Holding on to Georgia
By Courtney Giardina
ARC e-book, 261 pages
2014, Take Two Publishing
I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
From the author’s website: Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.
Before I start my review, I wanted to share the mini-interview I did with Courtney.
+ In your bio, you mention that you write to save your soul. What pushed you to finally work towards publishing a book?
A few years back I went through a rough situation. I used music and inspirational quotes to sort of push me through it. I realized how much they helped me and I decided I wanted to make the same impact on others who may be going through similar situations of feeling stuck, like they have nowhere to turn and are unsure of whether or not to hold on tighter or let go completely. In order to do this I turned to the one thing I always loved, writing. I made a pact with myself to finish this book because others needed to hear the message. The process was therapeutic for me and in the end, it helped me come to terms with certain aspects of my own life while also trying to help readers do the same.
+ Your latest novel, Holding on to Georgia, is a romance – have you always wanted to write romance novels? Do you see yourself branching into other genres in the future?
Sometimes I think that mystery would be a fun genre to dive into, but I’m not sure I’m that brave yet. I’ve always loved romance and think there are still areas and stories left to explore there, so I think I’ll stick with it for a while!
+ From the start of the creative process, to the finished book, roughly how long did Holding on to Georgia take to accomplish?
This is kind of a tough question since I technically finished it back in September 2013. After sending it off to a few Beta Readers and taking their feedback, I finally realized it wasn’t what I was going for and rewrote the entire thing. The story changed drastically. I’d say from starting Round 2 until publication (with a few weeks off to really analyze what I wanted the story to look like) it took about 10 months.
+ One of your main characters is Wesley Kade – was it hard to write from a male’s perspective?
It was one of the most challenging things about writing the book. I wanted him to come across realistic and I wanted readers to be able to relate to him. I pull a lot of inspiration from the people around me. Whether it be friends or just random situations I happen to come across on a daily basis, I pay very close attention to actions, conversations and gestures. Then I try to take that and pull together characters. In each male character in the novel, including Kade, there’s a bit of all of those guys in them. Kade has much more of an emotional story so I had to really dig deep. I’ve seen men in my life hurt and how they handled it. It can be tough, but all of that you use as a writer to create depth within your character.
Courtney’s website: http://courtneygiardina.com/
What I liked:
I don’t read romance novels often, but I do enjoy them now and then. I find the often cliched plots comforting – girl meets boy, can’t have boy, has boy, loses boy, totally gets boy in the end, and if we’re lucky there are a few erotic scenes thrown in! I find most romance novels to be predictable, but I don’t mean that as an insult! It’s nice to take a break from the heavy stuff and just read something cute and a touch dramatic. This probably still sounds like an insult, but I swear it’s not.
Courtney gives that perfect mix of the woman and man who have been burned before, yet it’s clear they both still want to find love. This book was a quick read, something I could relax with, and I appreciated that. The familiar formula of the romance novel allowed me to sink easily into the drama when it arose. This book was cute, with a little southern flare and it helped take my mind off my impending winter depression.
What I didn’t like:
There was a lot of telling in this book and I could have used more showing. As a reader, I was often told how a character felt, and it was accompanied by a phrase like “hollow eyes” in an attempt to convey an expression – one which I really couldn’t picture. One thing I could picture was what the characters looked like, and wore for each day. This didn’t seem to be a fashion-based romance, yet I felt like I spent a lot of time reading about what Rylan and Kade were wearing. Speaking of Rylan, I kept calling her Ryan! That’s more my fault than anything, but I could not, for the life of me, remember to pronounce that “L.” Rylan also suffers from the always-cliché “clumsy girl” syndrome, despite being a very skilled dancer. Too many lead females suffer from this trope simply so they can sometimes literally fall into the arms of their man, or get injured so they can be cared for.
This book was very middle of the road for me – it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t love it either. My real issue was that I wanted more. I wanted more depth from the characters, I wanted more action, I wanted more romance! There were a few scenes where things started to heat up, but honestly, I could have used a lot more of that. I’m not saying the book should have been an erotic novel or anything, but Kade was described as a very sexy man, and I expected more from his intimate scenes with Rylan.
If you’re really into romance, this book may be the one for you, but for me, it just wasn’t developed enough.
*cover image from Amazon