ARC Review – Holding Out by Serena Bell


Happy Release Day to Holding Out, the fourth book in Serena Bell’s Returning Home series. This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I can honestly say that it won’t be my last. This romance was fun, emotional, and so swoony! I hope you get the chance to meet Griff and Becca.




Published: May 21, 2019

Genre(s): Contemporary romance

Pages: E-book 267

ISBN: 9781732894839






His friend’s little sister has just asked him for a BIG favor. The trouble is, once won’t be enough … for either of them.

The answer has to be no, of course. No way Griff Ambrose is going to help Becca Drake solve her inexperience issues. Not only is she his friend’s sister, but Griff doesn’t do commitment—not since the day he came home from war to find his house empty and his wife gone.

But he can’t get Becca’s request—or pretty much anything else about her—out of his head. What can it hurt, anyway? If it’s awkward afterwards, they can just avoid each other. Right?

Becca Drake has turned her life around, and she’s proud of how much butt she’s kicking. The shy girl with the self-esteem problem has been shown the door, and New Becca’s in the driver’s seat. There’s just one more demon she has to exorcise. Her lack of experience is messing up her romantic life. Guys who might be okay with giving her a test drive act like they’re being auditioned for marriage when they find out exactly what she’s never done.

Griff is the perfect candidate to do the deed: He’s her friend, he’s hot as heck, and neither of them wants anything serious.

Then Becca’s job goes belly up and she takes a temporary position at the veterans’ retreat where Griff works. Now she and Griff can’t stay out of each other’s way—and their entanglement keeps getting messier—and hotter. Worst of all, it’s getting harder and harder for Becca and Griff to lie to themselves about what they really want…




A delightfully heartfelt, wonderfully emotional, and incredibly swoony romance 


Holding Out is a delightfully sweet, steamy and swoony romance that made me smile, filled me with wonderful feels, and undeniably captured my heart.

Becca is done being a virgin. She wants to lose her V-card and sets her eyes on her sister’s ridiculously sexy friend, Griff. While reluctant at first, Griff can’t seem to forget about Becca and soon finds himself unable to resist her request. They make a deal. One and done. But, is it? What happens when they realize they want more?

I love these types of stories. I think they’re funny, seductive, and wildly entertaining. When Serena Bell asked me to read and review this book, I obviously couldn’t resist! The premise for Holding Out sounded so much fun and I just knew I would really enjoy it. And, I definitely did and was simply enamored with Bell’s writing. With a heartfelt storyline, intriguing and lovable characters, deliciously irresistible romance, and so much heart, I easily fell in love with this book and could not stop reading.

Griff and Becca are both a bit protective with their hearts. They have a painful and sad past that makes them both very cautious when it comes to love. It was heartbreaking at times to read about their insecurities and fears, but it was also beautifully real and incredibly affecting. I enjoyed their character development and how they both supported, encouraged, and helped each other. Griff and Becca were a good fit. I loved seeing their relationship become something more and for them to finally realize that they deserve a HEA. I adored them as individuals and loved them even more together. The chemistry between them is sexy, intense, and hot, and I enjoyed every moment.

I really liked the supporting characters. I loved the amazing friendships and how they are all very supportive of each other. They are just so charming and I could just picture myself having dinner with them and playing Taboo. They’re just so awesome and adorable. I’m definitely interested in reading their own stories.

A wonderfully emotional and captivating romance, Holding Out by Serena Bell is truly a lovely read. It’s well-written, absolutely charming, incredibly touching, and so beautiful in many ways. Cannot wait to read more books by Bell and fall in love with her stories.

If you’re looking for a romance that’s adorably funny, steamy, and full of heart, then I HIGHLY recommend you add this book on your TBR.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


© Copyright 2019 Serena Bell
All Rights Reserved

As she approached the range, she saw him with the big bow in his arms, slinging arrow after arrow into the center of the target so they stuck out like bristling porcupine quills.

She hung back, watching. He wore a plastic chest guard and a leather arm guard, which made him look a little bit like some medieval hero. And she wasn’t sure which was more mesmerizing: the clutch of muscle in his back and shoulders, the cords in his forearm, or his absolute laser focus.

She imagined what it would be like to have all that intensity and concentration turned toward her. That precision. That devotion to his task.

Her body warmed and softened in appreciation. Which was unusual for her. She didn’t get turned on looking. She didn’t get turned on that easily, period. She usually needed a lot of warming up.

