Hold Me Close by Megan Hart is not your typical erotic romance, but then none of what Megan Hart writes falls safely in any genre. But Hold Me Close is a bit more of a risk. The main characters of Effie and Heath are far from your normal romantic couples.
“…You don’t love me,’ Heath says.
This is too much. All this time and all that happened with them, and now he wants to tell her that he loves her? What is it supposed to mean, what is she supposed to do about it now, when everything has changed?
‘I already told you how I feel about that,’ she snaps. ‘It’s easy to love someone when they’re all you know…”
Effie and Heath are celebrities in their small city. But it is not the kind of celebrity anyone could have ever wanted. They are abductees. Two young teenagers taken by the same man and held captive for years. Trapped alone in the basement of his home, the two young teenagers have only one another to turn to. Until the fateful day they are rescued. But what they find is that freedom in the outside world is as dangerous and painful as life was in their prison.
They are grown adults now. Effie has a daughter and a bitter, torn relationship with her own mother. Heath is something of a drifter. He comes and goes in Effie’s life and though she knows she needs to settle down and become a stable person, she cannot allow herself to bond with anyone. Heath is only a reminder of the dark past they share. But when he comes around she cannot resist the desire they share with one another. Heath knows that Effie sleeps with other men but his need to care and protect her is unbreakable.
“…Why won’t you just let me help you?’ Heath asked. ‘When you know it would make me happy?’
Effie put her cup on the counter and faced him. ‘Because it comes with a price, doesn’t it? Making you happy?’
No matter who Effie is with she finds herself constantly coming back to Heath. But when they are together they cannot forget what happened to then and the people around them can’t forget it either.
This was an enthralling yet difficult read for me. Most erotica is based on the reader becoming a voyeur into the lives of the characters. But here there is something so painful in looking too deeply into Effie’s life. This is a credit to the writing of Hart. It isn’t enough to be titillating, Hart is going to show you the whole person. She is giving you Effie with all her damages and all her pain. Not just her desires and her sexual appetites.
Heath is enigmatic. It is only later into the book that the reader realizes that for all those years it was he and not Effie who was sexually abused. That it was Heath who suffered the most and afterward, he was the most damaged. But through it all, he still fights and struggles to care for Effie. To protect her, even to the point of protecting her from herself.
What I found most powerfully written in this novel was the relationship between Effie and her mother. The broken and damaged relationship surrounded by mutual blame and mistrust. It is the slow and heart wrenching attempts to repair this relationship that are the most powerfully written in this novel.
But in the end, Hold Me Close is a journey. A slow twisting and turning journey as Effie tries to find herself. To be more than the little lost girl. To be more than what she allows herself to be. To somehow, be whole again.
A terrific read.