Cherry fell in love with Denver the moment she met him, but he's been steadily avoiding her forever, and a girl can only take so much apathy and rejection. Denver wants Cherry more than he's ever wanted anyone, but the girl's a flirt, and he can't stand watching her smile and laugh and charm other men. When Cherry's last shot finally hooks him, they fall into sync almost effortlessly, but when trouble from Cherry's past comes back to haunt her, she'll have to trust Denver with more than her heart in order to survive.
The Verdict: Wow. I might love Denver more than Cannon now. When I saw this latest book in the series pop up on NetGalley, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and I'm not disappointed.
Cherry's been pining for Denver since she first came to town, but he seems more interested in pretty much anything else but her. Not entirely willing to give up, she gives it one last shot, and it looks like they might finally be together. But after one amazing night together, she's sick as a dog, and even though she doesn't want Denver to see her like that, she can't seem to get rid of him. To make matters worse, three creepy thugs have shown up in town and been asking people about her, and as much as she doesn't want anyone to know about her past, she doesn't seem to have much choice.
Cherry was an incredibly interesting character, both because of her past and because of her present. On the outside, she seems to have it all together; she's fun and flirty and catches plenty of guys' eyes. But her life hasn't always been something to smile about. Orphaned and sent off to foster care, she endured a horrific childhood at the hands of her three foster “brothers,” and since getting away, she never looked back. And now they're looking for her.
She's also not nearly as confident as one might expect, but instead of waiting around and wondering, she's quick to ask Denver where they stand whenever she's unsure about things. She doesn't push too hard, and she doesn't declare her heart, but she's careful to make sure she has some clue where they're headed before she gets in over her head. That insecurity coupled with a strong sense of self-preservation made her much different than the typical romance novel heroine. Her falling in love just added an extra spark to her character.
Denver is just… Well, he's damned near perfect. He's been practically obsessed with Cherry for so long, but he didn't think he could handle her flirtatious ways, and he also didn't want to rock the friendship boat with her or any of their other mutual friends. When he finally can't stand it anymore, he goes ahead and takes a chance, still not sure if he can really handle her. But through it all, he's quick to reassure her even when he's not sure what he's doing, and he does his best to take care of her when she's sick and when she's threatened. And there are no words for how hot the man is.
As much as I loved the first book, I've gotta say this one has knocked it off its pedestal and become my new favorite. The banter among all the friends is just as brilliant and fun, and just like last time, I absolutely loved Armie. The romance between Denver and Cherry is sizzling hot and amazingly sweet all at once, which is pretty much the perfect combination. They've both got their reservations and are trying to protect their hearts, but it's so much fun watching them lose that internal battle and give into each other. Of course, there's also the matter of the threats against Cherry, and while plot twists like that often annoy me, this one fit so perfectly into the story and with the characters that I was reading as fast as I could, just trying to get a piece of whatever would happen next.
Holding Strong is ridiculously entertaining, with hot romance, tense suspense, witty dialogue, and an incredible cast of characters who add to every moment. I have no idea how I'm going to be able to stand waiting for the next book!