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Can't Hold Back

Book 2, Returning Home - A Returning Home Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In this tender military romance from the bestselling author of Hold on Tight—perfect for fans of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery—a war-shattered veteran gets a second chance at love with the one that got away.

No girl can resist a man in uniform—especially if that man is Nate Riordan. But after an injury in the line of duty leaves Nate broken, body and soul, the soldier finds himself addicted to his pain meds, with no place to call home. Desperate for an escape, Nate reluctantly accepts a friend’s invitation to a new veterans’ retreat. Expecting a little R&R, Nate is shocked when the sight of his physical therapist opens up another old wound: heartbreak.

Years ago, Alia Drake fell hard for Nate, but never made her move. Instead, she set up her sister with the sexy, confident military man, a foolish decision that continues to haunt all three of them. Now, with Nate as her patient, she can make things right—even if it means getting too close for comfort. A healing touch and a little honesty work wonders, fueling a physical intimacy that crosses professional boundaries. This time, with desire in the air once more, Alia won’t hold anything back.

Praise for Can’t Hold Back

Can’t Hold Back is a lovely story of second chances and new beginnings. Wounds that go deeper than physical pain are the most difficult to heal.”New York Times bestselling author Kathy Clark

“With deceit and forgiveness, pain and addiction, healing and a second chance at love, Can’t Hold Back has it all. You do not want to miss this sexy story of a soldier coming home.”—Wendy S. Marcus, award-winning author of All I Need Is You

“This sweet story is full of physical and emotional healing.”Publishers Weekly

“It’s a heartwarming story and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to seeing what else this series may bring.”—Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst
“A great love story.”—Becky on Books and Quilts
“I am absolutely loving this series and can’t wait for the next installment!”—Twin Spin

“Sweet, realistic and sexy as hell . . . I inhaled this book on a wet Sunday afternoon, and it was time well spent! Serena Bell writes some seriously smart, funny and sexy stories. They always hit you right in the gut.”—I Love Romantic Fiction

Can’t Hold Back is a wonderful example of great writing, careful weaving of emotions and reality into a special situation, and, of course, great, passionate and sexy romance. Grab this second-chance romance today.”—The Book Hammock (4 1/2 stars)

“By the end of the book you love not only Nate, but also Alia. Serena Bell did a fabulous job with this novel.”—Sam’s Ramblings

“Romance could do with a bit of examination of the problematic aspects of the female-as-caretaker role. Which is why, perhaps, I so enjoyed Serena Bell’s latest contemporary romance.”—Romance Novels for Feminists

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 26, 2015 – Bell's second Returning Home novel (after Hold On Tight) continues to pay homage to military servicemembers in this contemporary Cyrano story. Physical therapist Alia Drake's life is defined by helping others. She thrives on being needed and jumps at the chance to help anybody, even if it means sacrificing her own desires. Veteran Nate Riordan was attracted to Alia the moment he met her, but to his dismay, she quickly passed him off to her beautiful younger sister, Becca, who suffers from low self-esteem around her learning disability. Alia helps Becca correspond with Nate when he's deployed to Afghanistan, and her own feelings become evident in her writing. When Nate admits his growing love for his correspondent, the two women confess that Alia's been writing letters under Becca's name, and he ceases all communication with them. Years later, an injured Nick becomes Alia's patient, and they're both forced to face what might have been. This sweet story is full of physical and emotional healing, and it sets up several possibilities for future books in the series.

Customer Reviews

I really enjoyed this story

Nate and Alia have great chemistry, meaningful exchanges and some smoking hot sexy time.

A slightly different twist on a second chance romance, Can't Hold Back is the story of two people who take the long way to love.

For a long time Nate and Alia sacrifice their wishes in hopes of bringing peace and happiness to the people they care for most. In their own time, they each realize that such a sacrifice is unnecessary and that seizing happiness for themselves while they can is important.

In these pages you'll find an enduring love that has to wade through betrayal, abandoned dreams, honor bound promises, and forgiveness before it can claim the HEA Nate and Alia deserve.

