Book Review: Hard to Hold by Incy Black

Hard to HoldHard to Hold by Incy Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna Key Marshall is about to get what she’s always wanted: a baby. Granted, it’s through a sperm donor instead of her ex-husband, but you can’t have everything. She has no idea why someone wants her dead, but she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her unborn child—even if it means turning to her ex, the Black Ops specialist who broke her heart. 

Five years ago, British Intelligence agent Nick Marshall slammed the door on the woman who betrayed him. But now Anna’s back in his life with a vengeance, pregnant and full of attitude. He’d like nothing better than to walk away, but with her life on the line, he has no choice but to do what he does best—protect her at all costs. 
As old wounds resurface, Nick begins to doubt his version of what went down with Anna so long ago. And he begins to believe they might have a second chance together. But with Anna’s would-be killer on the loose—it will take the full force and fury of his protective instincts, fueled by a powerful love he can’t leave behind, to hold on to the woman he still loves. 


When I was given the opportunity to read this novel in return for an honest review, I eagerly accepted, as I love nothing more than reading an author’s debut. Apart from the need to satisfy a craving for another exciting story, I am generally curious to read work by another author, to discover their voice, their style, and whether or not they can keep me turning the page.

After starting just a few days ago, I read the second half of Hard to Hold in one evening and closed the last ‘page’ on my kindle just before midnight. I loved the opening, which throws you right into the action and the conflict immediately, including the love/hate relationship between the heroine, Anna, and her ex-husband, Nick.

In this romantic suspense novel, Anna Key Marshall quickly finds that she’s a target – someone’s trying their best to get rid of her. To add insult to injury, Nick Marshall reappears in her life after five years of separation, much to her annoyance, and because of his status – an agent within the British Intelligence Service – he has no choice but to protect his former spouse and get to the bottom of whoever is making attempts on her life. No easy feat when the woman he once loved (and still does) keeps complicating matters further. In his opinion, she’s just a magnet for trouble, and he’d rather not get involved. The problem is, the history between the pair runs too deep for him to leave her future – and the dangerous plight she’s found herself in – in the hands of the Service.

Ms Black’s voice oozes dry wit and sarcasm, which is portrayed through both characters as they fight not only each other, but the attraction which still burns between them. Although I found there to be quite a lot of introspection within the story, the dialogue is sharp and the story is intense as both of these well-flawed characters try to outwit one another in a struggle of emotional self-preservation, as well as trying to protect each other. Add into the mix the author’s ability to write a great action scene and an antagonist to make your skin crawl, and you have yourself a page turner. This suspenseful novel is tightly woven and neatly wrapped up, with a nice little twist at the end.

4.5 stars from me. Great first novel, Incy Black, I look forward to your next one.


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Liebster Award

liebster awardIncy Black has nominated me for the Liebster Award. Having never received one of these awards, I had a quick Google to discover what an honour it is to be nominated, as it’s a brilliant way to discover new blogs and give fellow bloggers the recognition they deserve.

The best part about this digital award is that it’s not the same set of questions each time – as each blogger gets to choose their own questions for the next set of nominees.

The rules are as follows:

1. Display the Liebster Award logo on your blog (as above)

2. Link back to the person who has nominated you – thanks Incy Black!

3. Answer the ten questions posed (I love the questions Incy has asked here)

4. Create ten questions of your own

5. Choose your own nominations to continue the fun


So here are my answers to some excellent questions:


1.    Jeans or skirt? Why?

Jeans every time. I hate wearing tights. As a child I hated the way they got twisted around my legs. As an adult, I just don’t do constrictive clothing.

2.    If you were a vegetable, what would you be? Why?

I’d be a potato. Potatoes are such a versatile ingredient, apart from being a staple food, they’re full of essential vitamins and nutrition. Add some butter and you have almost a complete meal. Rumour has it that somewhere in the world, potatoes are used to make vodka. I could live with becoming vodka. What fun it would be to make people drunk.

3.    Banana or apple? Why?

Banana – they make a better breakfast.

4.    By the sea or up a mountain? Why?

By the sea. I love the sound of the waves shushing on the sand and the shrieks of children’s laughter carried on the wind while the motorboats growl and bump across the water.

5.    You’re writing a highly erotic novel—what would your pen name be?

I can’t tell you that, because then you’ll know it’s me when it’s released. *blushes*

6.    What is your favourite romance genre? To read? To write?

To read – contemporary or paranormal. To write – technically I should say time-travel considering that was the first novel I wrote. But it was quite possibly one of the hardest, most challenging things I have done (childbirth aside). So with that in mind, contemporary. Although the time-travel novel was definitely exciting to write, as the heroine had a habit of changing her place in time without any warning.

7.    How difficult do you find it to name your characters? Share some examples.

Leo Santini – the antagonist in Time for Love. He started off as Joe Ephram. I hated it, and his name didn’t suit him. So I started with the surname and had to find something which sounded similar to Joe, which wasn’t easy. Fortunately I came up with Leo Santini – and love his name almost as much as I love him. He might be a baddie, but he’s got his own fair share of demons.

