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4.3 out of 5
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    Awesome

    Finishing this one is a bit bittersweet. While I loved Maggie and Shane's story, seeing this wonderful series come to an end is sad! This is a very emotional story and it was beautifully done. Five years ago Maggie O'Leary was the victim of date rape. While she thankfully doesn't remember the details, the emotional aftereffects have been crippling at times. Her one constant has been her friendship with Shane. Her latest request however will surely test that bond! While this is book 6 of a series it can easily be read stand alone, although I do recommend the series as well as this book!
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    I loved Hold Me Close from start to finish.

    Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Kim Hold Me Close is a standalone read and definitely not what I was expecting. Maggie has either appeared in or been mentioned in all the books in The O'Learys Series. Her actions in the previous book, Just a Taste, put her on my “I don't like list”. With that said, seeing how protective Shane was in that book, there was no way I was not going to read Hold Me Close. Shane Callahan and Maggie O’Leary have been best friends since they were sixteen, so maybe close to ten years. Five years ago, Maggie was assaulted and Shane blames himself. Over the years, Maggie's big family has walked on eggshells around her and pretty much put her back into the child “we have to take care of you” category. Hold Me Close is all about Maggie reclaiming her independence and her life. Reclaiming her life means being with a guy in every way. This is where Shane comes in. Maggie knows him, she trusts him, and he knows about her past. Maggie just doesn't know that Shane loves loves her. Hold Me Close was a book I loved from the start. Shane and Maggie had me laughing with the way they interacted with each other. I was able to feel for both of them, trying to overcome the past and have a future. I saw Maggie in a whole new light. Maggie is a survivor and just wants to show that she's stronger and can stand on her own. She showed determination to be the woman she wants to be. That coupled with the thought that off the pages, she’ll continue to try to make amends for her actions in Just a Taste are what I like about her. Shane is simply fabulous, even if he's only in ink and can't get me tea. (You have to read the book for their conversation on book boyfriends.) He's been there for Maggie throughout everything life has thrown at her. And I do mean life has dealt Maggie some bad things. But he's always been there, been her shoulder to lean, cry on, and protector. See why I ♥ him? Shane is a fabulous book boyfriend!!! Hold Me Close marks the end of The O’Learys Series. I’m hoping there will be a new series with some of the characters we’ve met over the series. **Received a copy from Kensington in exchange for an honest unbiased opinion.**
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    One of the sweetest best-friends-to-more stories

    After a terribly traumatic experience followed by years away from home, Maggie’s returned to the States to get her life back. And who better to help her figure it all out than her best friend Shane? Except Shane’s been in love with her forever, and Maggie’s about to ask him for a favor that will change things between them forever. The Verdict: I didn’t really even look to see what this story was about before grabbing it. I just knew that I’d read everything else so far in the series, and I didn’t want to miss the next one. So if you know anything about my favorite kinds of romance novels, you certainly aren’t surprised that I was thrilled to find out Hold Me Close is about best friends falling in love. First of all, trigger warning. The incident is well in the past and not disgustingly graphic, but fair warning to those who who’d prefer to avoid the subject matter of sexual assault in a story. Moving on… Maggie was raped by an ex-boyfriend and has had all kind of (understandable) trouble gaining her confidence and sense of security again. For the last several years, she’s been in Europe, but now she’s back and ready to take control of her life. Shane, her best friend, has been more or less in love with her since the beginning of time (or somewhere close to that), but time and circumstances were never in their favor. Now that she’s back, he’s hoping he’ll finally have his chance, but he never expected it to be the kind of chance she throws at him. Moving forward with her life again, Maggie’s in a better place, but sex hasn’t been a very comfortable thought for a long time. However, she trusts Shane, knows that she can be vulnerable with him without any fear of being hurt emotionally or physically, and for this reason she asks him to help her get over the final hurdle standing in her way. Sex. Shane wants what happens between them to be more than just physical or therapeutic. He wants it to be everything, the way she’s been his everything for so long. But he knows better than to push or take advantage of the situation, and so we meet one of the sweetest, most patient romance novel heroes I’ve read about in a long, long time. It’s not often that a plot that takes this turn can truly hold my attention without sending me into manic eyerolls, but the strong, genuine, established friendship between these two kept things pretty interesting and believable. It’s clear they love one another dearly, even when they haven’t really crossed the friendship line, and before long, they’re trying to figure out just how much this agreement they have is changing things. Obviously the friendship can never be the same, but moving full steam ahead into a relationship, as much as Shane may want that, is something Maggie faces with no small degree of trepidation. The characters were complex, and the story was a strong, fresh take on what would otherwise be a standard plot. Schroeder manages to weave deep friendship, fun banter, and sad circumstances of the past together into a truly hopeful romance without glossing over the issues Maggie has to overcome. It’s a tough subject to include and treat appropriately, and while it does get the happily ever after treatment (as anyone would hope when it comes to a romance novel) plenty of attention is paid to Maggie’s feelings and recovery (for lack of a better word). Hold Me Close is easily one of the sweetest best-friends-to-more stories I’ve read, and if Shane doesn’t steal your heart, there’s something very, very wrong with you. ***FicCentral received this book from Kensington Books (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review.
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    Friends to Lovers

    Maggie O’Leary is back home to reclaim her life after a tragedy from five years ago forced her to leave Chicago. Maggie is the youngest child and she expects her family to treat her with kid gloves, but thankfully her best pal, Shane would be around to run interference for her. Shane Callahan still carries a load of guilt over his inability to protect Maggie back then and is concerned about her plans but he is determined to keep her safe this time, even if it means moving next door to her and working alongside her in the family bar. Shane has always been in love with Maggie but never got the opportunity to tell her how he felt so when she propositions him, he has the perfect opening to move their relationship further. Maggie is a ball of energy, always on the go and Shane is her opposite, more of a watcher than a talker. Maggie and Shane have a comfortable and easy relationship born out of a long-time friendship and I enjoyed their teasing and playful banter, but as the story progressed their communication skills left a lot to be desired and both of them began to annoy me. Shane literally gave up everything to be available to Maggie, up to moving next door and watching out for her at her job under the pretense of working there. While I initially admired his commitment to Maggie, after a while he started to come across as a pushover, perfectly content to let Maggie get away with everything. Maggie was quite self-centered and all about what she wanted, without caring how it affected everyone else and it was surprising that she was so oblivious to Shane's more than-friendly feelings for her. In spite of how I felt about Maggie and Shane, I actually enjoyed reading HOLD ME CLOSE and I like how Ms. Schroeder was sensitive in dealing with the subject matter. Maggie's struggle to recover was heartwarming and her supportive friends and family went a long way to make that happen. By the end of the book, both Maggie and Shane had matured and were assertive about what they wanted from each other. This is my first book in the entire series and I'm glad I started with this one because now I have a reason to go back to the beginning of the series. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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    Enjoyable read

    Rape is not an easy subject, but I think Maggie's struggles with moving forward are well portrayed. I liked that there was a bit of a build up leading up to Shane helping Maggie get over the issues with sex, but I didn't really feel the chemistry between them. The communication between them is very poor after their night together and I found it frustrating. I love friends-to-lovers romances, but this one fell a bit short for me. Overall it's an enjoyable read, and if you've read the previous books in the series, you'll probably enjoy it. 3.5 stars I received an ARC via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.
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