Title: Hold On
Series: The Burg' #6
Author: Kristen Ashley
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!!

Since she was young, Cher Rivers knew she was not the kind of girl who got what she wanted. A girl who could hope. A girl who could dream. She knew a happily ever after just wasn't in the cards for her.
In love for years with the last bastion of the 'burg's eligible bachelors, Garrett Merrick, Cher worked hard at making him laugh. Being one of the guys. Having him in her life the only way she could. All this knowing he was in love with another woman.
The Merrick Family is known for loving deep. So when Cecelia Merrick was murdered, it marked the Merricks in a way none of them recovered. Both Cecelia's children found love. Both turned their backs on it. But Garrett "Merry" Merrick knew in his soul the woman he divorced years ago was the one for him.
Until the night when Cher took Garrett's back and things changed. The Merrick family loves deep. They also protect fiercely. And with his eyes finally open, Garrett sees the woman who truly is for him and he goes after her.
I've waited so long to see Cheryl Sheckle get her happy ending. If there's ever been a character that deserves some good in her life, it's this single mom stripper turned bartender who was duped and used by serial killer, Denny Lowe. And who better to bring her some good than Garrett Merrick, the cop that she's quietly pined for over the years since being welcomed into the fold with open arms in the 'Burg. The build and pacing in this story is perfectly imperfect, the course of events surrounding Cher and Merry is fraught with angst and uncertainty, ex-lovers and festering wounds from the past. Those bumps in the road peppering a seriously steamy story of two people just trying to figure it out as they go. It's just fantastic, the timing of each curve ball, the element of suspense and crime keeping this story right in line with those that came before it, the delicious sex, the laugh-out-loud dialogue and banter, all of it culminating to make Hold On completely unputdownable from beginning to end.

Hold On is a beautifully fleshed out story about two people who've been so wronged by their pasts, who've been hurt and beaten down by their lot in life, who have never believed they'd ever find better until they found it in each other. That's nothing new to Kristen Ashley's books, true. But the gravity of their pasts, all that Garrett Merrick lost, the demons he didn't know how to fight, and all that Cher Rivers has survived, a relationship with a serial killer, stripping to keep food on the table for a little boy fathered by a loser junkie, makes for a story you can feel down to your bones. The grief and the tragedy of the past, the utter safety and security that comes along with being surrounded by good people and good friends in the Burg, and the complete happiness and contentment that comes with finding a love, a reward, the likes of Merrick and Cher after living without it for so long, all of it juxtaposes to deliver a spectrum of emotion that I felt so deeply, on a level I haven't felt while reading in ages. The sweet doesn't taste as sweet without the sour and the burn of the past, the joys and the friendships and the love in this book feel so significant because of the depth of the loss and loneliness and resignation that came before it. Kristen Ashley executes a story in Hold On that ensures the reader feels every bit of that goodness right along with the profound bleakness of the bad.

Hold On is a story of love, of course. But Cher's story is so much more than that. Kristen Ashley consistently and flawlessly writes stories that emphasize the importance of relationships, of the bonds between good people. This author creates a world EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. where the story is so much bigger than girl meets boy, love story ensues, happily ending commences. Ashley makes the reader appreciate every relationship, every single dynamic between her characters, from the old lady next door who'll watch your kid when you're in a bind, to the cops you know you can call on when your neighbors play their music too loud, to the chick in the coffee shop who knows what your regular is and who'll also offer up a dress for you to borrow in a pinch, to the everyday citizen who stops by the bar you work in just to shoot the shit over a drink. Kristen Ashley gives a small town feel to a book in a way no one else does, making you feel like you're there, giving you that comfort and security of knowing the florist, the police department, your neighbors, your best friend's sister's mother's hairdresser not just by name, but in such a familiar way. And after all, it's obvious by the way Kristen Ashley cultivates a story that that's what's truly important, to be surrounded by good people who have your back and want good things for you. It comes through the pages how importing that is to this author, good healthy relationships where people lift each other up, especially people like Cher Rivers who've never had it and need it the most. It's those relationships that make Hold On so special. This story is so much more than the romance between Cher and Merry, it's about a town, a circle of people coming together to rally around this woman who's had it seriously tough in life and they want better for her.

This book is a beautiful finale to an absolutely unforgettable series. Kristen Ashley brings back every major player within her vast cast of characters, and makes them a pivotal part of Merrick and Cher's story. In doing so, she not only made me fall in love with them all over again, but she reminded me of why I fell in love with them in the first place, and she sends them off in a way that ensures I'll never forget again why they mean so much to me. With a lengthy epilogue broken up into parts that gives us a glimpse into every single 'Burg couple as the years unfold, we're left with such peace for these characters, for their families, their children, their friendships, the bonds between all of them that will never end even though we can't see them anymore. It's deeply moving, wholly uplifting, and profoundly bittersweet seeing these characters go. But, as is the beauty of Kristen Ashley's stories, the reader is gifted with characters and moments and lines and memories that we can hold on to. Hold On is now on that long list of KA books that I'll be rereading and revisiting again and again.

