Thank you for stopping by on the Never Let You Go blog tour organised by Rock Star PR. I’m really pleased to be sharing my review of this lovely, heartwarming book with you, along with a sneak peek of the inside to whet your appetite for more!
Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.
In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.
Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.
Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.
Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people—once profoundly broken—who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
This book has the ability to tear at your heartstrings from the minute you pick it up. Giving you glimpses into the terror that Griselda and Holden experience as children, living as captors of their kidnapper while they try and embark on their life as adults with those emotional scars still raw.
Whilst this is a romance this isn’t what makes this book unputdownable, it’s the story itself, the raw emotion between the two main characters as they battle with themselves, each other, and those around them for a life they want and believe in but are unsure they deserve.
The chemistry between them is palpable and leaps off of the page, but this isn’t what kept me reading. It was wanting to see them succeed, wanting to see them get justice, to feel satisfied that despite their awful starts in life they could achieve great things and overcome the odds. Isn’t that what we all want?
The characters are well written, believable and honest. The tension is real, and there are many very uncomfortable moments, which if you’ve been through any kind of abuse or violence you will find very difficult to read as they hit close to the mark. It is worth noting at this point none of these stray into sexual abuse. However, these are subjects which are delicately handled and with such a beautiful outcome.
It would be so wonderful to read more about Griselda and Holden in the future, I felt so connected to their characters and it was a shame the story had to end.
Q&A with Author:
What can readers expect from Never Let You Go?
Never Let You Go is a re-boot of the Grimm fairytale, Hansel and Gretel, and like most fairy tales, it has its fair share of villains and hardship before the hero and heroine arrive at their happily-ever-after. In Never Let You Go, Holden and Griselda are unrelated foster siblings who are abducted as children. Three years later, they attempt to escape, but while Griselda makes it, Holden doesn’t. He’s consigned to life alone with their abductor, while she escapes into a life of guilt and relentless sorrow. Ten years later they find one another again, but they have adult lives that don’t include each other and the rest of the story is about how they build a life together. Most readers are telling me that they cry their way through the story (watch out, Carnage, I’m cornering my own Kleenex market!) because it is an emotional roller coaster of a love story. So buckle up and pull on your big girl panties…this fairy tale ain’t no Disney version.
What inspired the book?
My Shih-Tzu, Gretl, whom I loved very much, passed away last August and I am not very good at grieving. I am good at taking action. I want to stay busy so I don’t cry…or stay busy while I’m crying. Gretl had the kindest, sweetest heart of any dog I’ve ever known and I started thinking about a dog who was the antithesis of Gretl…mean and vicious. I thought, “A mean and vicious dog would hurt people. No! Would hurt children. Would huntchildren.” The first character I created in Never Let You Go was Cutter, a hound who appears in the prologue, tracking Griselda and Holden as they try to escape. In the dedication of Never Let You Go, it reads, “For Gretl, who was nothing like Cutter. My grief started this journey. We miss your gentle spirit.”
What did you enjoy most about writing the book?
I loved Holden and Griselda so much and I would get ridiculously excited writing their reactions to each other. I put myself in their shoes and imagined how I would feel to be re-united with the love of my life after ten brutal years apart. The joy and uncertainty and hope and worry and fear…what a cavalcade of emotion. It was an author’s dream to write them! I was really swoony over this story. I swear, I had a writing hangover for weeks when it was finished. I wanted to jump back inside and hang out with them some more…they just felt incredibly real to me.
Excerpt from Never Let You Go:
This girl. Everything about this girl made him want, made him long, made him yearn to change his life, start his life, finally live his life after a decade of going through the motions. He wanted to get a better job to take care of her. He wanted to stop fighting because she disapproved of it. He wanted enough money to have every tally mark lasered from his arm. He wanted some sort of guarantee that she’d never, ever leave him again. And he wanted all of it now. Yesterday. Ten years ago, and every day since.
Standing up slowly, he let his body settle into an upright position before taking his time crossing the hall to the bathroom and then heading out into the common room.
She stood at the stove with her back to him, her feet bare, her hair in a ponytail, the mouthwatering smell of fried chicken filling the entire cabin with goodness. Holden leaned against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest, a grin taking over his face as he watched her.
“It’s just the thought of you—the very thought of you, my love,” she sang, using a fork to transfer a golden leg to a paper towel–covered plate.
As she reached forward to turn off the stove, some of the leftover grease in the frying pan spat up at her and burned her wrist.
“Ow!” she yelped. “Damn it!”
With a sudden rush of adrenaline, Holden crossed the kitchen in two strides. He turned on the faucet and grabbed her arm to thrust her wrist under the cold stream. He held it there, wincing at the red blotch developing on her white skin. When he lifted his eyes to hers, she was staring at him with a surprised, curious expression.
“It’s just a little burn.”
He shrugged, still holding her arm, staring down at the burn.
“You were asleep,” she said.
“You were singing.”
“You remember that song?”
He slid his palm down her arm to cradle her wrist from below.
“The stove’s still on,” she said.
Without dropping her hand, he took a step closer to her, reached around her waist with his free hand, and flicked the burner off.
“I made fried chicken,” she said softly, her cheeks flushed.
“I can smell it.”
“You like fried chicken. I mean . . . you must have mentioned it to me a hundred times when we were—”
“It’s still my favorite.”
They were both silent for a few seconds, and Holden knew he should drop her hand and step away from her, but he couldn’t. She’d hurt herself doing something kind for him, and it just about shredded his heart.
Just another moment, he told himself. A few more seconds touching her and then I’ll move away.
“Sorry about the singing,” she whispered, unmoving, her breath kissing his throat.
He jerked his neck to face her, his thumb curling into her palm, his eyes searching hers for mercy.
“I loved it,” he murmured.
She stepped forward, closing the distance between them, her lips parting, her breasts grazing his chest through his T-shirt as she stared up at him.
“Holden, I . . .”
Every breath she took seemed to draw him closer to her, as if she was breathing him, not air.
He leaned forward, into her, his free hand reaching for hers.
“Griselda . . .”
Her eyes, dark blue and churning, flicked to his lips, lingered there, then slid back up his face and seized his.
His self-control snapped.
After all, he was only human.
About Katy Regnery:
Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract for a winter romance entitled By Proxy.
Now a hybrid author who publishes both independently and traditionally, Katy claims authorship of the six-book Heart of Montana series, the six-book English Brothers series, and a Kindle Worlds novella entitled Four Weddings and a Fiasco: The Wedding Date. Katy’s short story “The Long Way Home” appears in the first Romance Writers of America anthology, Premiere, and she has published two stand-alone novels, Playing for Love at Deep Haven and the Amazon bestseller The Vixen and the Vet, which is book one in Katy’s a m o d e r n f a i r y t a l e collection. The Vixen and the Vet was nominated for a RITA® Award in 2015.
Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.
Katy Regnery Links:
Katy LOVES connecting with her readers and answers every e-mail, message, tweet, and post personally! Click below to connect with Katy!