Skye Warren’s latest contemporary romance novel, Hold You Against Me is MUSTREAD for dark erotica fans. Read our review and grab your copy today!
I’ve loved Skye Warren’s books for a few years now, and whenever I’m in the mood for well-written, dark, angsty, HOT fantasy, she’s at the top of my list. I first fell in love with Skye’s Beauty Series (sexy, forbidden romance between a slightly older professor and his student/employee), but I might love her Stripped Series even more. These characters and their experiences are so heartbreakingly raw. By the time the protagonists reach their HEA, you’ve witnessed the battles that brought them there and goodness, is the happiness well-earned!
But Skye’s latest release has been the story I’ve been waiting for since the novella that kicked off the Stripped series, Tough Love. We first meet Clara Moretti when she’s 15 years old and her “father” is big mob boss in Las Vegas. She’s in love with with her best friend Giovanni Costas, the son of one of her father’s soldati. At the end of Tough Love, Clara and her older sister Honor escape their father, who has plans to essentially sell them in marriage to incredibly violent and abusive men. Even though Clara doesn’t want to leave Gio, he stays behind to create a distraction while the sisters get away.
Love the Way You Lie picks up several months later and follows Honor’s attempt to stay hidden from her father and former fiance. While working at the local strip club, The Grand, she meets and falls in love with Kip. By the end of this story, Honor and Clara are safe from their father and removed from the mob world. (You can read my review of Tough Love/Love the Way You Lie HERE.)
The other two full-length books in the series follow two of Honor’s co-workers/friends are The Grand. Better When it Hurts is a second-chance romance between Hannah/Lola (a dancer) and Blue (her former foster brother, and security at The Grand). Pretty When You Cry follows Candace/Candy who is rescued by Ivan (mobster, owner of The Grand) after she escapes from a cult.
But if you’re like me, you’re wondering what in the world happens to Clara and Gio! Is Gio dead? If not, do these two eventually find their way back to each other? Well, Skye finally gives us their story in Hold You Against Me, and it is SO worth the wait! As soon as I had this novel in my hands, I binged it in about 8 hours… but it was so easy to get swept away. Hold You Against Me is so well-written, so compelling that I couldn’t put it down. The pages flew by; it almost felt like I blinked and five chapters would be gone. I LOVE Hold You Against Me and it definitely deserves every one of those five stars!
In Hold You Against Me, we meet Clara eight years after the events of Tough Love/Love the Way You Lie. She’s living a relatively normal life. Clara is enrolled at an art school and she’s a very talented sculptor. In fact, the story begins with Clara debuting a new piece she created for the fountain in front of The Grand commemorating its reopening as a burlesque club. Clara has a hilarious and loyal best friend and an almost pet kitty Lupo. Her relationship with Honor and Kip is as strong as ever, and she even has a boyfriend who’s the star of the football team.
But Clara is far from happy:
“I haven’t been okay in years. Not since the night my sister and I went on the run. Not since the boy I loved gave up his life so we would be safe.”
She can’t let go of Gio’s memory. Clara sees him everywhere… she even unconsciously draws sketches of him. And this seriously hinders her ability to be intimate with her boyfriend (not that he’s that great of a guy…).
However, just when Clara thinks she’s been removed from the mafia lifestyle, a ghost shows up to drag her right back. Gio is NOT dead, but he’s not the 18-year old boy she once loved. In the last eight years Giovanni Costas has experienced torture and loss. But when the opportunity to comes to snatch a piece of that happiness back, he doesn’t hesitate to do so… even if it means kidnapping the girl he loved and yanking her back to the world he almost died to help her escape. Can Clara come to forgive and maybe even love the hardened man that Gio has become?
As I mentioned, I totally devoured Hold You Against Me! I enjoy seeing how Clara and Gio changed over time… and neither of them are unscathed. But the question of whether the people they are now can fall in love is a very interesting one. Of course, there’s the complication of Clara being Gio’s captive of sorts.
From the beginning of the series, Clara has been my favorite character and after this book, it’s still the case. I love how intuitive and discerning she is:
There’s a girl in my Advanced Sculpture class who said that fairy tales are stupid, that she didn’t need a prince to save her. But she doesn’t understand. Fairy tales aren’t for the girls who have a choice. They’re for the girls shoved into corners, trapped in darkness, bent over desks. Places where hope is an act of bravery. Where believing in love is an act of rebellion. Fairy tales are for girls who dream of happy endings, knowing they might not live to see tomorrow.
So profound and honest and true!
Also, can we talk about how evocative Skye Warren’s writing is?! I mean this is just one example of how emotion just pours of her words and her characters.
Slowly, but surely, Clara and Giovanni get to know one another again. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s their sizzling chemistry:
His lips are surprisingly soft and achingly sure. They touch mine with a deliberation that can only be possessive. He can take this much time because he owns me. Because I’m his to do whatever he wants with–and he wants my lips, over and over again. He presses his mouth over mine in a way that would almost be chaste if it weren’t for his hand on my hip or his hot length against my stomach. His tongue swipes across my lip, sending sparks through my body. I shiver, and he does it again.
I don’t want to soften toward him, but God, I already have. I could never really be hard toward him. He’s dragged me back into my worst nightmare and somehow made me want it… As wrong as it is, I want him to soothe me, to make me want this cage.
And here lies the problem… because despite Gio’s claim that he’s keeping her safe, despite his ability to give her everything she wants, he can’t give Clara her freedom. And Clara refuses to abandon her sister and slip back into the violence and confinement of being a mafia princess.
No spoilers, but Hold You Against Me has an interesting and surprisingly satisfying resolution. With that said, there are a few open questions, which suggests the possibility of more Clara/Gio in another story, which I’m 100% HERE for!
This novel is MUSTREAD, especially for those who enjoy dark, erotic, second-chance romance with mafia undertones.
First, read the novella Tough Love. I recommend reading Love the Way You Lie next, but if you’re just dying to get back to Clara and Gio, I think it would be OK to jump to Hold You Against Me. However, the entire Stripped Series needs to be on your TBR list!
Many thanks to the author for an advanced review copy.