Jun 1 2014 10:00am

First Look: Marie Force’s I Want to Hold Your Hand (June 3, 2014)

I Want to Hold Your Hand by Marie ForceMarie Force
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Berkley / June 3, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Almost seven years after losing her husband in Iraq, Hannah Abbott Guthrie isn’t sure she’s ready—or able—to move on, but the attentions of a lifelong friend are making her think about it for the first time. The memory of the sweet kiss she shared with Nolan Roberts hasn’t strayed far from her thoughts, but she also fears that pursuing something with him would mean betraying her husband’s memory.

Nolan has loved Hannah for years, but he’d been giving her the space she needed to heal from her devastating loss. Now, when an opportunity arises to show her how he feels, Nolan can’t resist, but he knows earning her love will take more than a kiss. Somehow he has to prove to Hannah that finding love twice in a lifetime is possible—and well worth risking her heart.

In her latest book, Marie Force brings us back to Vermont, into the home of the Abbott Family. In this particular family (of 10 children), there is only one way to describe them, which is 'close,' a nice way of saying everyone knows each other’s business. Even with most of them now grown and out of the house, some things don’t change, and keeping things personal around the Abbot family is impossible.

The biggest tragedy to hit the family was the death of Caleb Guthrie, a lifelong friend of all the Abbotts and the high school sweetheart and husband to Hannah Abbott-Guthrie. Caleb could have chosen the easy route and become a professional hockey player, but Caleb was driven to follow his father’s example and serve his country. His loss rippled through the Abbott family and the small town.

The Abbotts are the kind of family who pull together in a crisis, but they could do nothing as the years pass but sit back and watch Hannah grieve. Putting aside her dreams for the future and move on with her life has been almost impossible for Hannah. Caleb was always so full of life and he was the center of her world since she was a teen. Even seven years after his death, just the thought of another man in her life feels like being unfaithful. Yet Hannah is spending more and more time thinking about Nolan Roberts since they danced at the Grange a few weeks ago. Dancing with Nolan and letting him kiss her goodnight made Hannah feel wonderfully alive for the first time since Caleb was deployed and still it felt like a complete betrayal to his memory. How could she kiss someone else and enjoy it when she was Caleb’s wife?

“If I call Nolan he’s going to get all hopeful, and I can’t do that to him,” she said, reasoning with herself and the cold air. It had been enough that recently she’d danced with him at the Grange and then let him drive her home. That was more than she’d done with any man in all the years since Caleb died.

But Nolan wasn’t just any man. He’d been less than circumspect about his feelings for her, never missing a chance to inquire about her to one of her family members—all of who loved relaying Nolan’s thoughtful sentiments to her at every possible opportunity.

But if Hannah was ever going to fall in love again, she couldn’t have chosen a better man than Nolan. A long-time friend of Hannah and Caleb, she has known him for years and he has been there for her since Caleb died. He understands her loss and why it is so hard for her to move forward with her life and he is willing to give her as much time as she needs to work through her feelings until she is ready for more.

“Spend some time with me. We can do anything you want. No pressure, no kissing, no nothing unless you want it. I’d be completely happy if I got to hold your hand, Hannah.”

Unnerved by his urgently spoken words and the kindness behind them, she licked her lips and tried not to notice the way he zeroed in on the movement of her tongue. “Why me?”

“Hell if I know,” he said with a gruff laugh, “but I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t you.”

Hannah isn’t certain how she feels about Nolan and what moving on with her life without Caleb will mean to her. She is also concerned how everyone else will view her and Nolan’s relationship. Her family might be pleased that she wants to spend time with Nolan, but not everyone is ready to Hannah to move on with her life.

Nolan’s hand rolled into fists he kept planted at his sides so he wouldn’t be tempted to flatten a man he’d always considered a friend. “It’s taken her all this time to get to the point where she’d even consider being with someone else. If you’ve undone all that progress with your thoughtless comments, I’ll never forgive you. You owe her an apology, and until she gets it, I have nothing to say to you.”

It seems that with each step she takes forward with Nolan, Hannah is shoved back by her loss of Caleb. Caleb and his dog Homer were inseparable and when the passing years take their toll on Homer, his loss brings a closure to her life with Caleb once more and the finality of it hits Hannah hard once again.

So many memories came flooding back to her, of the years she and Caleb and Homer had spent moving around with the army as Caleb advanced through the officer corps and the leave time they’d spent at home in Vermont. Each time Caleb deployed, Hannah and Homer came home to be with her family. She and Homer had propped each other up and gotten each other through the long absences.

On the day they lost Caleb, they’d been here in Vermont passing an ordinary day at home until the army chaplain showed up with two other officers, all of them wearing the telltale class A uniforms, and shattered her world. Somehow Homer had known…He’d understood and had grieved right along with her.

Hannah needs to find the courage to let go of her past with Caleb so she can move on with her life with Nolan or she risks losing what could be her second chance at love and the dreams of a family of her own that she packed away long ago.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of I Want to Hold Your Hand by Marie Force, available June 3, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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