Title: Hold You Against Me
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year: CreateSpace Publishing 5/31/16
Length: 312 pages
Series: Stripped #4
My sister and I barely managed to escape alive, and we’ve lived in relative hiding ever since. I’m safe now, but I can never forget the boy who gave his life to save mine.
Except there’s a chance that he’s still alive. And he’s fighting a war.
Even knowing the risks, I have to find him. I have to find some way to protect him, the way he protected me. But he isn’t the boy I left behind. He’s a violent man. A criminal. And he’s been waiting for me–the final pawn in a dark game of survival and love.
I like the tone of this story as it’s a bit different than that of the others. We have spent so much time Grand adjacent in the prior installments, that it’s nice to get this one – a shift away from the Grand and back to a place that no one expected to go. There was a novella earlier in the series about Clara, giving us a sense of what she and Honor went through when they escaped. We got to see how a boy named Gio fell in love with Clara and helped them get away from an environment where they were both in danger. We assumed that would be the end of things – knowing that when the girls got away, someone would have to suffer, and yet while there was suffering, the story didn’t end there.
Fast forward about eight years and we find ourselves on the night of Clara’s sculpture unveiling. We saw this unfold in the last book – seeing that she was there to give beauty to the newly opened Grand and then she disappears. The message that she left Amy in that book was one that implied she left on her own, but what we see in this story, that’s not the case at all.
Her past has come back, and what she thought she knew of Gio isn’t the case at all. Gone is the boy who was caring, emotional and loving. In his place is the man that has taken over the Family – he’s now the leader of the Mafia in Las Vegas and that means that there’s danger all around. He wanted her eight years ago and he wants her even more now. Not just for how he felt then since he’s convinced himself that neither of them are worthy of that, but because of her lineage – because of who she is. Clara will secure his position in the family and he’ll have everything that he worked for. survived for.
The story from here is one of watching a captor take and own what’s his. He isn’t a nice man, he’s not a fair man – and that’s what we have expected. Clara though is still the same sweet girl – the one who may have grown up, but who wants to believe that there’s something that can be done to get under the walls of ice that have formed. She schemes to get her freedom, befriends the wrong people. Tries to escape time and time again to no avail, and then is forced into a marriage. The one thing that she feared the most when she was living with her father and now it’s her present and future.
We watch this roller coaster unfold. The dance these two do around each other – hating each other because of the circumstances that they are finding themselves, yet loving each other because their hearts and souls were promised to each other all those years ago. There’s innocence lost, there’s hardened walls found and there’s uncertainty for what the future holds.
The sub plot here of course is that Gio’s mother has been taken by one of his adversaries and they need to find her. At the same time, Clara needs to get news to her sister that she’s alive and ‘ok’ and she chooses to trust the wrong person – a person who’s connected to the enemy and has motives to do them all harm.
We don’t get the closure necessarily that we need, which means that there has to be another book to continue this story. I can’t wait to see how that plays out because when a mafioso goes missing, you know he’s going to turn up in a bad way….and there will be a lot of collateral damage.
Mix into that some steamy rekindled love and passion, and well what we have is a great fourth book to this series. onto the next one and Enjoy!