Review – Hold ‘Em by Katie Porter

Hold 'Em cover image
Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the author

Daughter of a world-famous motocross champion, and head-on competitor with three brothers, Captain Leah “Princess” Girardi was born with a need for speed. No one tells her what to do, especially not men with chauvinistic “girls can’t be fighter pilots” attitudes.

That’s what ended her brief relationship with Captain Mike “Strap Happy” Templeton. Now, six years later, he’s been assigned to her squadron, and whoa damn, he’s filled out nicely. Plus he’s cultivated a Zen-like chill factor that pulls at her hormones.

Even after four tours, Mike’s the new kid in the 64th Aggressor Squadron. That’s not the only thing new. Since he last saw Leah, he’s learned a few things about himself. A female who outranks him still makes his teeth grind, but in the bedroom he craves the rush of pain inflicted by an adoring, powerful woman.

Their reunion is an explosive revelation. Leah is the beautiful mistress he’s been searching for, and she takes to her new role like a natural. But Leah’s aware one thing hasn’t changed. Loving him is still an all-or-nothing proposition. She’s not sure her reckless streak is wide enough to risk her career—and her heart.

Warning: This book contains a hot stud on his knees, a woman wielding a paddle, and filthy-gorgeous femdom sex. Also: dangerous rock climbing, two amazing motorcycles and some bad tequila.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.

I have been enjoying the journey provided by Katie Porter with their first two books in their Vegas Top Guns series. Each book provided a little more insight not only into the main characters for that book but the supporting cast as well. Leah and her behavior have been a definite presence throughout the series so far but it seemed as if she was getting more self-destructive. I was glad to see Leah working on straightening out her life outside of work towards the end of Inside Bet but I wasn’t sure how she was going to deal with the changes in her group of friends. Her best guy buddies have each found themselves a special person in their lives so now Leah is more of the third or fifth wheel. When I read the blurb for Hold “Em I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to think because it is rather hard to find BDSM stories featuring a Female Dom that don’t have a pushover for the hero. I was very glad to see when I came up for air after finishing Hold ‘Em that Michael didn’t have any familiarity with the words “pushover.” In addition to the growing relationship between Leah and Michael, Porter took a very careful balancing act between work, private life, and some of the dangers of a BDSM relationship while keeping the characters realistic in their thoughts, hopes and fears.

Porter took one of the tropes that I enjoy with the second chance at love. Leah and Michael had been involved before but neither was mature enough to make the relationship work. Leah needed something more in their sex life and respect for her goals to become a fighter pilot. Michael didn’t think much of women fighter pilots, not that they couldn’t do the job but that they shouldn’t. Women should be protected. He also didn’t know what he was missing in his sexual life. Their unfinished business was evident in their very first meeting when Leah was assigned as Michael’s sponsor. I think one of my favorite parts of this book was their very first date that wasn’t a date. The running commentary in Michael’s mind as he debated what to tell Leah, what to show her, and where to take their mutual sexual attraction complete with a flowchart based on her actions and responses was a hoot. I could almost see that chart or a variation on it popping up as they continued their relationship.

I really liked how Michael made it clear that he was only submissive and into pain when it involved sex nothing else. That kept him out of the complete “pushover” category for me. But at the same time that raised a concern of mine. Leah out-ranks Michael and she is his trainer for his new assignment. This meant professionally Michael was subordinate to her and she would be telling him what to do. I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to separate the fact that Leah was in charge between work and their private relationship. Without giving away any spoilers I really liked how they managed to work that out after a rocky beginning.

When I looked at both Leah and Michael from their original relationship to the maturity and growth of the characters at the end of Hold ‘Em it was amazing the changes that occurred. Most of Michael’s growth was off-screen prior to his assignment to the 64th Aggressor Squadron. In contrast Leah did most of her growing on-screen and I enjoyed watching her work and struggle at it. The one thing I found disconcerting is how initially Leah had mentally thought that she enjoyed being dominated yet she was able to hit all of the right notes when dominating Michael. While she did show moments of uncertainty it almost worked too well. I am glad that Porter included one of the dangers of BDSM relationships because it helped solidify that Leah wasn’t an experienced Dom and also showed just how much she had invested in her relationship with Michael. That event completely destroyed her foundation and the old Leah resurfaced. Luckily I did get a groveling scene but I think she should have groveled to her friends as well.

Despite the fact that I had a few quibbles I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hold ‘Em. The combination of the character growth, Michael’s self-awareness and patience, and the extremely smokin’ sex scenes made this my favorite of the series so far.
I give Hold ‘Em an A.

Links to purchase:

Kindle | Nook | Samhain

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