Book Review: Holding On (Nugget #12) (ARC)

Expected publication: May 18th 2021

Author: Stacy Finz

In New York Times bestselling author Stacy Finz’s Nugget romance series, a picturesque California mountain town is the perfect place for fresh air—and fresh starts, especially when it comes to love.

One divorce, one mind-blowing kiss with a stranger (code name: Matthew McConaughey), and one year later, Joey Nix desperately needs to find a job in Nugget. It’s the only chance she’ll have of sharing custody of her sweet little daughter with her soon to be remarried, renowned surgeon ex-husband. Luckily, Joey’s qualified to work as an in-home caregiver. Coincidentally, a job offer comes from the afore mentioned unforgettably sexy stranger (real name: Ryder Knight). It’s a terrible, irresistible idea . . .

Ryder needs help with his ailing, depressed mother, and darn if Joey isn’t the best candidate. Good thing he’ll be sleeping in his camper, because their chemistry is still crackling. Besides, the loss of his wife and unborn child five years earlier have left Ryder squarely focused on his trucking company—and even that’s on shaky ground. Still, Joey knows how to lift his mom’s spirits. And his too—despite a troubling secret she’s shared with him. But when she asks him to accompany her to her ex’s wedding, Ryder “I don’t do weddings” Knight will have to do a lot of soul searching. What he discovers just might surprise them both . . .

Holding On is the twelfth novel in the Nugget series. The prologue in this story is the continuation from an event that occurs at the end of book eleven, so you might be a little confused as it reads like the middle of a story. However, this story is easy to understand even if you have never read the others as there is enough contexts and some exposition to catch the reader up in the events that occurred in the previous novel. The characters in this novel were featured in the previous, but now we get to see Joey get her own story and get to know more about the mysterious “Matthew McConaughey” she was flirting with during the previous novel.

Joey Nix (formerly Daniels) is now divorced from her ex-husband, Ethan. He is now settled with Brynn after their courtship during book eleven. After being sober for the past two years when she became addicted to pills and is getting her life back on track. She has applied for an appeal to get her nursing license back, so she can return to working in a hospital, and is living in limbo as she awaits a decision. In the meantime, she has been working as a homecare nurse in Reno where she lives with her parents. Now that Ethan trusts her to spend more time with their daughter Roni, Joey dreams of living in Nugget. Work and money are an issue, so now she must find a solution.  Enter her former flirt partner, real name, Ryder.

Ryder Knight owns a trucking California and is putting down roots in Nugget as it is a good halfway point between his usual routes. His 66-year old mother just had a stroke and is in recovery. Therefore, Ryder needs someone to take care of his mother, Siobhan “Shiv” Knight, while he is on the road. The perfect candidate is presented to him by a placement agency, but he already has a complicated history with her as it is Joey. With no other better options, Ryder agrees to hire Joey as the live-in caregiver for his mother. The two of them then work to get to know the other as they each have complicated pasts.

I admit that I was not Joey’s biggest fan and did not care a lot about her part of the story during the previous novel. Now that she has her own story, I began to love her and rooted for everything to work out for her. She is a new resident of Nugget and is just trying to be accepted after the mistakes she made in the past. I loved that the town does not judge her and just want what is best. Joey still struggles with the new family dynamic now that Brynn and her son Henry are in the picture. The blended family is a difficult concept for her to accept, but she is trying her best to become okay with it. The author wrote her journey very well as it is not perfect and there are a lot of raw emotions that sometimes do not show the best side of someone and it gave a new depth to the story.

The story includes three perspectives as there are Joey and Ryder along with Ryder’s mom. She is going through recovery from her stroke while balancing clinical depression. It was interesting to me as she was written as elderly as I guess I do not think of mid-60s as being too old for some activities. My parents are around the same age and they do everything their children do as we range in age from mid-twenties to early forties. There were times where she was treated as someone in their eighties, but it could just be my interpretation when reading. I did love her as a character, though, and I would be very excited to read more from her if she gets included in a future novel.

Overall, Nugget continues to be a town of healing where there complicated character that have been through a lot and hopefully find love along the way, whether it be romance, friendship, or themselves. I do not recommend starting this novel at 11 at night when you have to get up at 5 the next morning, as you might do what I did and read it all in one sitting. It was well worth being tired though as it is an incredibly sweet story with great characters. The romance between Ryder and Joey was a great match and I loved the two of them getting to know the other. It did become a little rushed in some moments towards the end, but it was still a great romance where I could picture the two of them lasting as a couple. This was another excellent addition to the Nugget series and I cannot wait to read more!

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Lyrical Press, for a review copy of this very enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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