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Saturday, December 7, 2013

ARC Review: Mine to Hold by Cynthia Eden

I’ve said before that Cynthia Eden does dark romantic suspense and possessive-but-still-likeable ├╝ber-alpha heroes like nobody else, and she proves that she’s in top form with the third instalment of her self-published Mine series, MINE TO HOLD. This is my favourite entry in the series so far, a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride that will keep you guessing until the very end delivered with Ms. Eden’s trademark intense, highly-polished writing and scorching heat. MINE TO HOLD picks up right where the previous book, MINE TO KEEP, ended, and whilst it is a complete story and there are enough references to the events of the previous books to ostensibly make MINE TO HOLD a standalone, this is a series that is definitely best read in order.

Obsession is the name of the game in MINE TO HOLD, with heroine Claire Kramer’s high school lover serving a life sentence for murdering her parents when she broke up with him, his father ensuring that her past catches up with her every time she gets a fresh start, a stalker dogging her every move, and playboy billionaire with a dark past Noah York determined to make her his. The plot is somewhat similar to Trace Weston and Skye Sullivan’s story arc in the previous entries and I won’t delve into it to prevent spoilers, but Ms. Eden delivers a perfectly paced read fraught with tension that will keep you frantically turning the pages despite a storyline that is not particularly novel. Her writing is just that good and darkly intense. Another thing Ms. Eden excels at is achieving the perfect balance between the romance and the suspense. Even when twisted villains assail the protagonists at every turn and the bodies pile up, her work is primarily character-focused—and MINE TO HOLD is a shining example of this. Whereas Skye sometimes rubbed me the wrong way with her borderline codependency, I absolutely loved Claire and found her to be a remarkably strong and realistically flawed character. She’s survived being held at gunpoint by the ex-boyfriend that had just brutally murdered her parents at sixteen, a suicide attempt, a lifetime of harassment by the ex’s powerful father, her sister’s murder… and she’s still standing. Yes, sometimes she’s terrified and a little needy and needs Noah to be the big, bad alpha protector, but she also knows how to stand on her own two feet and push back. I found her conflicted emotions about her feelings for Noah to be consistent with her character and realistic: she sees a kindred spirit in his darkness and is inexorably drawn to him as a man for the first time since her teens, but she knows he’s dangerous and she’s done dangerous before with disastrous consequences. She has serious trust issues and does a fair bit of running (understandably so), but watching her learn to open up, trust that she can love without it being taken from her, and rediscover herself as a woman is incredibly satisfying.

It’s no secret that I like my heroes a little beta, and Noah is as alpha, possessive, and protective as they come—edging into domineering sometimes. His previous revolving bedroom door lifestyle comes to a screeching halt the second he lays eyes on Claire in MINE TO KEEP and is consumed by his desire to have her. He’s initially unsure of whether what he feels for her is love or obsession, but he knows he will do anything to protect her: keep his dark past hidden, override her wishes, tie her to him, kill for her, or die for her. These are the characteristics that make many a woman swoon over the Christian Greys or Gideon Crosses of the fictional world, but I generally find them somewhat off-putting! Ms. Eden’s darkly intense heroes, consumed by their love for their women, are some of the few extreme alphas I can tolerate and enjoy… but I still want to slap them upside the head sometimes for being so smothery, Noah York included. My inherent dislike of excessively alpha heroes aside, Noah and Claire are an excellent couple: both have experiences that have left them with a lingering aura of darkness, and this helps them teach each other the difference between love and obsession. And, of course, the sexual attraction between them is scorching and leaps off the page. Ms. Eden has a knack for writing super hot love scenes that blur the line between mainstream romance and erotica but are as emotionally charged as they are sexual, and these abound in MINE TO HOLD. Sex is a great communicator, and Noah and Claire often say more with their bodies than they do with words.

Overall, MINE TO HOLD is another excellent addition to the Mine series—my favourite entry so far! It’s long enough to deliver a fast-paced, complete story that doesn’t feel rushed (particularly because some of the character building is done in previous books, another reason to read them in order), but short enough to be read in a couple of sittings. Or a single sitting, since you likely won’t be able to put it down! It has everything that makes Ms. Eden a master of dark romantic suspense: pitch-perfect pacing, palpable tension, excellent writing, distrubingly twisted villains, well-developed primary and secondary characters, and incredibly hot love scenes. If you’re a fan of dark romantic suspense and haven read any of Ms. Eden’s work, definitely check it out! I’m already impatiently awaiting the next instalment, Drake’s story.

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


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