Claire O'Malley isn't looking for love. In fact, the woman she thought she would spend the rest of her life with just moved to Berlin. Claire's focus is on mending her broken heart. Not easy when you find yourself sharing a house with your ex's older sister, Kathryn Mercer.
The Kathryn that Claire used to know - frumpy and boring - has disappeared. These days she walks a little taller, looks a little slimmer, oozes charm and confidence, and turns heads.
Some things should be left alone. Some rules should never be broken. But some opportunities are just too good to miss.
I'm not going to lie, this book left me feeling a little confused. There were some parts of it I absolutely loved, and other parts that were a little hard for me. But let's see, where to start.
Claire, the protagonist of Keep Hold, is an absolute delight. She's totally relatable, if not a little drama prone. But she's also snarky AF, which is something I adore in a character. The way Grubb wrote Claire's point of view was so funny, I actually caught myself chuckling out load and I've definitely pocketed some one-liners for future use.
Claire is overwhelmingly likable, as are her best friends, Jess (also Claire's ex) and Alex (Jess's wife). Their relationship is really warm and clever and typifies the lesbian relationship cycle: Crush, Girlfriend, Ex, Best Friend. It has happened to every gay woman I know, including myself.
But as likable as Claire is, her love interest is equally unlikable. Kathryn is Jess's older, somewhat estranged, divorced, and pretty homophobic sister. She moves into Jess and Alex's house (with Claire - due to Claire's aforementioned drama) and promptly accuses Claire and Alex of being too cuddly - because watch out, too many cuddles from another person and your marriage is in the shitter, according to her.
Of course, while this all steps from Kathryn's deep seated insecurities from her own cheating ex-husband, I found her attitude throughout the book to be really difficult to deal with. She's one of those, yell and make assumptions first, ask forgiveness later.
When she sleeps with Claire for the first time, she absolutely panics and tries to overcompensate the exact way you'd expect: she sleeps with a man. In the same house that she and Claire are sharing. Drama, Claire's BFF, ensues. Later, she says the phrase that every gay person has heard at one time or another: "I'm not like you, I'm normal." This phrase, and all of its various incarnations, is just plain frustrating to see. Unfortunately, it also really showcases Kathryn's mean streak.
The thing is, I think we're really meant to understand Kathryn, but I don't. While Claire is snarky, I read Kathryn as just plain mean most of the time. And I get that she was battling internalized homophobia - I know from experience that that can turn people mean and bitter when they don't know who they are or if they try to fight it. And yes, I roll my eyes whenever I read a book where the main characters just flip the switch from straight to gay for one person without any sort of mental emotional debate. In that way, I appreciate Keep Hold for it's honesty. But unfortunately, even in the end, I wasn't a huge fan of Kathryn and so I found it hard to root for the love story.
I would be delighted to read a book of Claire's musings. And if she and Kathryn ever break up...I'm on board for another love story. Hopefully with somebody a little nicer.
And thank you to NetGalley for the book! And please note, no positive reviews were guaranteed for a copy of this book.
Buy the book:
Thanks for reading my review. Until next time!
Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author, or booksellers listed.