8.    Which writing rule would you most like to break? Why?

The rule about pacing. I’ve only recently discovered that my pacing isn’t as it should be. I had finished the story, but sadly, I can see how the pacing isn’t right and why it’s necessary – there are now some scenes I want to scrap. Which means a further delay in publication. However, I’m a perfectionist. And I’m not sending it out there until it’s right. (Apologies to Emmeline’s fans – I know you’re desperate to read her story).

9.    Duvet or traditional sheets + blanket? Why?

Ooh duvet. I love the way they puff and scrunch up under your chin. Sheets and blankets make me feel claustrophobic.

10.  Insert the opening paragraph of your current WIP.

‘Lottie?’ Gemma sang softly as she looked round at her three-year-old daughter in the back of the car. With delicate, rosy lips parted in sleep, the child’s angel-hair blonde head rested on the back of her car seat. The little girl stirred, frowning as she squeezed her eyes then stretched, succumbing to a deep yawn, her cheeks flushed from sleep.

‘Wakey wakey, sweetheart,’ said Gemma. 

Charlotte blinked a couple of times, her eyes still glassy from sleep, and rubbed her little fists over the lids.

Gemma’s heart squeezed at the sight, a fresh flush of guilt rushing into her core. ‘Are you okay baby?’ she asked. 

Charlotte’s face crumpled as she struggled to comprehend why she had woken up in the car.

‘Where are we, Mummy?’

Gemma rested her head on the headrest as she watched her daughter, the child’s innocence tugging at her heart strings. ‘We’re in a new place, sweetheart. We’re going on an adventure,’ she said.

‘Uh –’ Charlotte looked out of the window, her mouth shaped into a little ‘o’. ‘Where’s Grandma?’

Gemma looked up at the dull white-washed farmhouse ahead. The sun stretched up over the horizon, now visible after turning off the motorway a little over an hour ago. Her aimless driving had led her along a winding road into Dulston, a remote, pretty-as-a-picture village with thatched roofs and chocolate-box cottages. She’d never heard of it.

A distressed, weathered sign pointing to a B&B had lured her down a bumpy, narrow tractor lane. Now, here she was, having followed her instincts, some sixth sense or otherwise guiding her down this path.

This path which seemed eerily quiet.

Perhaps it wasn’t instinctive at all, but a ridiculous, irresponsible action. Perhaps she was actually living with her head in the clouds, as her mother Jeanette would say. 

‘No, darling, Grandma isn’t here. Shall we go and see who is?’ she asked, climbing out of the car and going round to get her daughter. ‘Come on, then,’ she said, unclipping Charlotte’s three-point seat-belt before lifting her out. Gemma hoisted her onto her hip and looked up at the farmhouse, chewing at her lip as she heard the coarse squawk of a nearby crow. She glanced at the sun, guessing it to be around seven a.m., and reasoned a B&B would be getting ready to serve breakfast to the guests. Although, her car was the only one abandoned in front of the tired-looking house, due to the absence of any dedicated parking. She jumped as a pigeon whirred over her head, its wings flapping to a stop on the top of the roof, before quiet descended again. 


As it’s my turn to nominate, I’d like to know the following information from:


Tracey Rogers

Alison Lodge

Calida Ally

Rae Rivers



1. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

2. What do you do when working on a new project, and the old one keeps calling to you to revisit it – or even write a sequel?

3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

4. How do you find the time to write – do you have a set routine?

5. What’s your favourite meal to cook?

6. If you could travel back in time to a particular era, which would you choose and why?

7. What’s your favourite TV programme?

8. Who would you most like to be stranded on a desert island with?

9. If you could choose a famous person, past or present, to have dinner with, who would it be, and why?

10. What is your all-time favourite book?


Over to the new nominees! 🙂

Book Review: The Sicilian’s Unexpected Duty by Michelle Smart

The Sicilian's Unexpected Duty (Irresistible Sicilians, #2)The Sicilian’s Unexpected Duty by Michelle Smart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When innocent Cara Delaney spent a wild weekend with sexy Sicilian Pepe Mastrangelo, she definitely got more than she bargained for. Not only did he leave her high and dry without so much as a goodbye, but she’s found herself tied to him for the rest of her life – with an unexpected pregnancy. Deciding that he should be held accountable for his responsibilities, she approaches him with a deal – he provides for her and the baby financially and she’ll leave him well alone. Except Pepe has his own reasons for refusing to take Cara’s word for it, so forces her into an impossible situation – to reside with him until the baby is born and he can order a paternity test to prove the baby is his.

The chemistry is obvious from the start; the initial animosity between our hero and heroine is indicative of the undeniable attraction still simmering between them. Cara considers Pepe to be a stereotype of all she knows – and Pepe has his own trust issues, which is enough to prevent these two from giving in to their feelings for each other. As the story proceeds, it’s quite clear that their mutual attraction runs deep, but delightfully infuriating when both characters’ emotions and issues keep throwing up barriers to their happy ever after. Then, just as you think everything is going along wonderfully, you can’t shake that feeling that it won’t last forever… and that’s when the twist in the tale strikes you down.

However, this story is not without its requisite happy ending, so I can assure you, you will be clutching the book to your heart when you’ve turned the last page, with a satisfactory sigh.

Ms Smart will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotion with this story, so be prepared.

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