Friday, November 8, 2013

YOURS TO KEEP by Serena Bell

YOURS TO KEEP by Serena Bell
ARC Review
Published: November 11, 2013, Loveswept

My rating: 4.5 of 5 ⭐️

For twenty years, Ana Travares and her family, have lived under the radar. Moving from the Dominican Republic to the US at age seven with her mother and brothers was legal at the time, until her father changed his mind about coming and left the children alone with a dying mother and an expired visa. Ana adjusted well to the language and the culture, and learned to use that to her advantage. Working as a Spanish tutor and adult ESL teacher, she has been able to avoid any legal entanglements that might expose her or her close knit family. Until one day her sleezy supervisor calls her into his office waving some immigration documents and makes some strong sexual advances in return for which he suggests he can make them disappear.

As a pediatrician, Ethan Hansen is well-known for his ease with kids, and it doesn't hurt that his good looks are a hit with the moms. However, he is out of his league when it comes to his own teenage son, Theo. After his wife's death, eight years ago, it has always just been the two of them, but the last few years have been progressively more difficult. This last stunt of Theo's, bailing on his Spanish classes, is testament to that. Determined to grab the bull by the horns, Ethan is outside the supervisor's office in search of a Spanish tutor, when he hears a woman's voice cry out, "Stop it!".

The voice belongs to Ana, and Ethan can't believe his luck when he determines the beautiful but slightly distressed woman is in fact a Spanish tutor. Without any hesitation he hires her to help out his son and within no time Ana has Theo eating out of her hand, with Ethan not far behind. But Ethan can sense that Ana is holding something back, she is skittish and at first resistant to his advances. Or it could just be he has gotten rusty over the years, but the heat in her eyes tells a different story. Ana can't hold out for long, and even though she knows she should tell Ethan the truth about her status, she can't seemt to find the right time.

It is inevitable that Ethan finds out about Ana's citizenship and he is hurt that he didn't trust her enough to tell the truth. Anna thinks she, once again, has been unceremoniously dumped and is devastated. Although slightly bruised, Ethan is far from ready to give up on Ana, and spent his time considering ways in which he could help her. When he faces her with the proposal he has come up with, she can hardly believe her ears. Her initial reaction is anger and fear, but slowly she starts to see the beautiful possibilities.......


A heart-felt and genuine story. Really captivating storyline and an interesting show of cultural diversity and parallel. Aside from the fact that it was a truly great, hot, juicy love story, of course!!!!

Very well done, the way the background contexts for both main characters were slowly laid out through the story, rather than all piled up in the beginning. I love when writers let us get to know the characters the way we would in real life.........little by litte, as circumstances dictate, in a purely natural flow. That's what Serena Bell did here with both Ana and Ethan. No big information sheets thrown at us at the beginning, just a progressive 'getting to know' process.......wonderfully done!!
It helps to better understand where each of the individuals' perspective. Even Ana's brother's, who may not always seem like such a great guy, but because of the situational and background picture that was emerging, even his point of view was sort of understandable.

Ana has known nothing else but to live 'in the shadows' for all of her cognisant life. Avoiding direct questions, situations where paperwork would be needed (there are so many of those!!), always keeping a low profile, trying hard not to stand out. It must have been utterly tiring and completely absorbing to have to be that aware always. Almost like living in occupied or enemy territory, scary. Not surprising therefore, that she doesn't trust easily, or even at all! She wouldn't know how, she's never been taught how, or proven she could. Her saving grace from becoming as distrustful and cynical as her siblings, is that she believes in love, with an innocence that makes those around her so protective, she believes there is inherent goodness in people. 

Ethan is a good man, a decent man, but simply going through the motions after the death of his wife left him with a young son to raise by himself. He really never moved on from simply functioning. Not truly engaging with Theo, yes he would do all the practical parenting stuff, but he would really connect with his son. Which is why Theo at fifteen, becam the bane of his existence. His brother James had tried to tell him to 'get a life' a number of times, but I don't think it resonated until he met Ana and actually felt there WAS a life to be lived. It didn't hurt that she fairly effortlessly was able to get through to Theo in a matter of hours and somehow managed to ease the tension between Ethan and his son at the same time. 

What I love about this story is that it is NOT the usual trope of rich doctor saves poor immigrant girl, or some such thing. For one thing, I'm not sure who is saving who here....... and for another, the 'poor immigrant girl' ended up with a fair set of brass balls, once she discovered there were avenues she could take on her own. She was determined to 'save' herself, one way or another, I think Ethan was the one who was more at risk of getting lost here........

A great story, that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Serenca Bell does not disappoint when it comes to creating chemistry and passion between her characters, but it doesn't overshadow the impact of the story. Amazing!!

✨Compelling, thought-provoking, passionate and insightful!✨

**ARC provided by NetGalley and Loveswept in return for an honest review.**

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