A few weeks ago, I met author Raymond Francis at the Atlanta Kick Back, a book expo. We chatted for a few minutes and he gifted me a copy of one of his books in exchange for a review. The book I received, Hold On To Your Love. Let’s start with the synopsis. It reads:
Bryson and Tamia’s love is one for the ages. Together, they feel like they can conquer the world, but first, they will have to survive the Philadelphia streets. Bryson is a true hustler and does his best to provide for Tamia, but of course, plenty of people want to see their downfall. Tamia tries her best to pull Bryson away from the streets, but before she can, the Feds swoop in. Soon, Tamia finds herself in the middle of a war that has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with money and jealousy. Bryson will stop at no lengths to protect the woman he loves, but along the way, he will have to make sacrifices that he never imagined! In the end, Bryson and Tamia have to decide whether their love is strong enough to hold on to, or so dangerous that it has to be let go of!
First, let me establish that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The relationship between Bryson and Tamia is truly what one should envision when they think of loyalty. Through thick and thin this young couple shows that they are in it for the long-haul. Now, if you’re familiar with my other reviews, you know I tend to have mixed emotions about romance, but this novel captured and held my attention. Why? Let’s go down the list, shall we?
First, it wasn’t all romance. I’m generally not into strictly love and romance novels unless there’s a bunch of conflict, which there is plenty in this book. However, the conflict isn’t between the main characters, but from outside influences (and those influences are numerous and varied). This kept the story interesting for me. The overall theme of the story is how Bryson and Tamia overcome the obstacles thrown at them. What are those obstacles? That leads to my second point.
Bryson and Tamia were from different sides of the track, as is typical in many love stories. She was from the right side and he wasn’t. She was drawn to his bad-boy image and he was drawn to her beauty, however, they had a chemistry and they developed a bond that was unbreakable. Bryson’s bad-boy image wasn’t only an image, but a lifestyle. Tamia’s love for both him and the fruits of his illegal activity, respectively, pulled her into more than what she thought that she could handle. However, we know that you can’t participate in dangerous illegal activity and expect to not have enemies on all sides of the moral and legal compass. When bad things start to happen the reader gets to see exactly how weak Bryson is for Tamia and how that pretty much ruins his business. Usually, it is pride and a drastic underestimation of the enemy that brings down the man in charge in novels such as this, but in this book that isn’t the case. Bryson’s heart got in the way, which is a good thing all around. What makes it even better is that it didn’t make the novel boring because it didn’t end there.
Bryson is a man with a conscience, and that is in part due to Tamia. So, after they overcome the first obstacle, he realizes the errors of his ways and attempts to change his life to keep his love safe. All should be well, but of course, it isn’t. There are too many enemies out there for them to be peacefully happy. Throughout the novel, the audience gets to see both of the main characters as who they are, flaws and all, and they admit that they’re flawed! They were a genuinely likable couple and I found myself rooting for them and becoming emotionally involved as the story progressed. I liked seeing them change and rub off on each other and ultimately getting things done.
On to my next point, the story moved at a good pace. A lot happened, several characters were introduced throughout, but not once was I confused. There was always some sort of action or a build-up to the action or a back-story that further fueled the action. There was a good balance of violence and romance for me, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by either one.
I found the character of Avery, an unlikely ally to Bryson, very interesting. If a book doesn’t exist for Avery yet, then I hope that there will be because there is a lot of potential there.
I really don’t have any dislikes about this novel at all. My only gripe is about the physical book itself regarding the formatting and font. The more books I pick up, the more I pay attention to little details like that. However, I really enjoyed this novel and I’ll have to keep this author on my reading list. I rate it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.