To Have and to Hold: A Returning Home Novel
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Contemporary Romance, Military
Reviewed by Kini
The reunion is supposed to be the start of the rest of their lives. But when Trina Levine sees the soldier she promised to love forever, Hunter Cross looks at her like she’s a stranger. The connection is gone, lost in the blank stare of those soulful brown eyes. Hunter remembers his young daughter but not Trina, and he certainly can’t recall why Trina and her own child are living in his house. Although his lean, rugged frame bears the scars of battle, his mind took the worst hit.
But Hunter Cross hasn’t forgotten everything. His body remembers caressing Trina’s delicate curves, holding her close, never wanting to let go. Was it just a dream, or was it real life? Now, as he tries to put the pieces back together, Trina’s the one who comforts him when his night terrors strike. It’s Trina whose warm touch rekindles a connection no man could deny. Even with the odds stacked against them, Hunter wants to believe. Because passion has the power to awaken the past—and remake the future.
This is third in a series where the heroes are or were in the military. I think it will stand alone well. I really enjoy this author’s voice, as she writes an emotional and touching stories. The book opens with Trina and Hunter having spent a couple of months together right before he leaves for his latest deployment. Hunter is a widower, his wife died a few years back. Trina has graciously offered to care for Hunter’s daughter while he is away. She has a daughter the same age, so it works out really well. Hunter vows that when he returns, they will become a family. They seem to have found a nice rhythm together in a short time and bring out the best in each other.
“He made her want to be Trina, exactly who she was when she woke up in the morning, without ornamentation or decoration. And that was- she knew without a doubt- who he’d fallen in love with.”
Flash forward not quite a year, Hunter returns from his deployment. He has suffered an injury, with no clear head trauma, but when he steps off the plane, he realizes that while he knows Trina it doesn’t feel right. He almost immediately recognizes that something is wrong. I LOVED that the author didn’t grad out Hunter’s realization that he is missing parts of his memory and didn’t take him long to seek treatment. It easily could have dragged out because he’s a manly military man and all that nonsense.
Trina is pretty much devastated to learn of Hunter’s memory loss. She’s sad for herself, Hunter and of course each of their daughters. She had been living at Hunter’s house while he was away and sublet her crappy apartment. Trina feels like the best thing to do is to leave and allow Hunter to recuperate without her around. Without the pressure of the love she has for him hanging over them.
The story takes place over a very short period of time. I found this very well done. It didn’t feel rushed, but rather just felt like a normal life with lots of things happening, but not unnaturally. Trina decides that she and her daughter Phoebe will go to LA to give Trina the chance to be an interior designer and Phoebe to get to know her absentee father. As it gets close to the time that Trina and Phoebe leave, she opts to stay a little longer for many reasons, but a lot to do with leaving Clara, Hunter’s daughter.
Hunter definitely feels a safeness with and attraction to Trina. But he also struggled with his loss of memory and how some things felt so familiar, yet so very different. He had several dreams where things felt more real to him, including his feelings for Trina, and then upon waking some of the feelings stayed, but not all.
It had been like waking from a dream of love to the reality of solitude.
Trina never pressures Hunter to remember their love. Of course she wants him to remember what they had between him, but she realizes that her wants do not supercede his need to heal on his own. She also recognizes that the likelihood that he may never remember is a real possibility. But this is the rom-world, so we know that they will probably end up together. Trina hears Hunter crying out in his sleep on several occasions, she ends up in his bedroom. The physical declarations of feelings definitely come fast and easy for them. In the night and in sleep like states, it is much easier for Hunter to go on feelings. They have some pretty hot and emotional almost and actual sex. They have one encounter that I marked as having a must share quote.
Her eyes were big, with bruised shadows beneath. Her mouth soft and red and kissed. She looked scared and uncertain. She looked like he felt.
This story is pretty much a rekindled romance. As Hunter and Trina had love before, they just need to find it together again. I enjoyed the journey with them. As this is technically part of a series, characters from the first two books make brief appearances, but it is not necessary to know them in advance. The author gives a refresher in case you don’t remember them or haven’t read the previous books. The book does contains some flashbacks of Hunter’s time in the military that may be hard to read for some, probably typical war type of stuff. I really liked Hunter and Trina and reading their story as they found their way back to each other.
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