Friday, June 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Hold Me by Anna Zaires

Hold Me_1600x2400
4.5 Stars
“There’s no need for words. I saw her, I wanted her, and I took her.”
That’s how Nora and Julian’s story started in Twist Me. Here’s where the story concludes.  Hold Me picks up where Keep Me left off.  It continues the psychological journey that Julian’s abduction of Nora sparked for the both of them while introducing new obstacles for them to overcome.

There more role reversal again this time, though of a different nature than in Keep Me. While Julian toys with his good side:
“…the emotion I felt was so foreign that I didn’t recognize it at first. It was joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.”
Nora wrestles with her bad side:
“I know it’s ironic that the man who brought all the darkness into my life is helping me cope with it, but it’s been that way from the beginning.”
Nora remains a fully cognizant captive heroine, always evaluating her situation, questioning the dichotomy of her existence—her life before and after Julian; and this allows her character to grow and evolve rather than exist as a one-dimensional female victim, not that Nora’s character ever was, even in book one.   
“Nora’s middle-class sensibilities are clashing with her instincts. She knows what society dictates she should feel, and it bothers her that the actual emotions she’s experiencing are quite different.”
Nora encounters moments of self-loathing; Julian expresses emotions of guilt, regret, and love? Julian’s character in this final installment exhibits a deeper range of emotions than we've seen before while still keeping his hard, dangerous, sexy edge that readers and Nora feel in love with. 
“I know exactly how cats feel when they play with mice; this kind of thing is fun.”
In subtle scenes and through twists of the plot, controversies such as Stockholm Syndrome, Nora and Julian’s sexual first encounter, and Julian’s initial intentions are all addressed and perhaps finally put to rest. The questions raised in this book concern the future of Julian and Nora’s relationship when the past started out as it did.  
“I want to believe in the illusion of his caring, in the mirage of his twisted love, and so I let the dark memories fade, leaving me in the brighter present.”
As with the previous books, Hold Me delivers an engaging story, Nora and Julian’s romance pulling you into the pages, despite its dark nature.  There’s plenty of erotic scenes, emotional scenes, a few heartbreaking ones, and sufficient twisted humor moments to make a roller coaster ride.

The previous book whetted my appetite for more interactions between Julian and Nora’s parents, and this one delivers on developing the Leston’s as characters and exploring their responses to Julian and Nora’s situation. 
“Seeing Julian in my parents’ house is a bit like encountering a wild tiger in a suburban mall—it’s bizarre in a scary way.”
The only drawback for me came in the later half. While the climax/violence of the previous books fit with the background plot of Julian’s profession, the enemies this time felt a little too coincidental and slightly contrived, though the action scenes no less exciting. The “fall out,” though handled well, left me disappointed alongside Nora and Julian. (Trying really hard to keep this spoiler free.) I understood how the plot-point operated to get Nora and Julian to a point where they needed to be to move forward as partners, yet I still felt cheated on reading about their next stage in life. It felt a little like book three ended at a similar place as book 2 with future life events still unseen.

None the less, it's still a really good story, and I feel that fans of Nora and Julian will enjoy it and be happy with the tone of the ending. 

Amazon US    Amazon UK    B&N    Kobo   iBooks    Goodreads 

If you haven’t started the series yet, no better time to 1-click now! Here's my praise of the previous titles.

#1 Twist Me remains my favorite! I loved how perfectly it ended, setting up book 2 yet still giving it a bit of a feel of a standalone. You could stop there but you’re so engrossed in Nora and Julian that you’ll want more.  I loved the suspense aspect of this book. Though all three books have twists, this appeals to the mystery lover in me as well. At times I wasn’t sure what to think and for that it wasn’t predictable and kept me on my toes….and up late at night reading ;-) 

#2 Keep Me definitely delivers on giving more of Nora and Julian, developing both their characters and their relationship.  I loved how this saga continued to twist perceptions, making Nora become stronger despite and possibly because of her captive status. That’s deliciously twisted and amazingly refreshing.  And it’s a rare find. Many captive stories present either weak, victimized heroines or brazen ones that come off reckless rather than strong.  Nora instead shows acts of strength while still enlightening us with her inner monologues of fear and confusion that keep it real.

~About the Author~
anna zairesAnna Zaires fell in love with books at the age of five, when her grandmother taught her to read. She wrote her first story shortly thereafter. Since then, she has always lived partially in a fantasy world where the only limits were those of her imagination. Currently residing in Florida, Anna is happily married to Dima Zales (a science fiction and fantasy author) and closely collaborates with him on all their works. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics, Anna spent eight years on Wall Street analyzing stocks and writing research reports. In 2013, she became a full-time author, pursuing her lifelong dream of writing romance novels.  Dima Zales is the love of her life and a huge inspiration in all aspects of her writing. Every book Anna writes is a product of their unique collaborative process. In addition to reading and writing, Anna enjoys drinking tea (coconut oolong, anyone?), watching addictive TV shows, and discussing book ideas during long walks with her amazing husband.

She loves hearing from her readers, so please don't hesitate to contact her through her website or connect with her on Facebook, where she hangs out way too often. Also, please visit her husband and collaborator, Dima Zales, at and check out their fantasy & science fiction books.
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Read the blog's previous interview with Anna Zaires: HERE

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