Hold On To Me by Victoria Purman

In brief: Stella, the owner of Style By Stella, is devastated. Her shop, which means everything to her, has been damaged in a fire. Enter Luca Morelli, who has he can fix things – but will he fix her heart too? (Read more here).

The good: It’s fun, tender and sexy. Going back to the Boys of Summer series was like meeting an old, beloved friend.

The not-so-good: I’d like to see Grace Morelli get her own book – I think she could be a spirited heroine.

Why I chose it: I’d never miss a Victoria Purman book – thanks to Harlequin Australia for the eARC.

Year: 2016

Pages: 300

Publisher: Harlequin Mira

Setting: Coastal South Australia

My rating: 10 out of 10

I feel so lucky that I discovered the wonderful words of Victoria Purman. I remember scribbling her name down at a conference before her debut release (Nobody But Him, described as a coastal romance) as one to watch, and boy, I’m glad that I did. In a reader’s life, there are authors whose words just click with you and Victoria Purman is one of those authors for me. I am happy to hunt down anything she writes! Fortunately for me in this hot Aussie summer, Hold On To Me
was but a click away to read under the air conditioning. The story is set in summer and it’s a beautiful read. It’s hot and sexy, yet also tender with a touch of sadness. I really felt that I was at Port Elliot or Middle Point while reading this, smelling the ocean and pushing my feet into the cool sand.

Hold On To Me is a Boys of Summer novel, but you don’t have to have read any of the three other books to enjoy it. If you’re a lover of the series, there will be the added joy of seeing what Ry and Julia, Lizzie and Dan and Anna and Joe are up to. If this is your first book, I defy you not to go out and grab the other three books! The main characters of the story were previously spotted in other books – I’ve always wanted to know more about Stella, owner of a fabulous fashion boutique in Port Elliot. The hero is Anna’s little brother, Luca who has a construction business and is hot, hot, hot. I’ve loved all of the Boys of Summer but I think Luca has to be my favourite. He’s not afraid to get down and dirty, he has a caffeine addiction and he’s incredibly caring and family oriented. He’s just what Stella needs. Behind her glamourous exterior, Stella hides a lot of pain. She never had the ‘proper’ family she longed for and she has been hurt more times than is fair. She’s very wary about letting someone into her world. Could Luca be that person?

Luca and Stella meet in less than ideal circumstances for Stella. Her boutique, Style By Stella, is her life and it’s been damaged in a fire on the eve of the busy summer holiday season. Anna (Stella’s best customer) commands Luca to go and see what he can do. Stella is a very strong woman and she’s not keen on taking on some random young man. Fortunately, Luca isn’t daunted by her bossy tone (in fact, he might even be a little turned on) and accepts her challenge. It’s all systems go as Stella and Luca work exceptionally hard to repair the damage in record time. By then, Anna has spotted a few things and it’s her turn to match make Stella and Luca. Will this be more than a fling? Will Stella commit?

The tone of Hold On To Me is perfect for summer – light yet with some intense moments, especially towards the end. There are also quite a few funny moments (think the whole Morelli family watching Stella and Luca get romantic from the Christmas lunch table, plus an incident with Stella’s friend Courtney while she’s on duty). As well as celebrating romance, Hold On To Me
captures flawlessly the beauty and support of female friendships. It’s almost as much about celebrating the bond between Stella, Anna, Lizzie and Julia as it is about Stella and Luca.

I also enjoyed how Stella and Luca’s romance went from hot lust to tender love. Sometimes the pulling back of one character from a budding relationship can be annoying, but Stella’s reluctance to commit to Luca wasn’t that way for me. Because she clearly has reasons for it, it fitted in well with the storyline. Stella’s exploration into her past was sad at times but explained how she became the woman she is today. It was handled sensitively and with grace.

I’d love to see further books in the Boys of Summer series – I think Grace Morelli (sister of Anna and Luca) needs her own story. Courtney, a new character, could also be a great heroine – we know she needs to get out of her police uniform and party!

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