Review of Hold Your Breath

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Book 1
Published 5 April 2016
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As the captain of Field County's ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise "Lou" Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he's never felt more alive...even if keeping her safe may just kill him.

Lou's new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she's determined to make it on her own terms... no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou - and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.

I received a copy of Hold Your Breath from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. The following review is comprised of my opinions and mine alone.
While I was reading Hold Your Breath, I was repeatedly reminded of one of my favourite romance novel couples, Blayne Thorpe and Bo Novikov from Shelly Laurenston’s Beast Behaving Badly. Needless to say, Callum Cook and Lou Sparks have now joined the ranks of my favourite romance couples and I’ll be rereading Hold Your Breath a thousand times and randomly quoting parts of it in the middle of conversations much to my friends and family’s dismay. What can I say, I’m a weird potato.
Louise ‘Lou’ Sparks is the boisterous, goofy, and messy leady lady I love. She’s the type of woman who will trip over thin air and everybody in the tricounty area will witness it. But she’s also the woman who will teach herself to fix a propane heater the first time it breaks rather than cry about and spend the money she doesn’t have to call in a repairman to do the job for her every time it breaks. She’s just recently moved to Simpson, Colorado to become a person she'll like seeing in the mirror (a thing I can totally get behind) and she's working as the new waitress in the local cafe to make an honest paycheck. She’s also just joined Simpson’s volunteer Search & Rescue Dive Team – for anybody who doesn’t know, that means she’s diving into freezing cold water and swimming under the ice looking for whatever brain trust decided it’d be a good idea to take a stroll on the not-as-thick-as-they-thought-it-was ice. Lou’s pretty hardcore doing that but she’s also the spazz that has a slap fight with her buddy over some random thing.
Callum Cook is a retired Marine (because there’s no such thing as a ‘former’ Marine) and the leader of Simpson, Colorado’s Search & Rescue Dive Team – and Lou’s boss/trainer. He comes off as a bit of a stick-up-his-butt sort thanks to his OCD ways but he’s pretty great to me. He’s the perfect yin to Lou’s yang. Where Lou is outgoing and really friendly to absolutely everybody, Callum plays it more close to the vest, he’s cordial to everybody and he’s friendly to the search & rescue community but he keeps himself apart from his team since he’s the boss. Lou brings him out of his shell the more they’re together and he brings a bit of needed organisation to her life as well. He has moments where he’s “me Tarzan, you Jane” around her male friends but I think he’s pretty 21st century about his relationship with Lou overall – and I’ll admit, even I like a bit of the Tarzan attitude.
As always, Ms Ruggle’s romantic suspense kept me teetering on the edge of my seat, erm, bed, I’m a total bed reader. I was freaking the freak out with Lou’s stalker just standing there watching her sleep right outside her window. I had to hide under Manatee the Service Dog’s head at one point but I kept reading because I had to see what happened! I almost started chewing on Manny’s nails (mine are kept non-existent for a reason!) at a certain point you’ll recognise it when you get to it (did you honestly think I’d write a spoiler?!). Poor Manny didn’t get much sleep during this book’s read time, y’all. I ended up giving him a salmon skin rollup as an apology after I was finished the book.
One of my favourite things of Ms Ruggle’s writing is always her humour. In Hold Your Breath, it’s evident immediately in how Lou and Callum are introduced – there’s an actual slap fight involved. We also have uncle brothers – I thought those were only a South Georgia thing, honestly. And we had mocking of Big Bads, I can always get behind Big Bad mocking. It’s a favourite pastime of mine.
Now, the chemistry between Callum and Lou. I love love LOVE it. It’s dorky and weebly wobbly, is it there or not? But it’s also blatant and everybody and their neighbour knows it’s there, how can you not notice it? Between Lou’s messiness that invades every space that is hers at work or at home and Callum’s OCD proclivities that leave him absolutely horrified at the sight of her work locker let alone her living room, you just have to read the entire book to watch how the two manage to blend their personalities together. I have good reason to believe that the white board comes into play a lot more often than just for Lou’s weird obsession with HDG.
As for the whodunnits and whatsits. I thought I knew who the stalker was and then I was thrown for a loop then a loopdiloop! So I really and truly loved Ms Ruggle’s Hold Your Breath for managing to surprise me not just once but TWICE in my reading. I thought I was wrapping up the story after everything was over and she threw in that curveball and wham I didn’t know what to think! She is a constant font of surprises with every book I read. As always, you can tell that Ms Ruggle has put a lot of research into her writing. I actually found myself looking a few things up because I actually didn't know a thing or two which isn't very often in my world. I will always take the time to read a Katie Ruggle original just for that reason alone!
Hold Your Breath gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and just 3 out of 5 flames for spiciness. I look forward to reading the rest of this series which I’ll also be reviewing, I can’t wait to see who else from Simpson, Colorado gets bitten Ms Ruggle’s Love Bug and how their stories play out as always. I’ll be sure to let y’all know!

A fan of the old adage “write what you know”, Katie Ruggle lived in an off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains until her family lured her back to Minnesota. When she’s not writing, Katie rides horses, shoots guns (not while riding, although that would be awesome), cross-country skis (badly) and travels to warm places where she can scuba dive. A graduate of the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. A fan of anything that makes her feel like a bad-ass, she has trained in Krav Maga, boxing and gymnastics.
You can connect with Katie on her website, her Goodreads, her Facebook, or on her Twitter.

As always, get your hands on a copy of Hold Your Breath in a legal manner. And, if you're of a mind to and in a position where you're capable of doing so, please consider donating to Hidden Treasures Foundation which is a safe house program that helps young girls rehab after being rescued from sex slavery in the human trafficking industry. Until next time, have a happily ever after.

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