Title: Hold Me
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre: romance, contemporary, new adult
Rating: ★★★★★ | 4.5
It seems like every review that I write about Courtney Milan has only good things to say. What can I say? Milan writes diverse characters and she writes them very well. She confronts issues like race, feminism, and sexuality in a way that not a lot of romance authors do. Hold Me is a contemporary romance that features a trans Latinx heroine and a bi Thai hero. It’s an enemies to lovers storyline and a friends to lovers storyline as well. Both of which are some of my favourite tropes in romance so I already knew I was really going to like this book.
The storyline is very balanced and the relationship between Maria and Jay never feels rushed or forced. In fact, there are times when they go weeks and months without talking to one another and considering what has taken place in the story just before it makes perfect sense. I’m glad Milan doesn’t feel the need to rush their interactions, it helps the story to feel more natural. It’s a credit to Milan, especially since some enemies to lovers stories can feel very rushed.
Characterisation has always been a strong point of Milan’s and characters are definitely what make this story as good as it is. They are multi-dimensional people that it’s easy to see facets of ourselves in. We meet Maria in the previous book of the series, however all that we really know of her is that she is Tina’s roommate. This time around we meet a confident woman that takes pride in the way she looks, has an incredible amount of intelligence, and a small bus load of problems that makes her very relatable and realistic. Jay is a friend of Maria’s brother who is a driven scientist that pushes himself too hard because he feels nothing that he does is good enough for his parents. Personally, that was something I found myself relating to. Maria and Jay had good chemistry and it was easy to see the good points in each of their personalities that made the other person like them.
The greatest thing about the book for me was the way that Maria calls out Jay for his faux allyship towards women. She forces him to confront the fact that he has been giving himself praise while never really putting forward any real hard work in supporting women. It becomes a major point in their relationship and impacts how the two of them decide to continue their relationship. Since this is an issue that I feel many people in the wider community need to think about and address (are they actually a good and helpful ally or are they giving themselves praise that they don’t deserve), I was grateful that Milan decided to bring it up as a major issue during the course of the novel.
Milan continues to grow as an author and defy mainstream opinions of who deserves romance and happy endings. The upcoming books in the Cyclone series are said to feature gay and lesbian characters some of whom are people of colour. Definitely books that I will be looking forward to reading.