Except, apparently, when it came to Griff Ambrose.

He reached into the quiver hanging across his body and came up empty.

“Hey,” she called.

He jumped. When he turned, the expression on his face was dark. Angry, she thought.

“Sorry—I didn’t mean to startle you.”

He crossed his arms. “I’ll do it.”


She’d heard the words but couldn’t make sense of them.

“If you still want me to. If you haven’t already enlisted CJ or some other boy. I’ll—take your V-card.”

She felt a huge smile threaten to break out all over her face, but her gut told her to play it cool. She shrugged. “CJ wants to take me out for dinner. He was actually quite the gentleman about asking me on a date.”

His expression darkened further. “No. No dates with CJ. That’s the deal. If I’m going to do this—”

She raised her eyebrows at his grim tone. God, he was making it sound like a household chore. “It’s not like you have to. I told you, I’ll find someone else—”

“God. No. I’ll do it. I said I’d do it. I don’t want you to pick some random guy. Then Nate would really kill me.”

“It’s sex with a virgin—a friend, even—not a death march,” she snapped.

She was aware of an ache in the center of her chest. For a minute there, she’d thought—

But he was just doing her a favor, of course.

He shook his head. Closed his eyes. Then opened them again. “You’re right. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. It’s not a hardship,” he said, then gave a short dark laugh. He took a step forward, touched his hand to her cheek, his thumb moving over her mouth without touching it. An unfamiliar stab of heat shot through her. She wanted to lean forward and take his thumb between her teeth.

That wasn’t her, either.

He took a step back, dropping his hand. “I know you don’t want to make a big deal of it. So I’ll just say this. It’s an honor, okay?”

For some stupid reason, that made her eyes fill up with tears. She blinked, and luckily none of them fell, though he blurred in her vision.

The moment stretched to awkwardness, and she looked away. When she turned back, he was examining the feathers on the end of an arrow.

“You still offering that archery lesson?

“Hell, yeah. Walk with me. We’ll collect the arrows.”

She fell in beside him.

“When you approach the targets, you always need to make sure no one’s shooting. It’s easy right now because we’re the only ones here, but sometimes it gets a little more complicated.”

He tapped the target at the base of one of the bristling arrows. “You want to grab the arrow close to the target face, down low on the shaft,” he said.

She wasn’t someone who heard double entendres everywhere. Or at least she hadn’t been, before playing Taboo the other night with Griff. Something about him wrapped everything up in sex. Add to that the fact that he’d actually agreed to have sex with her—

Yeah. She was thinking about shafts. And grabbing them down low. She could feel her cheeks getting pink, and she cursed the fact that she blushed so damn easily.

Were words supposed to do that? Creep under your skin, down your spine, along your nerve endings? Were they supposed to light you up like a Christmas tree?

While she’d been getting wet over skinny sticks with feathers on the end, Griff had pulled the arrows from the target, collected them in a fist, and turned back up-range.

She followed him back, suddenly wishing she’d said something. Some brilliant sexy teaser about how she always liked to grab low on the shaft. Something provocative enough to make him drop the arrows, take her in his arms, and kiss her until she couldn’t breathe.

She’d never been kissed till she couldn’t breathe, but she suspected Griff could have that effect on her.

“Stand here,” he said, toeing a sandy spot on the ground. “This is the foot marker.”

He gave her an arm guard and showed her how to strap it on. “You don’t really need a chest guard. It’s just to make sure the string doesn’t catch on your clothes. If you were hunting or fighting it would be a bigger deal.”

He stood behind her. “Is this okay?”

“Is what—?”

He wrapped his arms around her so that the bow was in front of her and lifted her left hand to the grip. She was hyperaware of his body behind hers, solid and hot.

He showed her how to nock the bowstring into the cleft at the end of the arrow shaft.


Not a word she’d ever heard used. Or used herself. Or contemplated. Not a word she would have said was sexy. But with him standing just behind her, his breath against her ear, his hands guiding hers, it was a word that could lick itself right into every last cleft on her body.

If she turned around right now—

But she couldn’t. The way they were standing, and the bow in her arms, froze her in place.

“And then you draw it back, tight—”

He wrapped his hand around hers, drawing her fist back, and the string with it. Now she made herself focus on the bow and arrow, because it was taut in her arms, and it didn’t feel like something to mess around with. Its contained energy was fierce.

Like the man behind her.

“See this?” he said, and he drew the arrow back a little further, until his fingers brushed her mouth.

