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Hold On To Me

Hold On To Me

a boss-assistant, age gap retro romantic comedy

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐200+ 5-star reviews

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Fans of 1990's movies like Swimming with Sharks and Beautiful Girls will love this slow-burn, boss-assistant, younger man older woman, entertainment biz, 1990’s office romance from USA Today bestselling author Karen Grey.

Book Description

She’s my boss, and she’s a stone-cold fox.
Two months ago, I lost my boat, my cat, and—with my leg in a cast—my income. Until I can walk again, the only job I’m fit for is one few have survived.

See, my new boss has a reputation. She's grumpy, no-nonsense, and runs a tight ship. Keeping a firm hold on a movie budget does require nerves of steel, after all. Especially when disaster strikes.

When she yells at me, all I hear is the passion in her voice. All I want in those moments is to kiss her until she can't think straight.

And then convince her that it's okay to fall in love with me.

Fans of 1990's movies like Swimming with Sharks and Beautiful Girls will love this slow-burn, boss-assistant, younger man older woman, entertainment biz, 1990’s office romance from USA Today bestselling author Karen Grey.

Look inside

SULLY

“Mr. Jones, please come out of the cabinet.”
My co-captain and I have been living on Endless Summer

for almost nine months now. I missed my boat almost as much as I missed my friends and family the seven long years I spent in Los Angeles, so when I returned to work on a movie shooting in my hometown this past spring, I pocketed the per diem the show gave me for housing and lived on the sailboat I’d brought back from the dead as a teenager.

“You didn’t seem to mind trading an apartment for the salt life when we were in Wallington,” I remind him.

Granted, things have been different for the past few weeks. We left the marina behind, traveling up the intra- coastal waterway to the Chesapeake Bay. Spending my days sailing and nights anchored in quiet coves has been a dream of mine for years, and despite the drama around my exit from town, the reality has exceeded my expectations. The scenery couldn’t be prettier, the weather has been mild for August, and the fishing has been awesome. The past twenty-four hours alone were practically ideal.

Yesterday, after a sweet sail down one river and up the next, we anchored in this little inlet, and I dropped a crab pot in the water before going to bed. By midday today, I’d trapped so many I was able to trade with a family onshore for zucchini and tomatoes.

Meaning, I ate like a king for practically nothing.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jones is less enthusiastic about our current circumstances. I’d venture to say he is not on board with spending a couple months away from civilization.

“Maybe we can rent a slip for a night or two so you could feel solid ground under your feet.”

He just growls in response.


“Goddammit, Jonesy!”


I seriously can’t believe he’s so pissed off that he’s hiding in the woodwork. But then I remind myself that I struggle with anger issues too. People think of me as easygoing, but ever since I was little and my brother would tease me to the point that I threw a tantrum, controlling my temper is some- thing I’ve had to work for.

It helps if I ground myself in sensory experience, so as I lean over the stern to give the dinner dishes an initial rinse, I take the creek’s briny scent deep into my nostrils. After swishing the plate, I note the change in the temperature of the air on my hand as I draw it out of the brackish water. When I hear a flutter of wings, I look up to find a pair of herons flying to roost in a tree onshore. Before I know it, my frustration with Mr. Jones has floated away like the remains of my dinner.

After I finish cleaning the tiny kitchen, I set up my bed, planning to take a few moments out on deck before retiring for the night.

When I first tried to meditate with one of the tapes my friend Dani gave me this summer, it was freaking impossible. Tougher than moving across the country without a plan other than following my best friend’s lead. More difficult than telling my parents I’d flunked out of college with just a semester left to go.

But on this trip, sitting and counting my breaths just gets easier and easier. Not only have I got an entire sky full of stars to remind me that my troubles don’t really mean much in the larger scope of things, but the issues that set me on edge feel far away and unimportant.

Who cares that my parents think I’m a total failure when I’m out here living my dream?

My friends may think I’m an idiot, but my best buddy is still with me, and he’ll stop pouting soon.

“Jones?” I still, listening for movement, but get no answer. “All right then. I’ll check out the Milky Way by myself, I guess.”

After some trial and error, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding a quiet spot to overnight, where all I hear is the lap of water against the hull, the clink of hardware against the mast, and the chirps of frogs from the shore. But tonight, as I mount the stairs from the cabin to the cockpit, I’m assaulted by sound. Pounding music and the roar of an engine. Thinking it’s coming from the land on our starboard side, that’s where I look first.

It’s only when I look to port that I see the motorboat speeding across the water. I check, and my masthead light is on. Surely the person at the helm will see it. But the boat just keeps getting closer.

Instinctively, I wave my arms and shout, but my voice is drowned by the sounds of the boat, now headed directly at us. Grabbing my safety horn, I blast it a few times before scrambling down the stairs. Shrugging on a life jacket, I look around for something that might keep my little friend afloat.

“Mr. Jones! Seriously, time to come out. I don’t have a floatation device to fit a cat, so—”

Before I can finish my sentence, the hull explodes behind me.



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Customer Reviews

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k
kgagnon
I loved this emotional, sweet and swoony, reverse age gap love story.

