REVIEW: Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey
A country-music star returns home to win back the woman he loves in this charming holiday novella from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey
Ava Wright isn’t happy to see her high school sweetheart rolling into their hometown a few weeks before Christmas. He’s only come back to bury his estranged father, but there’s no way she’ll be able to avoid him. No one can: he’s become a country-music superstar since going solo and leaving Ava behind.
Jace Morrow grew up believing “money can’t buy happiness” was something people said to make themselves feel better. But now he knows it’s the truth: no matter how many number-one hits he has, he’ll never recapture the magic of singing with Ava. Missing her—loving her—and living with making the wrong choice in life were what made him who he is.
When Jace is roped into being part of the town’s annual Christmas party, he only cares about earning Ava’s forgiveness. And though Ava’s heart has never healed, she loved Jace too much and for too long to shut him out when he’s hurting. As they fall in love all over again, they’re both faced with choices for their future…and this time Jace intends to make the right one.
Dear Ms. Stacey,
Your name on it pretty much means I’ll look at a blurb twice and ’tis the time to start reading Christmas novellas. This one has a lot of depth to it and despite the shorter length, I’m pretty sold on the romance by the end.
Ava has six years of hurt built up by the time Jace rolls back into their small Missouri town after leaving her and their dreams behind when he caught the ear of a Nashville country music manager. When he chose the opportunity to make it big over staying with her, it cut Ava to the heart. But in the intervening years, Ava hasn’t crawled under a rock, thank God. Some romance heroines seem to go all Miss Havisham after losing a lover but Ava has made a life for herself and even gotten married – though she readily admits that was a mistake. She has not been wallowing in grief though she doesn’t make it easy when Jace tells her he’s going to try and earn a second chance.
Jace knows he’s handled everything with Ava badly since the moment when he made the decision to go for his dreams of stardom. He always meant to get a start, make a name and then get her back but in the end, turning his hurt and pain into a mega smash song was all he could do. Seeing her again steels his resolve to give it one last chance. He’s never stopped loving Ava and if there is the faintest hope, he’ll do what it takes. Unlike some “I’m gonna win her back” heroes, he pays attention to what she wants and tries not to push things. He really listens this time.
These two do talk, air their feelings and try to move past the old hurts. The people in their lives don’t either shove them at each other nor do they portend doom and gloom. Most of the secondary characters act like real people – concerned and careful but knowing Ava and Jace well, they try to be honest and thoughtful. There are a few steps forward to one or two back and since they’d loved each other since childhood and never really stopped, the speed to the reunion wasn’t too bad. The six month epilogue helps to seal the deal though. B