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Released: June 12, 2015
Series: A Modern Fairytale #2
“I was completely sucked into their world.” ~ Under the Covers
Katy Regnery’s Never Let You Go is a loose retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale, in keeping with the theme of her Modern Fairytale series. This is book two, but the installments are not related in any way and I hadn’t read book one when I jumped in here. Regnery is another new author for me and I LOVE being floored by talent that I hadn’t been familiar with before. Holden and Griselda were kidnapped from their foster family when they were 10 years old and forced by a fanatical and evil man to live in captivity as Seth and Ruth in the wilds of West Virginia. While they are not brother and sister biologically, The Man has delusions that they are, and that somehow Ruth is capable of tempting Seth into a type of adulterous relationship. They suffer unthinkable physical and psychological abuse (NOT sexual FYI), perform hard labor, and live in daily fear that The Man will one day end one or both of their lives. Holden and Griselda spend three years in captivity and come to develop a deep love for one another, including feelings that start to transcend the platonic. They make a plan to escape, but heartbreakingly, only Griselda is successful. She is forced unwillingly to leave Holden behind and when she returns with help, all signs of Holden and The Man are gone. Fast forward ten years, and Zelda, as she is now called, is in an abusive relationship working as a nanny for a family and child she adores. But she’s never given up hope of finding Holden. She’s made it her life’s mission to find him. A chance meeting brings them back together and the full force of their love and loss coming crashing down. The question is whether they can survive the trauma of their reunion.
I LOVED THIS BOOK. It actually took me a week to read, mostly because I could tell that SUPER angst was on its way by about 50% in and I wanted to stay in my happy place for a while, even if I knew an HEA was on the other side. Neither Gris nor Holden are living happily before they are reunited. I felt deeply for both characters and connected with them. Gris doesn’t believe herself deserving of love after abandoning Holden all those years ago and Holden, for reasons that will be elaborated, thinks Gris is dead. Regnery’s writing of their reunion is incredibly beautiful without being sappy or trite. I was completely sucked into their world. They have an undeniable sexual pull that leads to some pretty epic and erotic sex, though the book isn’t dripping with scene after scene. The anticipation was killing me slowly. It also seemed that the author knew that area of the country well, as I found the dialog and backdrop of poor, rural Appalachia to be done very well. The hopelessness, the pockets of religious extremism, the drug addiction, etc. were all very authentic and believable. Holden is one of those broken characters who become angelically beautiful, a ring fighter by night who unleashes his rage at the world with his fists.
I wanted to live in Griselda and Holden’s happy place forever, but they had to go through some serious trials to get there. As if they hadn’t been through enough. I can’t spoil it here, but there’s a bomb dropped at about 57% that sends you reeling. I can’t say that I wasn’t pissed at Gris for stepping back and forcing Holden to deal with the circumstances at hand. I think what saved me from full on rage was their commitment to each other and their hope that things would eventually be ok. I do not enjoy books where characters who have an epic love walk away from each other for reasons of pride, jealousy, or even misguided self-sacrifice (my LEAST favorite). Maybe I’m not that good of a person, but you’d better believe that if I found that kind of love, nothing could keep me away, even to others’ detriment. This book rode a fine line that tipped the right way for me. Regardless, I applaud the way the author made these characters stand on their own before they stood together, even if their plans would not have been my own. Be prepared for a wild ride to the end though and a few decisions that might turn readers’ heads. I could see it rubbing people the wrong way, but I could understand it as realistic to the circumstances. Never Let You Go has absolutely made me a fan of this author and I’m excited to go back and read the first book in the series as well as a new installment coming out later this year.
This girl. Everything about this girl made him want, made him long, made him yearn to change his life, start his life, finally live his life after a decade of going through the motions. He wanted to get a better job to take care of her. He wanted to stop fighting because she disapproved of it. He wanted enough money to have every tally mark lasered from his arm. He wanted some sort of guarantee that she’d never, ever leave him again. And he wanted all of it now. Yesterday. Ten years ago, and every day since.
Standing up slowly, he let his body settle into an upright position before taking his time crossing the hall to the bathroom and then heading out into the common room.
She stood at the stove with her back to him, her feet bare, her hair in a ponytail, the mouthwatering smell of fried chicken filling the entire cabin with goodness. Holden leaned against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest, a grin taking over his face as he watched her.
“It’s just the thought of you—the very thought of you, my love,” she sang, using a fork to transfer a golden leg to a paper towel–covered plate.
As she reached forward to turn off the stove, some of the leftover grease in the frying pan spat up at her and burned her wrist.
“Ow!” she yelped. “Damn it!”
With a sudden rush of adrenaline, Holden crossed the kitchen in two strides. He turned on the faucet and grabbed her arm to thrust her wrist under the cold stream. He held it there, wincing at the red blotch developing on her white skin. When he lifted his eyes to hers, she was staring at him with a surprised, curious expression.
“It’s just a little burn.”
He shrugged, still holding her arm, staring down at the burn.
“You were asleep,” she said.
“You were singing.”
“You remember that song?”
He slid his palm down her arm to cradle her wrist from below.
“The stove’s still on,” she said.
Without dropping her hand, he took a step closer to her, reached around her waist with his free hand, and flicked the burner off.
“I made fried chicken,” she said softly, her cheeks flushed.
“I can smell it.”
“You like fried chicken. I mean . . . you must have mentioned it to me a hundred times when we were—”
“It’s still my favorite.”
They were both silent for a few seconds, and Holden knew he should drop her hand and step away from her, but he couldn’t. She’d hurt herself doing something kind for him, and it just about shredded his heart.
Just another moment, he told himself. A few more seconds touching her and then I’ll move away.
“Sorry about the singing,” she whispered, unmoving, her breath kissing his throat.
He jerked his neck to face her, his thumb curling into her palm, his eyes searching hers for mercy.
“I loved it,” he murmured.
She stepped forward, closing the distance between them, her lips parting, her breasts grazing his chest through his T-shirt as she stared up at him.
“Holden, I . . .”
Every breath she took seemed to draw him closer to her, as if she was breathing him, not air. He leaned forward, into her, his free hand reaching for hers.
“Griselda . . .”
Her eyes, dark blue and churning, flicked to his lips, lingered there, then slid back up his face and seized his.
His self-control snapped.
After all, he was only human.
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