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REVIEW: Hard to Hold by Stephanie Tyler

Dear Ms. Tyler:

044024434X.01.LZZZZZZZI was pretty excited to read your stand alone romantic suspense.   I think it did a great job of blending the suspense and the romance.   It was full of sexual tension but it also had a strong emotional impact even if I did think the villain was a little overwrought and the insertion of the father figure with his … ah, magical abilities, was a bit jarring.

Here’s what I thought the book presented in terms of each of the main characters:   Do you want to live or do you want to die.   Your subconscious knows the answer and dictates your actions. Change your course means coming to grips with living.   Dying is easy.

Isabelle Markham is a talented plastics doctor who decided the regular practice wasn’t for her.   She began to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders.   During her last trip, she was taken hostage by her bodyguard, left for dead and was rescued by Lt. Jake Hansen.   The physical exploits are laid out so simply, without gloss, that it makes Jake seem all the more heroic.   He runs several miles, through difficult and dangerous terrain to get to a helicopter landing site, carrying Isabelle all the way.

“Are you going to keep fighting, Isabelle? Or am I in this alone” Jake asks her during the rescue.   Isabelle asks him in return to share one of the worst things that he has done in his life so that she can feel comfortable unburdening herself.   She tells him that she welcomed her captor into her arms and into her body so that she wouldn’t be violated.   During the rescue, Isabelle asks him to kiss her.   “I don’t want to die knowing that the last man who touched me hurt me.”

And so he does and it forges a connection between the two.   When the two return to the States, Jake resumes his life, trying to forget about Isabelle.


Hostage found. Medical performed.


Held hostage’s hnd.


Lost my fucking mind and kissed the hostage. Repeatedly.

Jake is better at diagnosing Isabelle’s neurosis than his own.   She maintains to herself, even after the rescue mission is over, that she was never raped; that she consented.   Jake knows differently. He rescued her. He saw her naked, beaten and bloodied body.   He knows that her control was taken from her.   He knows that she was violated. He also knows that until she can come to grips with that, she can never be truly with him.

Jake and Isabelle are really well drawn and delicately so.   By that I mean that their layers are pulled away fairly slowly and we see them evolve before our eyes.   Jake is grappling with his past and feels that Isabelle is too fine to be with a man who killed his own father.   He suffers quite a bit of insecurity in this regard.

Isabelle says to her mother that Jake is the only one who treats her as if she is whole.   Her fierceness, what made her get through the hostage situation, the rape, the aftermath, what propels her forward is all of what attracts Jake to her.   His silent strength and acceptance is what she needs.   She is the storm and he is the port.

This is not an uncomplicated plot and there are many characters that are introduced (maybe too many?)  Isabelle’s mother is a senator.   Her past was complicated.   Isabelle’s mother has a relationship with Admiral Callahan who is Jake’s superior and ordered Jake to watch over her.    There is a secondary romance that I can see evolving over the three books.   There is some mystical crap going on with Jake’s adopted father.   There is the relationship between the three adopted brothers.   And all of that seemed extraneous to the story.   It was build up for the series, but affected the two main protagonists and even the plot almost none at all. I think they could have been removed and I wouldn’t have even noticed. I liked Jake and Isabelle so much I wanted to spend my time exclusively with them. Their chemistry was palpable.

Having said that, this book (and I predict this series) is  highly addictive. I know I am interested and anxious for the next story. B-

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Shannon Stacey
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:02:58

    I didn’t read the whole review because I’m reading the book now (although all this family crap is keeping me from devouring it in one sitting like I want) but I’m glad it sounds like the entire book will be as awesome as the beginning (since I automatically add a letter grade to your reviews *g*).

    I knew from the opening paragraph this was my kind of book:

    Lieutenant Junior Grade Jake Hansen had already muttered the word motherfucker as many times as he possibly could in under a minute’s time. He’d used it as a noun and then a verb, planned on continuing to think of new and inventive ways to utilize it in his vocabulary until his Navy SEAL teammate and best friend finally told him to shut up so he could motherfucking bandage Jake’s bleeding biceps.

    Now I need a nanny, a cook, a maid and Thanksgiving rescheduled so I can finish it.

  2. JJ
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:26:10

    Interesting choice in the hero’s name. While I’m reading this book, I will be picturing Grant Show, whose Melrose Place character’s name was Jake Hansen.

  3. joanne
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:38:45

    If anyone should ask you what you’ve done for the romance community lately Jane, tell them you just sold a book.

    I read the cover blurb for this one and passed on it. As far as another ‘SEAL does Dr. Cute’ goes I was not interested. This review has changed my mind and now I am happy to say I have something to read on Thursday while the football plays on and on and on and ……. Thank you.

  4. Jorrie Spencer
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:39:43

    I’ve got to read this book after reading this review.

  5. Tae
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:41:34

    oh man SEALS (and Scotsmen) are my weaknesses in books. I think you just sold four books to me. GAH! I’ve been trying to cut down on buying books this year, too! Well thankfully the Countess Trilogy is in ebook format.

  6. Jill Myles
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 19:36:01

    Okay, not normally a rom/sus fan, but this one is going on the to-buy list. I’m a sucker for the wounded heroine.

  7. Janine
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 21:34:54

    I’m sold on this book after reading this review, too!

    @Tae: I hope you enjoy the Countess Trilogy as much as I did.

  8. Jane
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 21:41:38

    @Shannon Stacey: I think that’s hysterical that you add a grade to each of mine.

    @JJ: I think the author has been working on this series for a couple of years. Maybe Melrose stole from her? (kidding. I know what you mean about names and people. )

    @joanne: I hope you enjoy it. I think it is because Isabelle and Jake seemed so genuine and well matched.

    @Jorrie Spencer: Yeah! Can’t wait to read what you think of it.

    @Tae: If you love SEALs, you will love this book.

    @Jill Myles: This is kind of miracle. You really don’t like RS.

    @Janine: You’ve sold me on the Spice novellas.

  9. Janine
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 22:11:52


    @Janine: You've sold me on the Spice novellas.

    I hope you enjoy them!

  10. Gennita Low
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 22:23:36

    Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been looking forward to reading Stephanie’s RS books.

  11. eva_baby
    Nov 25, 2009 @ 13:19:25

    Sold! I need something new and this looks like it totally fits the bill. I have always maintained that one of the many reasons that I adore Sam Starrett from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series is his homeric use of the the F-word.

  12. Vanessa
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 09:51:49

    I read this review just before i hit Borders yesterday so I figured I’d take a chance and read another RS. Waited until I got home from work to read it, STAYED UP TIL 5 FINISHING IT lol I loved this book, and I agree with you 100% that Isabelle and Jake seem genuine and well matched :D I’m pretty excited for the rest of this series.

  13. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:33:08

    @Vanessa Yeah! I am glad it worked for you and I am especially glad you came and told us it worked for you.

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