**** We had the great pleasure of meeting Katy Regnery at the Black and Gold Author Event, and she was generous enough to gift us an autographed copy of The Vixen and the Vet, book one in her modern fairytales series (Beauty and the Beast) for giveaway to one lucky reader!
1. Check out our review of Never Let You Go below, then:
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3. Comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Vixen and the Vet!
Doing it at: 45%
Catnip: Long Lost Love, Deep Dark Secret, Modern Fairy Tale, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead, MMA Fighter, Rescue Me, Survivor’s Guilt
Shame Scale: Mild shame when answering your new coworker’s question of what you’re reading
Fantasy Cast: Matt Woodhouse, Indiana Evans
What do we taste like?: Her essence, salty and sweet, a reminder of his tenderness: that her pleasure came first.
Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.
In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.
Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.
Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.
Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people–once profoundly broken–who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.
Have we talked about how I’m a sucker for fairy tales? I almost majored in Mythology because I could fall into folk tales and Grimm forever and ever. So romance novels that are modern retellings of fairy tales are big catnip for me. Never Let You Go is a reworking of Hansel and Gretel. I’ve actually read one of those before but it was MUCH more serious subject matter. Never Let You Go covers some dark topics, but it also contains a very sweet romance at its core.
Holden and Griselda met as kids in the foster care system. They were both ten years old placed in a home that was not the greatest, but not a horror show either. Plus they’re both pretty quickly infatuated with each other in a very innocent, childlike way. One day, while on a rare outing with their foster family, Holden and Griselda volunteer to walk to a general store to get provisions for lunch. They never make it there. Gris willingly gets in a stranger’s pick up trick (He had a puppy! Clearly she did not watch Cleveland Abduction on Lifetime), and Holden doesn’t want to let her go alone even though he KNOWS this guy and his puppy aren’t kosher.
“The Man” keeps Holden and Griselda locked in his cellar for three years, calling them Seth and Ruth and acting like they’re his long gone twin siblings. They’re half-starved, beaten, and worked until their fingers literally bleed while some crazy man yells scripture at them about repenting for their sins and hell fire burning them eternally. When the pair are thirteen and things are looking especially grim, they plan an escape to the other side of the Shenandoah River and to freedom. Griselda makes it. Holden doesn’t.
It’s ten years later and Griselda has never stopped thinking of Holden. She bears massive guilt for getting away when he couldn’t, and because of this lives her life in a state of constant penance. She’s working as a nanny for a senator and his wife, refusing their offers to help her get in to college, and dating an abusive douchebag. Seriously, Jonah is the worst.
“Didn’t even tell you where we’re headed yet,” he said, poking her thigh just a little too hard to be playful.
Looking askance, she gave him a bored, annoyed look.
“Makes me want to smack your mouth when you look at me all ugly like that, Zelda.”
She flinched before forcing a small, brittle smile.
“That’s my girl,” he said, spitting into the bottle again. “Shawn knows a guy who owns luxury cabins a couple hours from here. Somewhere out in Pennsylvania. Said he’d rent one to us.”
“Naw, that’s not right. Not Pennsylvania. Uh, West Virginia, I think.”
Griselda’s breath hitched, but Jonah was staring out the windshield and didn’t notice.
Griselda has less than zero desire to go to West Virginia for a ‘romantic weekend’ with Jonah the Super Douche, WV is where she was abducted and tortured for three years. But Jonah doesn’t know about her history, and if he did it’s still not likely he would have cared, so her protests are met with threats of violence and Gris just sucks it up and goes.
Since just hanging out in WV isn’t a romantic enough plan, Jonah and his friend decide they want to take their girls to an underground MMA type fight in a cornfield. So they can watch two country boys beat the shit out of each other in a ring made out of hay bales. And really, that’s every girls weekend getaway dream right? Antiquing, wine tasting, redneck fight club! Meanwhile not one but two of these strangers they meet before the fight have looked at Gris and asked where they know her from, insisting she looks super familiar. And one of the fighters is named Seth.
Of course the big, scarred up — but still devilishly handsome — fighter named Seth is Holden. Alive after all these years. And the reason his friends thought Griselda looked familiar is because he has her face (albeit her 13-year-old face) tattooed on his arm. Holden thought Griselda was dead, because The Man told her that he shot her during the escape attempt. That he buried her in a shallow grave before fleeing town with a shell-shocked, badly beaten Holden. Holden has spent a decade mourning Gris, fighting for free and then for money because he’s full of this crazy rage, and also sleeping with a boatload of ladies. We know how many ladies because Holden has TALLY MARKS TATTOOED ON HIS ARM. 80ish black slash marks on his bicep for every girl he penetrated while thinking of Griselda. I don’t know how Regnery managed to take his man whoring and make it seem like a sweet tribute to Holden’s love for Griselda, but she did and we’re gonna make up a trophy for her.
Lucky didn’t even scratch the surface.
He was alive. And Griselda was alive. He knew better than that doctor. He knew that there was no luck left in the entire world tonight, because all of it– every last fucking drop — belonged to him.
I don’t want to spoil anything that happens after Holden and Griselda are reunited, and a lot happens. There’s a very epic feel to the writing in Never Let You Go. Our couple is deeply in love; bonded by their shared childhood trauma and the rightness of their being together. External forces try to keep them apart, but there is no dumb book behavior where Holden and Griselda think they aren’t really in love and aren’t meant to be. Also, the doing it is hot and plentiful (which you know is very important to us!).
“I don’t know what will happen after this,” she said, her dark eyes full of tendeness and uncertainty. “What happens after this?”
“I’ll make you come. I’ll hold you while you sleep. I’ll change for you. I’ll live for you. I’ll never let you go,” he promises, capturing her top lip between his and kissing her.
Never Let You Go is a longer read, don’t pick this up if you’re looking for something you can inhale in one sitting; unless you have no kids or job or desire to sleep. I’d recommend this as a great gateway book from more standard chick lit into erotic romance. I’d also rec it as a great book for girls who are moving from YA to new adult, the heart of this book is a tender love story with two characters that are a pleasure to root for.
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