It was difficult to breathe.

“This is called the kisser button. For obvious reasons. You use it to get alignment with your mouth at full draw. You line up on the gold—that’s what we call the center of the target. You sight it over the top of the grip. Right where the arrow head is aimed, see? And then you let it fly. Release it. Okay. I’m going to let go. You keep the tension on.”

He unfurled her fingers from around hers and stepped back, taking his body heat with him and leaving the full strength of the bowstring in her fist. Her arm muscles trembled—maybe from the pull of the string, or maybe not.

“Let go,” he said.

She released it. The arrow flew and lodged itself with a hiss in the target. Not anywhere near the center, but still.

She stood there a moment. Her hands and arms still felt shaky. Hell, her whole body felt shaky.

“Nice,” Griff said. When she turned to look at him, his gaze was steady on her face. His eyes seemed to bore into hers.

“Now you just need practice.”




USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.


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Thanks for stopping by loves! I hope you enjoyed reading my review and add this lovely book on your TBR.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!


ARC Review – Happily and Madly by Alexis Bass


Hello lovelies! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Today, I have my review for Happily and Madly by Alexis Bass.





Expected Publication: May 21st 2019

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: Hardcover 352




Maris Brown has been told two things about her destiny:

1. She will fall happily and madly in love.
2. She could be dead before she turns eighteen.

The summer before that fateful birthday, Maris is in the wealthy beach town of Cross Cove with her estranged father and his new family–and the infamous Duvals. Since the youngest member of the Duval family, Edison, is back from college and back in the arms of Maris’s new stepsister, her summer looks to be a long string of lazy days on the Duval’s lush beach.

But Edison is hiding something. And the more Maris learns about him, the more she’s given signs that she should stay as far away from him as possible. As wrong as it is, Maris is drawn to him. Around Edison, she feels truly alive and she’s not willing to give that up. Even if it means a collision course with destiny.




Not quite happily or madly satisfied, but it’s an interesting story


Happily and Madly by Alexis Bass didn’t make me madly in love with the story or happily satisfied with everything. I’m actually quite conflicted with this book. I was intrigued in the beginning and there are things I liked, but in the end it just wasn’t the book for me.

Maris Brown is not a character I would say I loved and could relate to, but she’s also not someone I dislike. In many ways, my heart broke for her and everything she’s been through and is still going through. On the other hand, I sometimes didn’t care about the consequences of her actions. I felt that she doesn’t try to avoid putting herself in situations that inevitable hurts her. I don’t want to go into her character development too much, but I was really frustrated with Maris that sometimes it took precedence over me feeling bad for her. I mean, I understood why she acted the way she did and I could feel her pain… I just wanted her to make different choices… better choices.

The other characters didn’t really impress me either. Although I thought Edison (Finn) was intriguing, I just didn’t like him that much. He’s mysterious and had this charm about him, but it just didn’t personally work for me. I liked Chelsea more than I thought I would, but I still felt uneasy about her. I liked that she tried to include Maris and it seemed like Chelsea really wanted to be close/friends with her step-sister. I just couldn’t quite understand her fascination with Edison, his family, and this picture perfect version of her happily ever after.

I didn’t like the romance aspect at all. It was flat, infuriating, and I felt no emotions. That’s most likely because I couldn’t connect with Maris or Edison and at the end, I just didn’t care about their relationship. If anything, I was quite annoyed.

Having said all that, I did enjoy the mystery, suspense and twists which kept me intrigued until the end. I thought the writing style was easy to read, the pacing was okay, and the plotline was engaging enough. And, even though it seemed a bit rushed, I did like the ending.

Overall, Happily and Madly was an interesting read. While some parts felt slow, the mystery part had me thinking and wanting to know what would happen next. It’s just a bit disappointing that I personally couldn’t connect with the story or characters. It may not have been a book for me, but I’m sure this would appeal to plenty of readers.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



(Bio and photo taken from the author’s website/goodreads)

alexisbassAlexis Bass grew up in Washington, went to college in Arizona, and spent her early twenties in Seattle. She currently lives in Northern California with her husband and a gorgeous and rambunctious golden retriever, Dylan McKay. She loves good fashion and good TV as much as a good book, and is a huge advocate of long beach vacations.


Her novels, LOVE & OTHER THEORIES and WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US (HarperTeen), are available wherever books are sold.


She is repped by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.




Thanks for stopping by loves!  Have you read this book? What did you think?