Book Review: Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden

This series has been pretty intense, but so fun! While I had a hard time connecting with the hero in the first one (who still comes across as an alpha-hole), this book and the last book have kept me hooked.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A member of a motorcycle club returns to town to find out that not only is he attracted to his best friend from before he left, but that she’s joined up with his club’s biggest rivals and the ones they believe killed their president. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Hail to the King
With a name like Leonidas, the hero was bound to be sexy, right? I dig that name, though not just anyone could pull it off. He’s got that standard biker attitude (at least as they’re portrayed in these books), though he’s nowhere near as intense as Ajax. and when he decides to claim the woman who used to be his best friend and now raises his inner thermostat, he’s pretty dominating about it. Which left me conflicted, because while it was hot, it was also a little scary.

Family Affair
Alice’s priority in life is family, but circumstances have taken that away from her. First she lost the club she’d called a family, including her best friend, and then she lost the chance at having a family of her own. When she joined up with the Deacons’ rivals, she did so out of loneliness and the need belong to. Her reasons are sound…even if the Deacons don’t see it that way. I also liked that she was a mechanic and seemed to be able to hold her own with the clubs.

Friends & Lovers
Leon and Alice were best friends when they were young, and as the story progresses, each one starts to remember how attracted they were to the other one. Since they didn’t think the feelings were mutual and so never acted on them. It makes it that much better when they come together as adults and give in to those feelings.

Where Is This Going?
The overall story arc has gotten intense, and I love how as the reader, I can definitely feel that we’re coming in on a climax (hehehe) to the story. I think that the excellent pacing is even better because of the multiple authors. Talk about team players.


President Douchcanoe
While I enjoyed this book and had fun reading it, I was also conflicted about several things. First, if I disliked Ajax in the first book, I loathed him in this one. He’s such a complete douche who sees things in black and white, and it gets really old after awhile. The thing is, the books were written by different authors, and this highlights how different writers of the series see these characters. While I don’t like him as a character, I like the difference viewpoints that come across from the different people writing the books.

The Question of Consent
I liked Leon/Blue, I really did. And I wanted him and Alice to be together because I bought that they really did love each other. But there’s a whole scene where she’s basically telling him she doesn’t want him to touch her and he’s doing it anyway. But I’m a firm believer in “no means no,” so I had a really hard time with that. Sure, it might have been appropriate in the context of the book, but it still drove me nuts.


The Romance Factor
Despite the whole ownership thing (which went from being sweet in the last book to a little scary in this one), I loved the way the characters realized how much they loved the other one, especially Leon when he realized that he’d been kind of an ass. The fact that Alice was part of the rival club brought a lot of conflict, so there was a tension through the whole book that played into how fun it was to read. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Oh man. The sexy times between these two are hot, even more so when they happen in a public area with the possibility of anyone walking in on them. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Not only am I excited to see the final story, which is about the club member that nobody really seems to like, but I also can’t wait to see how the story turns out, as it took a bit of a twist in this one. I’ll be sad to end this series, but it’s given me some new authors to read. I also can’t decide if it’s primed me to enjoy MC novels or if it’s ruined me for others I try to read in the future that just don’t live up.

Vindicate by Beth Yarnall

I tend to stick to certain tropes and subgenres of romance. This one was a little bit outside of what I normally read, but it looked interesting, and sometimes I get in the mood to expand my horizons.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman working desperately to free her brother from jail tries to resist her attraction to the man who offered to help her with the case. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
The writing was good, and I liked Cora’s character. She’s damaged, but she has a good reason to be. She’s put her life on hold to free her brother from prison, and that alone leads to much of the personal conflict of the story.

I won’t give any spoilers, but the ending hit me in the feels, and even though there was much of the book I was a little lukewarm on, the ending made it worth it.


Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I think the characters were in their early 20s, but they felt so much younger. Other than the few sex scenes, I felt like I was reading a YA novel. I’m not stating this as a negative against YA novels or against this book. But I felt like the general tone was a little younger than I’m used to.

The cover for this book bothered me. It has nothing to do with the story, other than the hero being good looking. In fact, the cover makes me think it should have a sports theme.


The Romance Factor
The romance felt a little lacking. Leo starts out as kind of a jack ass, and it’s hard to get past that. Cora is resistant to him because she doesn’t want a relationship to distract her from helping her brother, so there is a dose of angst and conflict. But for me, the mystery part of the book definitely overshadowed the romance. 2/5

The Steam Factor
Though I didn’t buy into the romance as much, I thought the steamy parts of this book were fairly erotic in a “gentleman meets virgin” kind of way. And though Leo wasn’t much of a gentleman at the beginning, he sort of redeems himself by not jumping Cora the first chance he gets, even if she wants him to. That whole “we’re going to do stuff…but not that” vibe was fun. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I think I became a little too critical because of that cover, and because for the first half of the book, I kept reading the main characters as if they were 16. As a romance, it didn’t hit any buttons, but the mystery and drama were good and I came away feeling satisfied when all was said and done.