Note: I basically have two review modes for less than positive reviews. I will either give a book this kind of review because it's dog shi! and nobody should read it or because it just does not suit my personal taste. In this case, it's the latter. I can't personally say I loved this book but i can see how some people who are picky in different ways than me might enjoy it. I'm not abdicating my reviewer responsibility, I'm not afraid to say nobody should read a book, that just isn't my honest opinion in THIS case.
Holding Strong is about Cherry and Denver overcoming their misconceptions of one another and then surviving an external threat to Cherry which challenges their developing relationship.
I can honestly tell you that I hated the first 20% of this book. The opening scenes turned me off so much, I put this book down for two weeks before coming back and trying again. I don't want to spoil anything but the language of the opening scenes was like eating something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
First, Denver refers to Cherry as "girl" and instead of going away, it becomes an actual thing in the book. For example "You're tense from head to toes, girl. Take a deep breath." I expect my girlfriends and male friends who are more like my girlfriends (if you know what I mean) to call me girl. In no way do I find a man calling a woman who he is romantically interested in "girl" sexy. Just, no.
Second, beyond that one specific thing is the other language in the beginning of the book just struck me as very outdated high school. Another example, Denver tells Cherry "...your BOD, your attitude...drove me nuts." I was like, I'm sorry, did you just say BOD? Dude, Saved By The Bell called and they want their word back! (Another note, an erection is referred to as a boner....by an adult...).
Last, there are several references to women being gossipy and petty. That might be true, I can't speak for all women (hint hint author) but the thing that bothered me was that the MEN in the book seem just as "gossipy and petty" as the women. The author never points out that fact though.
Ok so you're probably wondering why I still say I can see this book being a good choice for some readers. Well, not everything I just talked about bothers everybody. To me those are individual quirks that you might not share. Also, after I picked this book up after the first 20%, I found myself holding my nose at some of the language but enjoying the story. There was too much information about the background of the MMA league in the book that I just didn't care about but I really liked reading about the other fighters. In fact, if Ms. Foster writes about Armie and Vanity, I will probably try those books (God please let the "girl" references die a quick death). The story eventually developed a good pace and I actually got into the plot line.
The angst in the relationship is a little too drawn out for my taste. Cherry is that typical poor female heroine who doesn't want to accept anything from Denver even though she needs help. We see that a lot and it's a bit boring and irritating to me. Denver is also a little typical in his desire to protect Cherry and sometimes that ish can cross into creepy paternalism that isn't sexy. Speaking of sexy, I give the sex scenes in this book a thumbs down. They just weren't well described but again, some people are not as nasty as me and don't care.
Summary: This book triggered too many of my personal hang ups for me to enjoy it but if you're ok with what I've discussed here, give it a try. I will actually give this author another chance. I'm interested to see what she does with some of the supporting characters from this book.
**ARC provided by Publisher**