Hold Me Close
Harlequin Mira / November 24, 2015 / $15.99 print / $8.99 digital
Apart, they are broken, but together, they are whole
Effie and Heath are famous. Not for anything they did, but for what happened to them as teenagers. Abducted and abused by the same man, they turned to each other for comfort until they were finally able to make their escape.
Now adults, their relationship is fraught with guilt and despair. Whether fighting or making love, their passion is strong enough to destroy them both—and Effie's not about to let that happen. She knows it's time for her to have a “normal” relationship, and Heath is nothing but a constant reminder of the dark past they share. Heath, on the other hand, knows Effie is the only woman he can ever love. She may want to forget what happened, but he's convinced that they must face their past together in order to move forward. So while Effie continues to bring new men into her life, Heath becomes obsessed with proving he's the one she needs.
Then a new crisis arises and Effie begins to lose every scrap of self-control she ever had. As she struggles against her desire to return to the one man who understands her, she discovers that sometimes the only safety you find is with the person who is the most dangerous for you.
Hold Me Close is in turns a romance and a tragedy, gut-wrenching and powerful—and one of Megan Hart’s strongest novels since 2013’s Tear You Apart. Through Effie and Heath’s past and present, Hart explores what it means to be “normal” and “healthy” and to truly move on from the devastating events we often think define us.
For the reader, that Effie and Heath and Effie’s adorable daughter, Polly, are a family is obvious from the outset. But Effie’s not there yet, and we have to travel with her — often times in her ill-fitting skin —as she hashes out what happened to her and Heath in a predator’s basement. She thinks turning to other men is part of that process, and that, too, is painful. What happens when the guy you think is your escape from the mess really isn’t? Effie has to learn that lesson a few times, in excruciating ways.
“So,” Heath said quietly, “you’re looking for love this time?”
“Isn’t everyone?” She said it nonchalantly, but she knew this admission changed everything. Until recently, she’d only been exploring. Considering her options. Having fun. But lately she had to admit that she was searching for something more — something real. She wasn’t sure she could find it with anyone but Heath, but she’d be damned if it wasn’t worth trying.
And Heath…oh, man. Can we talk about Heath? This is a guy who will break your heart and then scramble for the pieces so he can glue them back together. He loves Effie so much. It doesn’t matter that her mother thinks he’s a reminder of the past and that he’s bad for her. It doesn’t matter that Effie won’t allow herself to accept him but still can’t seem to let him go. The reader knows what’s up. The reader roots for him even though the circumstances of how he and Effie met are absolutely horrendous. He’s The One from the moment we meet him.
“I will never stop loving you,” he told her. “If we live a thousand lifetimes, I will never stop.”
Effie disengaged herself from him, pulling up her panties and pj bottoms and stepping back. She wanted him to get off his knees, but he stayed there. She turned away so she didn’t have to look at him.
“We don’t have a thousand lifetimes. We only have one, Heath. Only this one.”
He stood then. She continued refusing to look at him. She thought he might touch her, and she braced for it, but he didn’t.
“Then this one has to be enough, doesn’t it?”
This is one of those books that you have to periodically put down, that may make you shout expletives, and that may also be triggering for those who’ve been victims of sexual assault and childhood physical abuse. Megan Hart doesn’t pull any punches — but that only makes Effie and Heath’s journey all the more healing, all the more hard-won.
Hold Me Close is both a title and a directive — and it will remind you just how precious it is to be in the right person’s arms.
Learn more about or order a copy of Hold Me Close by Megan Hart, available on November 24, 2015:
Mala Bhattacharjee is a longtime pop culture writer and the former News Editor of Soap Opera Weekly magazine. She also writes contemporary romance as Suleikha Snyder. She loves romance, genre TV and movies, Bollywood and single-malt scotch. Follow her on Twitter @badnecklace.