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cover88508-mediumTo Have and to Hold

A Returning Home Novel

by Serena Bell

In this emotionally charged novel from the bestselling author of Hold on Tight (“Sweet, sexy, and real.”—Jessica Scott), a war hero fights to remember the love he left behind—and the woman who refuses to fade away.

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.

Based on the blurb, I think I expected something a little different than what I got.  For some reason I read that as Trina fighting for Hunter but in reality it is something so much more complicated.

We start with Hunter coming home and not recognizing Trina, but at that time he doesn’t realize that he’s lost a year of his memory.  With all the hub-bub of getting him healthy and home no one recognized that there were gaps … until he comes back and finds Trina waiting for him, obvious signs that she’s more than just a friend.

I feel so bad for both Hunter and Trina.  He’s freaked out by the memory loss and because of his first marriage very hesitant about giving his heart to anyone again.  Finding that he’d apparently started a relationship with Trina sometime during his missing year only adds to his stress.  Without any basis for it, and only remembering what happened with his wife, he’s not ready to try to rekindle anything.

Trina doesn’t have a good history with men.  She got pregnant in high school, only to have the boy chase his dreams and leave her & the baby behind.  She wasn’t necessarily looking to fall in love but Hunter convinced her to trust him with her heart … only to break it when he doesn’t remember her.  With an opportunity to go to California so her daughter can be near her dad, and without Hunter as a reason to stay, Trina starts packing.

But first Hunter talks her into staying just until he can get comfortable in his home and with his daughter again.  Lots has changed in a year, especially with a preteen girl, and he needs a little help to get settled.  The only problem is having Trina in his home, and knowing that they had something together, makes the situation even more complicated.

There’s such a jumbled mess of emotions in this house – the girls don’t want to be separated (from each other or Trina & Hunter), Trina started to love again only to have it turn on its head, and Hunter is scared and confused.  Bell does a fantastic job of showing their confusion, heartache and hope.  And of delivering a fantastic HEA ending.