Jessica's Review:

Through this, my leg hit an end table and I adjusted. We cleared the couch, I shifted again too soon, both my calves hit the coffee table, and my ass went down on it.
I looked up. Cell flat to the table, I braced my hands to push up, but Merry was there, chin in his throat, eyes on me, and when he spoke again, his mind was clearly on my location.
“Tried to get your mouth on me more than once when we tore at each other up last Friday, but I was in the mood to use mine. Lookin’ forward to learnin’ what you can do with yours, but like I said, baby, right now, don’t got the time.”
My only response that he couldn’t twist was to glare at him, which was what I did.
“But got time before I go for a kiss,” Merry informed me.
“Only kiss I’ll give you is tellin’ you to kiss off,” I informed him.
“Who knew warm brown eyes like the ones you got could spark that kind of fire,” he muttered as if he wasn’t even talking to me.
“Step back,” I demanded.
“No,” he denied.
I continued to glare up at him, then I realized I was not the kind of woman who sat on her ass, glaring up at a man towering over her and pinning her in. So I stood, which put me smack in Merry’s space, my breasts brushing against his abs and up his chest on my way.
They kept brushing when he didn’t move back, but I didn’t attempt escape, even to get away from the shafts of electricity this all caused at my nipples, shafts that headed south.
I glared at him from closer.
He stared into my eyes, his gaze moving down to my mouth then back up as one side of his lips curved.
He was getting off on this.
I didn’t get that and I didn’t want to get that.
I wanted this done.
“In the mood to play, Officer?” I whispered.
“Told you, sweetheart, don’t got the time.”
I shook my head but held his gaze. “Not what I mean. Single mom, all alone. Switch out her storms. Offer info to help her out of a jam. Been a while since I was in the know about these things, so tell me, what’s the price for all that? You mentioned a blowjob. You got stamina, but I got talent. Balance that out, I’m thinkin’ it’ll take more than the usual ten, fifteen minutes. We’ll give it twenty. So I can manage my time, is there more?”
I wasn’t even done talking before I learned his eyes could spark fire too.
I also learned he was in the mood to play, that being, playing me at my own game.
And doing it better.
He dipped his face close, his voice low. “Storms get me the blowjob, brown eyes. I get the intel you need, that buys me sinkin’ deep in wet pussy.”
I felt my nipples get harder at the same time something else happened to me that, if he was of a mind to take his payoff right then, he’d get what he wanted.
I hid this reaction and asked, “You want this all in one go, or you wanna spread payback out for a while?”
“Keep plenty of time open, Cher. I intend to earn a fuckuva lot more and draw it out collecting.”
I nodded, still keeping a lock on his eyes. “I get it. Girl like me, only payback expected for me to be able to give.”
That didn’t get me fire.
That got me ice.
“I hear you talk down about yourself one more time, Cher, shit will get extreme.”
That made me ice over.
“Do not hand me that crap, Merry. You come into my home and got no problem talkin’ about wet pussy right to my face tells me the woman you know me to be.”
He dipped his face even closer, to the point it felt like if I blinked, my lashes would sweep his in a butterfly kiss.
“Do not hand me your shit, Cher,” he growled. “That hang-up is yours, not mine. And how I know that is I made you come just finger fuckin’ you and talkin’ dirty in your ear, and it was the talk and not what my fingers were doin’ that took you there. I like that, a woman who can let go and let me give her that without gettin’ uptight and closin’ down on me. You liked it too, a fuckuva lot more than me. So don’t stand there handin’ me your shit when I know you’re wet for me now and I haven’t fuckin’ touched you.”
I refused to reply to that because he was right and I had no intention of confirming that information.
But it was then he hit me with a verbal blow, the intensity of which, not in my whole shitty-ass life I’d ever received.
“Christ, if I didn’t know you were worth it, I’d walk out the door and this would be done—all we got, over.”
I could stand.
I could stare.
But I couldn’t breathe.
Merry could.
He could also speak.
“Hope like fuck no one takes off with those storms while I’m gone. You think they will, move ’em into garage and leave the key under the mat. I’m switchin’ ’em out, Cher. I come back tonight and they’re done, I’ll find you, and I won’t be collectin’. I’ll be dishin’ it out, but you won’t get it until you beg for it and do that shit for a really long time.”
His words were lost on me.
I continued to stand.
I continued to stare.
But my lungs had started burning.
If I didn’t know you were worth it…
“When’s Ethan’s next sleepover?” Merry bit out.
“Friday,” I whispered. “But his friend’s comin’ here.”
“Fuck,” Merry clipped. “Find a time, babe. You don’t, payback’ll stack up and I’ll have to take personal days and hole up in a hotel with you for a week. And there’s not a doubt that stick-up-her-ass church lady your ex tied his shit to won’t appreciate you bein’ gone from your kid for a weeklong fuckathon.”
That was kind of funny as well as hot.
I still said nothing.
Merry fell silent and stared at me.
Then he dealt the second biggest verbal blow I’d ever received in my life.
“Christ, you’re pretty, even standin’ there plotting my murder.”
After that, he lifted a hand, grabbed me gentle but firm at my neck, yanked me up so my mouth hit his hard but brief, then he let me go.
“Later, babe,” he said, strolling to my door. He stopped in it, turned to me, and bid his farewell by saying, “You touch those storms only to put them in the garage.”
He closed the door on that.
I stood where he left me.
If I didn’t know you were worth it…
What was I worth?
What was I worth to Merry?

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen's Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning. 

Nothing's changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she's blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. 
And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.


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