“I missed you like crazy. I love you forever.”
HOLY HELL!!! I read this book in one non-stop sitting because I quite literally could NOT put it down. I mean seriously… THE ANGST!!!!! Gah. *clutches heart* It took a while for my heart rate to go back to normal after I was finished, but WOW — this book was unputdownable!!! It felt like I barely blinked or stopped to breathe because I was flipping the pages so fast! It was sweet and romantic, heart-breaking and painful, angsty as all freaking hell, and really just a gorgeous story of undying love!! I loved it!
I’ll be honest, from the moment I saw the blurb, I knew I had to read this book…
“Once upon a sweet and terrible time, she’d loved him, and he’d loved her in return.”
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.
See??? I mean, woah!!!
Two things to clarify quickly: First, there is no sexual abuse of children in this book. Second, just because a lot of people have asked me given that it’s based on Hansel & Gretel, but Griselda and Holden are not related. They’re unrelated children placed in the same foster home together, that’s all.
I really connect strongly with stories about the kind of love that doesn’t let go. What Holden and Griselda felt for each other was just so heart-breakingly beautiful. That love is put to the test over and over again, but it made me so happy to see that they made even the most impossible sounding situation work.
The first 60% of the book is more about setting their story up, them finding each other again, and reconnecting after a decade apart. The story was told in a mixture of both past and present day chapters from both Holden and Griselda’s POVs. We see everything — their history in foster care together, their abduction, their reunion and their future. I have to say, I really felt the anticipation build towards their reunion. I just could not wait for them to find each other again!
“Everything fucking hurts,” he admitted, wincing. When he looked at her face, though, it was impossible not to grin. “Except my heart.” He paused, spellbound by the sight of her so close. “But even my heart hurts a little.”
His eyes dropped to her lips, and he watched as they tilted up a little. “Why’s that?”
“Because I missed all of this. I missed ten years of… you.”
So many feels! Ten years of separation. He thought she was dead. She had no idea where to look for him, and lacked the resources to seriously try. So much lost time, and yet from the moment they were back in each other’s lives, it was clear that they belonged together.
“We’ve always been together,” he whispered reverently, reaching for her… “Even when we were apart, we were still together. Even when I thought you were gone, you still lived inside my heart.”
You should know that there is no cheating in this book at all, but during their 10 year separation, they were both with other people. Griselda had willingly entered a loveless relationship with a total jerk — her rationale was that if she’d been forced to leave Holden behind with that monster, she didn’t deserve to have happiness unless she found him again. Holden on the other hand had actually been told that she’d been killed. Faced with a life without the girl he loved, he slept with any woman he could trying to fill the void of loneliness with meaningless hookups and temporary relationships. But once they reconnected, they both wanted to do everything in their power to stay together.
“You don’t want me to fight? I won’t fight. You want me to break up with Gemma? She’s gone. You want me to quit my shit job, give up my apartment in Charles Town, and move to Maryland? Done. You want to go to college? I’ll make it happen.
I’ve been half dead for ten years, Gris, but when you walked back into my life, I came alive again. You make me want to live. You make me want to be a better man.”
Now, the last 40% of the book was rough for me. It has huge bucket-loads of A-N-G-S-T beginning with a huuuuuuuge reveal that changed their lives. Truthfully, it was borderline too much angst for me. Seriously, I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach like I’m sitting at the top of a roller coaster about to go over the highest peak just thinking about it. And, I’m going to be completely honest here. I actually had to stop reading here and go find spoilers to reassure myself that I’d be ok with everything that happened.
I’ve debated whether I should write a spoiler section for this book or not. On one hand, having finished the book, I’m all like “Ohhhhh you guys’ll be fine! Just read it!”…. and also, I don’t want to give the whole plot away. On the other hand, I know that for me personally, this was the kind of situation where I needed spoilers to reassure myself… so, just in case some of you are like that too, I’m going to include them.
Note: I would not recommend reading the spoiler unless you’re like me and just needtofuckingknow. If you don’t desperately need that then just trust that everything works out (no cheating and no death). Maybe even try reading without spoilers and only check back if you really feel the need? Up to you.
Trust me though, Griselda and Holden are completely, utterly and beautifully devoted to each other.
“My body is marked with you. My arms. My chest. My eyes. My head. My heart… I can’t erase you… Can’t you see? There is only you for me.”
The story is filled with twists and turns and even though I was initially worried about how things would work out, I have to say that Griselda and Holden handled the situation so well. Everything they went through, things that could so easily have torn them apart, in the end just brought them closer together.
If you love unputdownable stories with the kind of romance that is sweet and heartfelt, and the kind of love that you know will last forever, but also are searching for the kind of intense, heart-stopping angst that’ll put you through the ringer, then you’ll love this book!
This is a complete standalone. It’s part of a series of standalones that are not connected to each other. Each book is based on a different fairy tale. You can read them in any order that you wish.
I loved this one and highly recommend it!
“Stone to stone. I jump, you jump.”
Rating: 4.5 stars! Standalone contemporary romance.
*** FULL SERIES ***
Note: these standalones are not interconnected.
GINGER’S HEART (based on Little Red Riding Hood)
Buy for Kindle
DON’T SPEAK (based on The Little Mermaid)
coming June 2016