Title: Hold Me Against You
Series: Standalone Novel
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: May 31, 2016!!

From New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren comes a sexy new standalone in the Stripped series...
Once upon a time the daughter of a mafia king fell in love with a foot soldier.
This fairy tale didn't have a happy ending.
My sister and I barely managed to escape alive, and we've lived in relative hiding ever since. I'm safe now, but I can never forget the boy who gave his life to save mine.
Except there are whispers that he's still alive. And he's fighting a war.
Even knowing the risks, I have to find him. I have to find some way to protect him, the way he protected me. But he isn't the boy I left behind. He's a violent man. A criminal. And he's been waiting for me--the final pawn in a dark game of survival and love.
 "Fairy tales aren’t for the girls who have a choice. They’re for the girls shoved into corners, trapped in darkness, bent over desks. Places where hope is an act of bravery. Where believing in love is an act of rebellion."

I can distinctly remember my feelings of desolation and confusion when I finished Tough Love, the series prequel, and immediately went in to Love the Way You Lie only to find that it was not more of Clara and Giovanni's story, but the story of her sister, Honor. I loved that book, loved every book in this series, but there's not a couple I've longed to read more of than Clara and Giovanni. My need to see them get their closure, to get ANYTHING after how brutal that prequel was to them, was immense. This entire series has been a delicate balance between brutality and sweet, satisfying romance for every character in every book. At times hard to read, this series has been rife with heartbreak, pain and grief, but I've never been more ready to see a couple get to the other side than this one.

"The love he once felt for me, the conflicted desire he feels now. The torture did change him, harden him, but I’m beginning to fall for the man he is now."

I'm drawn to Skye Warren's stories like a moth to a flame. Her beautiful writing style, her captivating storylines that toe the invisible line between sensuality and brutality, between darkness and hope, are both addictive and unforgettable. Hold You Against Me, the story of Giovanni and Clara, has unequivocally been my most anticipated read from this author. I was completely taken by their ill fated romance in the prequel. They were the characters I always hoped to see glimpses of as I read each installment, stories about other interconnected characters, as Warren painstakingly dragged out my anticipation for the conclusion of Clara and Gio's own story. This series unfolded just as it should, beautifully and painfully, the wait difficult for me because I craved their story so desperately. Well, the wait was worth every ounce of my frustration and longing because Giovanni and Clara's story is fantastic. Heartbreaking. Frustrating. Maddening. Sensual. Romantic.

"There’s a kind of intimacy in telling the truth, a seduction with every layer and lie fallen away."

This is a story of two young lovers reuniting as strangers after so many years apart. This is a story of the secrets and deceptions that separate them even once they're together again. This is a story of Clara finding everything she ever wanted firmly locked within the life she never wanted to return to. Hold You Against Me was tortuous to read but in such a different way than the other stories in this series. While the previous books were wrought with violence and pain that made for a difficult read, the pain in this story comes by way of emotional torment. I had such a visceral reaction to Giovanni's coldness, his impenetrable stoicism, his stark indifference. It was so hard to wrap my mind around the idea of the boy you once loved being right in front of you yet never more distant. Warren beautifully illustrates this powerful love story of characters separated by time, by violence and fear and death, and now by secrets and a bloody mafia code. Clara's private longing and her inability to move on from the memory of Gio is so profound within these pages, that it makes it so much more heartbreaking when she finds that the boy she lost is gone forever, the man he's become a stranger.

As far as Skye Warren stories go, Hold You Against Me is one is the most romantic I've read. Her stories are always about love at their core, but it's often difficult to feel the simple romanticism of them beneath all of the violence and cruelty and brutality that distorts it. There's an innocence about Clara that never faltered and a softness in Giovanni that reminds us of the boy he once was despite the man he's become. The glimpses of their vulnerabilities threaded through this gritty storyline allowed for a much more emotional, romantic storyline than I ever expected. This second chance mafia romance lived up to everything I hoped for and so much more. This is the story I've been dying for, and it's a story I never expected. Beautifully layered, romantic and sexy, Skye Warren delivers a complex story of fierce loyalty, absolution, and endless love. The writing in this book is as breathtaking as the story is unforgettable. I absolutely loved it.

Jessica's Rating:

Something moves me gently, constant and rhythmic like waves. I’m warm. There’s something soft curling around my arms, wrapped inside my fists. Padding beneath my cheek that smells like home.

An unnatural darkness weighs down on me, keeping me from waking up—a demon’s whisper in my ear. You’re warm, you’re safe. Sleep.

But something is wrong.

I remember falling asleep, so suddenly, remember drinking water that I hadn’t filled. And I remember the phone call from Amy telling me that Giovanni’s alive. Impossible.

Awareness pricks my skin like a cold breeze. Wherever I am, I’m not alone.

I blink rapidly, forcing my eyes open. They adjust to the darkness quickly, taking in the tinted windows on either side and the wide leather bench curving beneath me. I’m in a car. A limo, to be exact. And it’s moving.

On the opposite side of the long space, a large body reclines. I can see the wide stance of his legs, the pale white of his shirt. A suit jacket tossed beside his hip. His face is hidden in the shadows of the vehicle.

I was raised by the head of the Las Vegas mafia, the capo. I grew up around guns and violence, so I know when a man is armed. It’s the way he holds himself, the warning shimmering around him like a dark halo.

This man is armed and extremely dangerous.

Every muscle in my body tenses. My mind still swims in thick water, because I must have been drugged. He drugged me, this faceless man. Why did he take me? It won’t be anything good, that’s for sure.

Even worse, I suspect this has something to do with my past, with my family. It’s messed up that I’d rather be taken by some random psycho. But at least then I’d have a chance of getting away.

“Who are you?” I demand, my voice hoarse from whatever drugs they gave me.

There’s a long pause, the weight of his regard as heavy as a finger trailing down my neck.

“Have I really changed that much, bella, that you don’t recognize me?”

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance such as Wanderlust and Prisoner. Praised as a “true mistress of dark erotica”, her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, four dogs, and one evil cat.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful review!

  2. Awesome review! Thanks for sharing :)