I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp
Published by PMI Books on September 12, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.
But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor.
Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.
Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.
My Initial Reaction…
I literally COULD NOT put this book down. I kept renegotiating my bedtime until finally I had stayed up the entire night, finishing The Holdout in one sitting. Laurel Osterkamp presents an engaging story and wonderful characters that I could not pull away from.
Robin Bricker is an incredibly easy character to love. Robin’s mother passed away when she was only two years old, leaving her to be raised by her father and her two much older brothers. Early on you begin to realize that she was raised with a lot of love, but was always a bit of an outsider – the only girl and much younger than everyone else – and she seems to think she has something to prove. Robin also majored in theater in college and craves the opportunity for the spotlight. She gets an opportunity for both when she’s cast to be on the Survivor-like reality TV show The Holdout.
We first meet Robin after the show has been filmed and she’s going through the painfully embarrassing experience of watching the the competition as a new episode is aired each week. Things didn’t go exactly as she’d hoped and she made the mistake of falling in love with the man that was just using her to win the game, which is painfully obvious as each episode airs. Anyone who’s ever felt used will identify with Robin and even if you haven’t, your heart will go out for her. She’s trying to go about her day-to-day life as anonymously as possible, relishing the time spent away from social media while serving jury duty. I couldn’t help but cheer her on and groan over every embarrassing moment with her.
The supporting characters are well-written, with richly developed personalities and back stories. I loved getting to know her family, which came with a drama ridden sub-plot of its own, and seeing her varied relationships with them. Robin’s fellow jurors provide another group of fun characters; I love that she thinks of them by their juror numbers and her interactions with them are not only fun to read, but provide another element to the plot. And finally there are her fellow Holdout contestants. These characters develop for us through airings of the TV show or Robin’s flashbacks, much like they would for an audience with backstage passes. I love that way we get to see the differences between the way they are portrayed on TV and Robin’s own experiences. All-in-all, Robin steals the show, but the supporting characters make The Holdout an even more engaging read.
When The Holdout opens, Robin is appearing for a jury summons, one of the only individuals actually hoping to get picked. She craves the anonymity of serving on a jury, plus the welcome reprieve it will be from social media talking about how foolish she was on The Holdout as it airs on TV. She’s had her heart broken and now she has to relive it on national television. My heart went out for her, just as I couldn’t wait to see what had happened. I felt like I was the TV audience, watching episode after episode to see what Robin and the other contestants to do. Only I knew that something very bad had happened – I just didn’t know exactly what.
I loved the way we’d move back and forth between what’s happening in Robin’s present day-to-day life and her experience on The Holdout. This was never jarring, but well done, since each flashback fits in with when that episode was airing on TV. All the ways that the TV airings weaves into her life are incredibly fun to read, from the harassment of the media to the support of family and friends to crossing her fingers that she won’t be recognized, it was all believable and engaging. And Robin’s day-to-day life isn’t boring either. She’s serving on a jury, with it’s own obstacles and excitement – including meeting the handsome real estate agent, Nick. The humiliation and pain of being used by Grant (from The Holdout) has made Robin skiddish and you never really are sure what will come of this potential relationship. Then there’s her family. Her cousin Jack is having relationship problems that have landed him on her couch. And that’s above and beyond their typical competitiveness and her somewhat strained, though loving relationships with her brothers Ian and Monty. All of this is complicated by her embarrassment from the show airing and their comments of support/questioning. Everything overlaps and weaves together so well that it’s hard to stop reading!
This isn’t my typical choice, but it was oh so fun. It’s not a serious read, but you do get watch Robin grow into herself and find her confidence in a marvelous way. There are some funny moments, some wow moments, and some awww moments. All that makes for an engaging fun read that I really recommend.