This slow-burn boss-assistant romance was filled with fun nostalgia in a heartfelt story, with down to earth characters, and loads of sexual tension leading to steamy passion! Sullivan is out of work after a boating accident that left him injured. His friends help him get a job as Helen's assistant after her last one ran out in tears. It isn't ideal for him, but he needs the money and as a bonus is unflappable. He stubbles a bit at first, but quickly becomes invaluable to Helen. They both work well together and their attraction is undeniable. Helen has worked hard in a male dominated industry and is afraid to act on her feelings and appear too soft. But when they can't hold back their feelings anymore, they give in to their combustible chemistry. But can a woman whose work is everything, leaving her feeling lonely, and a man who works so he can have a life with family, friends and the water, who wants her with him on his adventures, find a way to be happy together? This was a tender and fun story that warmed my heart. I loved Helen and Sully, and how they helped each other navigate what they struggled with, making each other stronger to find love and happiness. This romance has all the feels, it’s romantic, and funny, and its full of sizzling chemistry with wonderful characters you can’t help loving.

J
Joann Griffith
I loved Sully and Helen’s story!!

It’s time to bring out your boom boxes and mix cds were going back to the 90s for Sully and Helen’s story in this retro romantic comedy!

After a boating accident that left his leg messed up Sully is recovering at his friend Dani's place back in Wallington NC. Only it’s more then Just his leg causing a problem. Sully the normally easy going Zen master is drowning in depression. He can’t surf, he isn’t working and the boat that he put blood sweat and tears into restoring is now wrecked, and he's unsure if his trusted furry friend survived the accident. With his money dwindling away and medical bills piling up he accepts a interview his friend Dani sets up with Helen O’Neill a unit producer with a reputation of being kind of sassy. Helen cares little about her reputation of being a hard to work with because at the end of the day she gets the job done and done well. Hiring Sully is a risk but one that could pay off in more ways then one..

Karen really sets the tone in her books, I absolutely love the Carolina Classics series so far. Reading this is like immersing yourself in your favorite dramedy. All your favorite characters and the couple you are currently shipping front and center in the latest installment. Sully and Helen are complete opposites in most every way. He's so laid back his life goals has never been to conquer in his career, his dreams are to sail and surf and enjoy life he wants to live to live not live to work. Whereas Helen is a career oriented person. She is a woman in a man’s world and works to prove herself not to others but to herself. There are times you can’t see how they could possibly work out but they do. It’s one of the many things I love about this couple. They don’t really want to change one another to fit themselves they accept one another and find a balance. They build from a great working relationship to a physical relationship then to an actual relationship. This is a well rounded fun read with all the charm and nostalgia we come to know and love from Karen’s stories. I don’t know who is up next in the series but I cannot wait for more!

I had read the book prior to the audio version and After getting to know the characters through reading the book I can honestly say JF Harding and Mackenzie Cartwright were the perfect choices to bring life to Sully and Helen through their performances in the audiobook. They brought a new level of energy and charm to an already wonderful story and were just a delight to listen to. I’d definitely recommend this book to any romance fan and I cannot wait to listen to it again !

R
Rellim
Sully & Helen are perfect

This is the second book in Karen Grey’s Carolina Classics series. While each book focuses on a different couple, there’s definitely some story lines that will weave throughout the whole series. While I loved and think the prequel, I’ll Stand By You, is a good intro – minimally this would best be enjoyed after reading/listening to book 1, You Get What You Give.

Oh my heart! Sully and Helen were PERFECT. I connect really well with Grey’s writing and characters which is why I continue to devour her books – but this is my absolute favorite of all her books. First there are so many tropes & themes that I love: office romance, age gap, competent women and men who appreciate them for it, small town romance, found family and lots of laughs.

Sully is recovering from a disastrous boating accident and dealing with all that comes with it: physically, financially, and emotionally. Helen is a movie executive who has no patience for assistants or time for love. When Helen’s in need of help during a shoot in North Carolina, Dani suggest Sully. While he’s usually the muscle on set, he knows how the business works.

Immediately I connected with Sully. I just got off crutches after a surgery earlier this month and I could relate with how frustrating it is to not be able to do so. many. things. I love the way Grey brought all of those little details into the story. Helen was also fantastic. The perfect mix of strong, driven, smart, a fierce friend, and yet still vulnerable.

These two are fireworks. At first just clashing (in a fun way) in the office and then sparks fly in the bedroom. But it isn’t all just lust. It was easy to tell that these two belonged together and that their HEA was a certainty… once they managed a few bumps in the road. While Helen is 10 years older at 38, the age gap didn’t actually cause a lot of issues. Overall, Grey provided just enough angst in a few areas to make things interesting without dragging it out.

I like that the rest of the Carolina Classics gang is integral to the story, but doesn’t take the light away from Helen and Sully. We get updates on Violet & Nate, Ford, Whitney, and it looks like Dani’s book is up next. She’s been such an intriguing character – I can’t wait.

I received an advanced copy of the ebook from Home Cooked Books and am leaving an honest review.

