Hold on Tight by Shelley Shepard Gray

About the book: Jackson Koch had already lost his wife to cancer when the town’s coal mines shut down and his job was gone too. So, with a three-year-old daughter to care for and a broken heart to mend, he moved across the country to find a new life in Bridgeport, Ohio. Now he tends bar by night and tries to navigate life as a single dad by day. Luckily, his neighbor is happy to babysit while he works late nights. She’s great with little Kate, beautiful, kind … and lately he’s found himself smiling whenever he thinks about her.

Dani Brown also knows what it’s like to lose a spouse and raise a child on her own. Cleaning houses during the day, and taking online classes at night, she dreams of running her own preschool someday. And, since her fourteen-year-old son Jeremy’s baseball team requires a lot of money, she’s thrilled to earn some extra cash by watching her handsome neighbor’s adorable little girl. But even with two jobs, she’s having trouble making ends meet.

When Jackson sees Dani running herself ragged for her son’s baseball ambitions he decides it’s time to get the Bridgeport Social Club involved. Together they cook up a plan. They will run a charity poker tournament to support Jeremy’s dream and help out a hardworking single mom. But will Dani be able to accept help from the handsome neighbor she’s starting to feel more-than-friendly feelings for? And how far is she ready to let those feelings go?

Get ready to fall in love with Shelley Shepard Gray’s Bridgeport Social Club again, where a poker night is so much more than a game of cards and an extraordinary community of ordinary men and women come together to offer love, light, and hope to everyone they encounter.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Bridgeport Social Club

My thoughts: As a fan of Shelley Shepard Gray’s books let me start with a bit of a disclaimer. If you are expecting this book to be a squeaky clean read like her Amish books are, it’s not. There’s a teensy bit of language and this book has some heat in the romance department. If you don’t like those elements then take a pass on this book. However, if you don’t mind some language and heat then be sure to pick up a copy of this book because it’s a really great read.

Let’s talk about the characters in this book. They are very realistic and down to earth. I like that in a story. When the characters are easy to relate to it makes the book more entertaining. Dani and Jackson are both realistic characters and ones that readers can empathize with and wish the best for. Add in characters from the previous books in the series and some new ones to this story and it was like hanging out with friends. It was so easy to forget these were fictional characters.

As with all of her books, SSG has a writing style that captivates readers from beginning to end. This book was effortless to read and had me wanting to pack my bags and visit Bridgeport. Which may be a problem because it’s a fictional place so unless she writes more books set there it looks like I won’t be going for any visits. (Please write more books that are set there!) I love the little poker tidbits at the beginning of each chapter. I think they added to the charm of the story and just gave the book a little more charm.

If you like contemporary fiction then you must add this book to your tbr list. It is part of a series but I think stands well on its own so it isn’t necessary to read the other books before this one. I’ve read them though and highly recommend them as well. This book is a great weekend read or vacation read. Just be sure to clear a bit of time because once you start this book it will be difficult to put down! Happy reading!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray has published over seventy novels. She currently writes Amish romances for Harper Collins, Kensington, and Simon & Schuster and contemporary women’s fiction for Blackstone Publishing.

Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Her novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degree in educational administration. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults, and always has a dachshund by her side. She is an active member of her church, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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