”This job is changing you.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Change is like new clothes. It all looks good on the rack, but then it takes a while to figure out if you made the right choice. It’s got to feel good on you, right?”
This book is a shining example of cliche done ALMOST right. And it’s been a while since I enjoyed a predictable, contemporary romance book that I can ALMOST turn a blind eye over the things that didn’t work for me except this forced me to do something I’ve never done since fourscore and four years ago… I made a table.
I had to. It was practically impossible to keep track of who knows what and the implications of their actions. I was fully prepared to bust out my mad tabular skillz for a high fantasy book, perhaps a detailed historical… definitely not a book about childhood friends who became young adult lovers, broken up then reunited eleven years after in a corporate setting.
Alanna Woodruff is an artist who has had a difficult time keeping a job for being outspoken, self-destructive and unorthodox. With some intervention from Miles Levin, her brother’s best friend who just also happens to be her ex, she is given the chance to work at Dreyer Jacoby, a prestigious advertising firm in Manhattan. A responsible workaholic eager to please his mentor, Miles is on his way to becoming the firm’s creative director… if only he can keep the undeniable chemistry between him and Alanna check. Not only because he has a girlfriend, the lawyer from upstairs, Sophie, but also because of the company’s strict no-fraternizing policy among its employees (already costing Jacoby’s brother his job). Until an illicit encounter during a citywide blackout changed it all.
Excluding the ridiculously generic title with no relation to the story, I actually liked a lot of things about Hold Me Tight. I used to be an avid watcher of Mad Men and while I loved the sexiness and WTF-politically incorrectness of Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce, I enjoyed watching them concoct ad pitches to their clients most (Don Draper’s Carousel spiel for the ektachrome projector was pure layered genius). Miles is definitely not a Don Draper, but I liked that this book didn’t shy away from attempting to portray the artistry and creativity involved in making ads. I really liked the dentures-toothpaste ad that Miles and Alanna came up with and in books, making the setting believable and credible enough is half the journey for me.
It was a pretty predictable story but certain aspects of it still managed to surprise me. I liked the dash of realism on the struggles of twenty-something professionals trying to make a stamp in the big city minus the Reality Bites angst rather than solely focusing on the romance and sex. And I loved Jared, Miles and Alanna going back in Maplewood because I feel like if I was going to have a day of nostalgia, playing Super Mario Kart and PS1 is definitely going to figure in it as well.
Unfortunately he characters felt unfulfilled and skeletal. There was a lot of telling and bulletpointing of the protagonists’ personalities with very little substance to the claims of what they’re supposed to be. I get the sense of what Quinn was trying to make of Miles and Alanna and liked them… as ideas. Unfortunately the thrust and approach in the filling out of each felt lacking and half-hearted.
Then there was that catastrophically convoluted deception plot stemming from all the forbidden sex which still boggles my mind when I think of it. I still don’t understand why it was made so complicated until now (Table 1). Why was Sophie even involved in that whole confusion? Why was Alanna pretending to be Sophie whenever she has sex with Miles if she assumes that they are not having sex and have an open relationship? I suspect it was in the effort to avoid making both the protagonists as flaming cheaters (but because it all boils down to what you DO with what you KNOW, Alanna’s coming off the shittier shade of things - especially with that one-sided girl on girl hate aimed towards Sophie) though keeping track of who knows what, who assumes what and the reason behind their corresponding actions just drained whatever energy I may have left to actually enjoy Alanna and Miles’ ever after.
The dialogue was fine but the narrative had a healthy smattering of cringe-worthy awkward and unnecessary metaphors that I could’ve done without.
And while this managed to do away with a love triangle (a momentous feat for the kind of story this is telling definitely)Hold Me Tight still succumbed to a healthy dose of insta-love, which I’m finding bizarre seeing as this is a second chance at love story. Because from where I stand, this managed to reduce the foundation of Miles and Alanna’s to something as rudimentary as opposites attracting.
Still I cannot deny that this was a pretty decent adult contemporary romance all things considered and might be something enjoyable for readers who enjoy convoluted plots, chess players and table-making enthusiasts. I am mildly curious about the second instalment of this series but will probably need some reassurances (that I won’t end up with a massive migraine in the end) before actually picking it up.
Review Copy courtesy of the publishers.