Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Hold Back the River by Ashley Dill

 *Book received for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

Three lives shattered by trauma. Two fatal decisions. One new beginning.

Returning to his empty childhood home by the river is harder than Patrick Moore expected. His memories of the riverbank were tainted the night he was arrested and his high school sweetheart went missing. After a fourteen year prison sentence, he searches for her, hoping to find companionship and a normal life.

Julia Collins is an adrenaline-junkie with one mission: outrun grief or die trying. After being furloughed for her mental health, she’s forced into sobriety and must navigate life without her poisons of choice — tequila and her job. That’s when she hits it off with the mysterious Patrick at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Fresh hope dawns in her heart, and she wonders if she can thrive despite her secrets and enjoy life again.

But it isn’t long before currents of regret rip them apart.

Can Patrick and Julia outlive the past? Or will they succumb to the river’s fury?

Hold Back the River, a contemporary romance set in Middle Tennessee, is a heart-rending story about how a lonely soul, a guilty conscience, and a broken heart find healing together at the river.

Ashley Dill is a contemporary romance author who lives with her four children and husband in the Upstate of South Carolina. As a busy homeschooling mom she wakes before the sun to write her stories! Her debut novel, HOLD BACK THE RIVER, is set where she grew up in Middle Tennessee.

Connect with Ashley on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleydillauthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ashleydill_author?igshid=OGQ5ZDc2ODk2ZA==

Oh my goodness, this story! 

Hold Back the River is far different from the lighter hearted romances that I am typically drawn to... but I am so very glad to have read it! This was such a beautiful romance dealing with love, grief and healing in such a real way that I couldn't help but be drawn into the lives of these characters. From the very first pages, I was hooked. The author did such a wonderful job of giving just bits and pieces of the past as the story went on, making me want to know everything that had happened and reading on to figure it all out. 

Still, I have to admit that I had to step away from this story a couple of times. Not because I didn't love the story, but because it was a very intense one! This book takes on some really tough topics--- suicide, sexual abuse, substance abuse, grief, depression and so on. These were talked about honestly and not at all sugar coated, but they were also handled with great respect and with minimal on page details. These were characters that had dealt with so much hurt and trauma in their lives and it just felt so genuine... which only made me root for them all that much more. 

Hold Back the River is a closed-door romance with nothing beyond kisses on the pages and very minimal language. Despite the heaviness and the content mentioned above, it truly was a story of healing and love. 

This story was so well written that I truly cannot believe that this was Ashley Dill's debut novel! Wow, talk about a debut! This certainly has me looking forward to what she will do in the future, that's for sure! While readers should definitely be aware of trigger warnings with this one, it truly was a beautiful read and one that will certainly stick with me for a long time. 


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