Narrated by Samantha Cook
Hold Her Again is Shannon Stacey’s 2017 Christmas themed novella. She releases one every year and they’re an auto-read/listen for me. The narration of this one greatly added to my enjoyment and helped me get over my misgivings about one issue with the plot.
Jace Morrow and Ava Wright grew up together in Cottonwood Creek, Missouri. They were both singers and six years before the story begins, they had left their hometown to try their luck in the music industry in St. Louis. While there, a big-wig agent “discovered” Jace. She told Ava that she’d never be a start but that Jace had what it takes – alone. And Jace walked.
Ava, heartbroken, went back to Cottonwood Creek to work in her parents’ diner. She stopped writing songs and put away her dreams of singing for a living.
Now, some six years after that heartbreak, Jace is back in town to arrange his father’s funeral and attend to his property. Jace and his dad did not have a good relationship. Jace’s dad was abusive. So even though the reason Jace is back in town is, on its face, sad, Jace isn’t grief-stricken. He is hoping to see Ava again. He never stopped loving her and regrets walking away from her all those years ago. He even wrote a song about it – it was his first hit “Hold Her Again”. Ava hates that song. She gave up listening to country music because she couldn’t bear to hear Jace on the radio singing about how she was the one big regret of his life.
While in town, Jace and Ava reconnect. All the old feelings are still there. The problem is that what Jace did was pretty harsh. I’m not 100% convinced that I could move on from that and have a HEA with the man who discarded me as an inconvenience to his career. Ava, of course, is not me. But, still, I had some doubts about whether what Jace had done was just a bridge too far.
Ms. Stacey explains the decision and even has Ava saying at one point that she may have done the same thing had she been in Jace’s shoes but I wasn’t entirely buying it.
I decided to put that to one side and go with it. On that basis the story was a success. The Jace of today is a good guy and he clearly loves Ava. Ava knows that to have a HEA with Jace she has to forgive him for what he did and she can’t be forever thinking of all the things he did without her. I wonder if that’s truly possible? Would it be a poison that would fester? Ava said she’d forgiven Jace so I guess I should take her at her word.
So, I’m a little conflicted. On the level where I accepted Ava had put the past behind her and moved on, I could completely enjoy the story and the Christmas HEA. On the level where I had my doubts? Well, like I said, conflicted.
The narration was very good indeed. Samantha Cook’s performance reminded me quite a bit of the way Sophie Eastlake narrates – they’re different people but there was something about the tone and expression that was used that made me think of Ms. Eastlake. As Sophie Eastlake is one of my favourite narrators, this was a huge plus for me.
The emotion, the pacing and characterisation were all pitch-perfect. I enjoyed the narration so much that it was easier for me to get over my uncertainty about whether Jace deserved a second chance. My only real criticism of the narrative performance was that when Ava was talking to her best friend and cousin, Whitney, I could not always tell who was speaking they sounded to similar to my ear. All of the other characters were well-differentiated but there were quite a few scenes with just Ava and Whitney and there weren’t always dialogue tags to assist me.
That is a pretty small criticism however. For the most part, the narration was made of win.
Maybe if the gap between Jace walking away and Ava and Jace getting their HEA was smaller I’d have been less conflicted about the story. As it was, I wasn’t entirely sure why Jace waited nearly 6 years to make things right.
Even so, I liked everything else about Hold Her Again – including the snatches of song lyrics penned by the author and scattered throughout the novella.
TITLE: Hold Her Again
AUTHOR: Shannon Stacey
NARRATED BY: Samantha Cook
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
STEAM FACTOR: 4
REVIEWER: KaetrinBuy Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey on Amazon EXCERPT: