Hold Me Under, Water, Air, Earth, Fire, Book 1 By: Riley Nash Narrated by: J.F. Harding, Stephen Dexter

Reedkaye listened to Hold Me Under and shares their thoughts. "This story is intense from beginning to end. I feel unqualified to review it, it is that good. Two guys, for different reasons, are negatively impacted by their past. Both are so different and yet their interactions are entertaining."

From the blurb:

Love is cheap. Love is cruel. Love can’t save us.

Victor Lang had everything—looks, money, fame. A chance to become the greatest swimmer in history. Until a failed dope test brought him crashing down.

According to the rumors, he turned into a recluse, a drug addict, a whore. Broken beyond repair. Incapable of love.

And for some reason, he’s set his sights on me.

A freak accident in his pool throws me into a world of wealth and status and people who are willing to do anything to get what they want. Before I know it, I’m being paid to fly to Italy and pose as his boyfriend. Trapped at his side, I learn what it means to truly hate someone.

Turns out, that’s exactly what he wants.

I can’t save him, and I can’t love him. But as things fall apart and I discover the truths he’s hiding, I learn that hate can be greater than love—an obsession, a prayer, dark days and darker nights, a need to be the only one who hurts him. Hate can heal the worst wounds love leaves behind.

But I have problems of my own, a broken spirit and loved ones to protect. And I’m scared to face the things he’s waking up inside of me.

A gritty, emotional, epic hate-to-love slow burn with an inexperienced top and his bratty bottom, hurt/comfort, obsession, and healing.

Contains dark themes, adult content, and potential triggers, though every effort was made to portray them thoughtfully and sensitively.

Specific triggers (potential spoilers): sexual abuse (off the page), suicidal ideation, drug abuse, disordered eating, trauma, death, mental illness, homophobic language

Reedkaye's Review:

This is the first story I’ve listened to/read by this author and I wish I had found this and others sooner.  
Right from the beginning this story is an emotional heartbreaker.  Both guys have such big issues in their past that shaped their personalities.  

Victor is an ex professional swimmer who it appears ruined his chances at an Olympic medal.  Six years ago everything in his life came to a point of no return and he has been a shut in since.  His attitude is beyond rude and his outlook is dangerous.  And then he meets Ethan.

Ethan is a guy who had dreams of college when his mom got sick and he had to put his dreams aside to care for her.  He does everything he can to pay the bills but it leaves little for him.  When doing his job at Victor’s house he has a run in with Victor.  Right from the start there is this personality clash that is the start of love/hate.

Then Victor’s dad gets involved and makes Ethan a offer he can’t refuse.  While fulfilling this agreement Victor and Ethan get a lot more time together.  This is when all the backgrounds of these guys starts playing out in their daily lives.

I don’t feel I can begin to do justice reviewing this story.  There is so much that just tore me apart listening to it.  I could not help but feel sorry for Ethan for having to give up his dreams and settle for a life far different than he wanted.

Mostly I had a hard time with the emotional rollercoaster Victor’s story gave me.  The author does an excellent job of leading me to almost hate the guy for his perceived behavior.  At the end, even though the story ends well I still felt bad because there is nothing that can really fix Victor.  He is the perfect example of life treating someone unfairly.

I feel J.F. Harding and Stephen Dexter did a perfect job with the characters they represented and the situations they dealt with.  I could have never read the book and got the experience I did without the narration.

Rating: 5 Stars

Lesetiger's Review:

I love the wonderful writing style of Riley Nash, who is incredibly good with words.

The story is heartbreaking, and it is an emotional roller coaster ride. It took me a bit to warm up to Victor as a character because he already acts extreme. Victor's past is emotionally draining, but he acted so bratty and rude that I was beginning to wonder why Ethan was so patient for so long.

Ethan's story was no less emotional and kept me riveted. He actually carries far too great a burden for his age.

Each of them is struggling to find a bit of normalcy and Victor has built high walls around himself. It was nice to watch the two of them and see Ethan slowly break through to Victor.

The story is dark, painful and frustrating at times and at the end with hope and already kind of sweet.

The two narrators did a great job. They portrayed the emotions well, and I liked both their voices and the pace of the narration. It was a pleasure to listen to these two. 

🎧 Audiobook Review🎧
Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(⭐️) 4,5
Performance: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hold Me Under is available to buy from Audible and is Whispersynced.