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Joint Review – Don’t Let Go (Hope #6) by Jaci Burton

Reviewed by: E & Marlene

E: Somehow over the blur of the last 1.5 ~ 2 years I missed most of Burton’s Hope series. When I received this in the mail and early in the text spotted a reference I remembered from Twitter, I thought this had potential to be a story I could sink into. Overall I found Don’t Let Go a cute read and when I finished reading, I was curious about the other relationships so I went back and picked up the books I had missed.

Marlene: I’ve not only read the entire Hope series, I’ve reviewed them all here at the Book Pushers. Sometimes with partners in crime, and other times all by my lonesome. I’ve generally enjoyed the books but they haven’t been a WOW! As E says, a cute read.

E: Wedding and baby fever seems to have taken over Hope with most of Megan’s group of friends married, pregnant, or engaged and she was looking forwards to meeting the new little ones and celebrating the next marriage. Megan liked to bake and feed people so owning her own bakery and bringing treats to group gathering provided a pretty good life. The descriptions of her baked goods made me want to visit a bakery. And if sometimes she felt a little wistful about not being in a relationship or having a baby of her own to cuddle that was perfectly normal, as was her attraction to the town’s mysterious man Brady.

Brady returned to Hope, Oklahoma, his hometown, after the death of his older brother. He came back to help his parents but all three of them seemed stuck in the same place, unable to move forward and just going through the motions of living. Brady had plans for the future but instead of doing anything he continued to work his day job, pull extra jobs on the side, save his money, sleep, and eat. He refused to build any connections or friendships with those around him because connections meant feeling and feeling meant pain and loss. But somehow he couldn’t stop thinking about Megan.

Marlene: The endless descriptions of Megan’s baked goods made my mouth water. I will say that for someone who lives in a bakery and cooks all the time, it was not just amazing but a little bit mind-blowing that Megan seems to be a perfect size 2 or 4. I was expecting her to be a little zaftig, and it would have been nice to have a curvy girl as one of the heroines in this series.

That being said, I liked Megan. Just as with nearly all the heroines in this series, Megan is someone who has her life together. She would like to find the right man for her own happily ever after, but she has made a good life for herself and she recognizes that it is good. She doesn’t need to be rescued.

And now I’m going to get up on my soapbox for a minute, so bear with me. There is a lot of baby fever in this book, which is not necessarily my favorite trope. However, there’s a scene in the beginning that raises a topic that never fails to set my teeth on edge. Two of the women are nine months pregnant, and some of the others are about to be married and looking forward to having children at some point in the future. Two of the women say they are not ready for children, or not thinking about them at the moment. And every woman in the room piles on to tell them that they will change their mind when the right man comes along. As though childbearing is every woman’s mission in life. There is more than enough pressure surrounding this topic without baking it into romancelandia.

Dismounting soapbox now.

E: I think I really had three favorite parts of this story. The first involved Megan and her friends. I laughed every time they got together because I could see them weaving bonds out of their differences and similarities as they ate delicious food and gave each other advice. The second was the group of guys. They were all loyal to each other and at the same time willing to open up and let others join the group. They helped each other out as needed and for the most part seemed like a pretty good bunch. My third favorite was the relationship Brady developed with his rescue puppy. This was the relationship, which allowed me to see who Brady really was and could be.

Marlene: Little Roxie steals the show. In every book in this series, there has been a canine companion who has brought out the unexpected best in his or her human, and Roxie is no exception. Brady finds the tiny mutt abandoned near his apartment, and can’t help but fall for her. In falling for Roxie, we see that he might manage to bring himself out of the isolation he has inflicted upon himself since the death of his brother Kurt.

One of the other themes that runs through this entire series is the joy and sustaining strength of both women’s and men’s friendships. While each of the couples is marvelous together, they are never isolated. These people are close and help each other when necessary. They also enjoy each other’s company and generally have a great (and often hilarious) time together.

E: I will admit I struggled a bit with Brady and Megan. I liked who they were together, I liked who they were around friends but I didn’t like how Brady was willing to take and only give in certain areas. I don’t know how well I would be functioning if I lost a sibling like he lost his brother, but I don’t think I could be intentionally cruel either. I wanted to see Brady grovel more or watch him work his way back into Megan’s trust instead of flipping a page and all is perfect. As utterly devastated Megan was I thought she needed more. I did like how Brady went back and cleaned up things with several people including his parents instead of leaving the rest in limbo but again I wanted a bit more. His emotional detachment was one of the huge points of conflict in this story and I felt somewhat cheated of the payoff.

Despite my complaints I did enjoy reading most of Don’t Let Go and I want to see where Burton goes with two characters who don’t quite seem to be completely over each other…

I give Don’t Let Go a B-

Marlene: The way that Brady and Megan’s relationship develops was slow and steady with a whole lot of simmering heat. They were both gun-shy of a relationship, but coming from different places. That Brady was withdrawn in the aftermath of his brother’s death, and that he suffered from a whole lot of survivor’s guilt made sense. But the way that he treats Megan when it overtakes him was a major jerk move. While for the HEA to work she had to eventually take him back, she was much, much too easy on him. He should have had to earn his way back, because the next time he withdraws, she’s going to be rightfully worried that he’ll just cut and run again. He has work to do and it didn’t happen.

However, like my friend E I did enjoy reading Don’t Let Go. This is a series where I just like the characters, and want to see how they are doing, even if a particular couple doesn’t ring my bell. And I’m looking forward to that same next story that E is.

I also give Don’t Let Go a B-

Links to purchase:

By Marlene

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in Atlanta. She and her husband are owned by three cats, just ask them. She's a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She's also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads.

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