though, and fought to get herself – and her son -back to a good place. I admired her strength and determination. Many might judge her for having been a stripper, and for the way she dresses (she’s described as dressing on the “skanky” side), but at her core she was a good person and I didn’t have a problem accepting her as she was.
There are a lot of things that frustrate me about Ashley’s writing – the over-long descriptions about inconsequential things, the lack of editing, etc – but I keep coming back to her because she excels at drawing the reader into her stories. She has a great talent for bringing her characters, and the world in which they live, to life. I always fall right into them. This was no exception. I loved Cher and her son, and the way she interacted with her friends and family.
Merry has a good support system in his friends and family, but he held part of himself back with them because of the trauma of losing his mom. It was good to see him open himself up to Cher, and to his friends in The ‘Burg. I like the way he immediately fell into Cher’s life and accepted her son.
The mystery portion of the book was silly and over the top, but I’ve come to expect that from Ashley and pay little attention. Which is good since this one was pretty silly.
While there were some frustrating things about the book and it isn’t my favorite of series, I enjoyed the romance and getting to know both Merry and Cher better. His care with her and her son, along with her intersections with her mom, her friends and her son were believable and made the story worth reading.
3.25 out of 5