If you like contemporary romances that don't shy away from real emotions, you'll love this book.

I received an ARC of this book, via Net Galley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Part of a series but no cliffhanger!

This is the first book I’ve read by Serena Bell and I liked it a lot. Alia and Nate first meet at a picnic hosted by Jake, a friend they have in common. Nate is in the Army and between deployments. Alia was attracted to him right off the bat but she felt her sister Becca needed someone more so she set them up. Becca has very low self-esteem due to a learning disability that wasn’t diagnosed until too late in school to help her much and her boyfriend had just dumped her.

Nate and Becca begin a relationship before he deploys again. While he is deployed Becca asks Alia to help her with her letters and emails to Nate because she lacks the confidence to do her own writing. During this time Alia begins to put more of herself into the letters than she meant to. Becca also begins to realize that she and Nate aren’t really suited to each other; the chemistry between them just isn’t right. When Becca breaks up with Nate she comes clean about Alia’s help with her correspondence and he feels betrayed by both Becca and Alia.

Jump ahead two years… Nate has been injured during his deployment is dependent on narcotics for pain relief. He recognizes he needs to get clean and goes to Jake’s R&R veterans’ retreat to learn how to manage his pain without meds. He also has a huge amount of guilty feelings because a good friend was killed when Nate was injured. Alia, a physical therapist, has a temporary job at R&R and she has been conducting programs to help the residents relieve their pain without meds.

Alia still has feelings for Nate but he wants nothing to do with her. He reluctantly keeps his appointments with her for PT. He’s very skeptical that her techniques will help with his pain and can hardly believe it when they work. Nate comes to realize that he was always attracted to Alia, more than Becca, but he believes that Alia feels nothing for him. As her patient, Alia is ethically bound to not have a relationship with Nate but she loves him and has trouble resisting the temptation to be with him. She lets Jake know that she is attracted to Jake but feels she can handle it if he takes over Nates treatment.

The story of Alia and Nate and how their relationship progresses during his time at R&R is complicated and kept me glued to the book. My emotions were all over the place. Jake has misplaced feelings of guilt and loyalty to his friend that died. Alia feels guilty about loving Nate when Becca has no one.

This is a complete story with no cliffhanger but I’d loved to read more about Becca. I don’t know if more books are planned in this series but I hope there are.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Enjoyable, no cliffhanger

Two years ago Nate and Alia met at a picnic. While there was an immediate attraction between the two, Alia decided to “give” Nate to her sister, Becca. Ok so that was a little annoying. Who “gives” someone to someone else? But Nate went along with it since Alia did not seem interested. After suffering injuries while in the military, Nate finds himself addicted to pain medications and struggling to fit back into civilian life. His friend Jake encourages him to visit his veteran’s retreat. This retreat is geared toward helping veterans deal with not only their physiological issues but also their psychological issues. There is only one problem. Alia is a physical therapist at this ranch. While Nate still feels attracted toward Alia, he can’t forget her involvement in his relationship with her sister. But Nate needs her to help him learn to deal with his pain without pain medications. As they spend more time together, they realize there are still feelings between them. Alia realizes all the time she wrote to Nate it was really her feelings she was expressing not Becca’s. Nate becomes to realize it was Alia’s true feelings that came out in her letters/messages. Even though Becca and Alia were wrong in what they did to Nate, they did it for the right reasons. Alia was trying to help her sister. Alia always thought she had to help her sister, even at her expense. Once Becca confronted Alia, their sister bond became even stronger. There really is not one bad person in this book. This is a story about taking advantage of those second chances. The dialogue flows easily and before you know it you are done. There is not a lot of inner turmoil that takes away from the story. The sex scenes are tastefully and romantically written. I have read a number of other books by this author and this one did not disappoint. Perhaps we will see a story about Becca?

Other Books in This Series

Can't Hold Back
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  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Published: Dec 15, 2015
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 213 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Book 2, Returning Home
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings