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Somebody on my friends list was really pushing me to read this and I'm sorry I can't remember who because I'm normally really hard to please, but I actually did enjoy this book a lot more than I thought I would. I'm a science-fiction girl at heart, having been reared on Star Trek and Star Wars, and space opera is especially near and dear to me. Whenever I find a science-fiction/futuristic romance, I always get really excited, because it's basically the equivalent of all my adolescent self's mental head cannons.
HOLD has a really great premise. It's set on a prison planet, where the prisoners are kept beneath a poisonous sea. Any violation of any sort results in imprisonment, and once you get there, there's no getting off. It's a violent free for all, in the vein of Battle Royale, with resources, food, and safety all completely up in the air unless you're one of the strongest. A sympathetic guard tells Riana at the beginning of her imprisonment that her only chance for survival is to find the strongest man there and offer herself to him in exchange for protection.
Said man is Cain, a lone wolf figure who doesn't play with the social hierarchy of the prison planet, but is respected nonetheless for his superior strength and odd but innate sense of violent justice. He fights another man for Riana and she ends up living in his cell, the only lockable one in the prison. At first, Riana finds him terrifying, but even though he's rough and scary, he isn't cruel and there's a hesitant tenderness in some of his interactions with her that is actually quite endearing.
I don't normally go in for the super-alpha caveman type guys, but if you're going to write them, this is a great example of how to do it. He had street smarts and wasn't an abusive jerk, and his possessiveness could be attractive at times. I will say that the beginning of this book was a lot better than the end, and the plot definitely got derailed by what I considered to be a superfluous amount of sex scenes that were a bit too sloppily written and written too similarly, at that. This book originally gave me R. Lee Smith vibes, and I think if it had been longer and less smutty and more plot-based, it could have given Smith a run for her money. But it ended up being kind of a trashy, throwaway read because of the sex scenes, which were way too cheesy and used some words I really don't like.
If you're looking for a futuristic romance that won't make you gnash your teeth, and enjoy cheesy erotica novels with alpha guys, this will probably be your cup of tea. I did enjoy it but I'm not sure I'd read further in the series than this, even though I did like Hall (the hero of the next book) a lot.
3 out of 5 stars