B
Bella Rhys
Did someone say reverse age gap and office romance? I’m in!

Hold On To Me is book 2 in Carolina Classics. After reading the prequel and book 1 in the series, I was looking forward to picking up this book because I was interested in the possible love triangle setup of Sully’s character from those books. And this book did not disappoint.

As mentioned, book 2 is about Sully and Helen. After a boating accident, Sully is struggling physically, financially, and emotionally, and is left to recover and deal with all that comes with it. He needs a new job as he is unable to continue his old one due to his injuries. One of his best friends, Dani, sets him up with an office job working as an assistant to Helen. Helen is the sexy older movie executive who is solely focused on her career and has no time for love.

I just loved the way their dynamic was explored. They are so very clearly attracted to each other. However, their working relationship, the age gap, as well as Helen's future career plans make their situation complicated and make it hard for them to explore their feelings for each other further.

I found both their backstories and their individual journeys interesting. Sully’s backstory is first introduced and explored in the prequel and book 1 of the series. There is a love triangle involving his best male friend (Ford) and one of his best female friends (Whitney). As I am not a big fan of love triangles, I was a bit nervous about how this would be dealt with in his story (although I do live for the drama, so I was going to read this book regardless lol). I was pleasantly surprised by how the author dealt with it. I loved how the competition for Whitney wasn’t really about her, but some unresolved issues in his past as well as his friendship with Ford. This left him open to finding love with Helen. I also really enjoyed seeing Sully’s personal growth throughout the book.

As for Helen, her struggles with her career – being a woman in a very male-dominated and patriarchal work environment – were interesting to see. There are some thinly veiled references to real-life events, and I liked how the author portrayed these. Helen was amazing. I loved how she was a great mix of strong and driven, yet vulnerable. Sully was also there for her and stood by her when she needed a shoulder to lean on. But she was also very capable herself.

Another thing I loved seeing in the book was the many references to the nineties; movies, music, events, etc. which would be nostalgic to those who live through that time (which I did not. Though, as a lover of the decade, it was still nice to see).

Finally, I like seeing the rest of the Carolina Classics characters appear in this book. We get updates on Ford, Violet & Nate, Dani, and of course Whitney. They made for excellent side characters and appeared enough to make this feel like a well-rounded story, without taking light away from Helen and Sully. I’m definitely tuned into the series, and I’m excited for Dani’s book next.

Overall, if you love a bit of an office romance and reverse age gap, you will want to check this story out! There are also many tropes & themes to enjoy including, small-town romance, found family, etc.

Narrated by Mackenzie Cartwright & JF Harding, both narrators were excellent, and I loved how they portrayed the characters. They brought life and emotions to them. I enjoyed the listening experience!

A
Anni Reynolds
Another brilliant Karen Grey, Carolina Classics addition! Great age-gap storyline

I'm a mega Karen Grey fan - and this is one of her best books so far! I highly recommend everyone picks this up (but even though it could technically be read standalone, it's better having read You Get What You Give, book 1 in the series, first, to meet the other characters and get to know the background).

We finally get Sully's story! This one picks up just a short time after book 1, after Vi and Nate's story ended. Sully has taken off on his boat and heads up towards Chesapeake Bay, when a terrible thing happens... He's back home and recovering but needs to get back working to keep his medical insurance active to keep paying his medical bills from that accident. He has a badly broken leg and can't stand up to do the mic and boom operating on movie and TV sets like he used to, but his friends are still in the industry and able to help set him up as an office assistant to a very hard to get along with line producer.

She, Helen (preferring to be called O'Neill), has difficulty holding onto assistants because she's demanding and likes everything to be done properly and in a timely manner. Her latest assistant just walked out after she messed up and got yelled at by Helen, again... and now she's in a lurch because production is about to begin on the next movie, and she needs an assistant! When she finds out they're sending her a ... young guy ... of all people, she's hesitant. Until he and his set experience, and his takes-no-crap attitude turns out to be exactly what and who she needs. And not just on set, but could it be that Sully, 10 years her junior, is a perfect match in all ways? A quick trip up to Chesapeake during a weekend off from filming, when he needs to retrieve his boat, may answer that question.

Karen always has such a beautiful way of writing, and all of her characters are just so incredible (incredibly written, because they are flawed in just the right ways), and chemistry between them, every time, flows perfectly. This particular story, I think, is the best one yet! And a great reverse age-gap storyline. I can always appreciation this trope, along with the workplace romance. And I love that all 5 of the friends are still present and show up a lot in this one... even Whitney! And the retro, back to the 90's is so much fun (this is set in the year I graduated, so I love that)!

Update - I loved the audio version!! Karen picked the perfect narrators! Mackenzie Cartwright did a beautiful job, as she always does. She’s definitely one of my favorite female narrators and is definitely fast approaching the top of my favorite list of all narrators. She suited O’Neill so very well. JF Harding is a new to me voice. He did a great job as Sully - I don’t think anyone else could have done it better or fit the role more perfectly. Great casting, Karen!

I received an advance review and listen copy from Karen Grey and Home Cooked Books Promotions, and this is my honest feedback. Thank you, Karen!