Official Review: Holding Fast by Jeanine Binder

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CaitlynLynch
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Official Review: Holding Fast by Jeanine Binder

Post by CaitlynLynch »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Holding Fast" by Jeanine Binder.]
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1 out of 4 stars
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Holding Fast is an interracial romance between Eli, a black New York City police detective from the Major Crimes unit in Hell’s Kitchen, and Ainsley, a white romance novelist. The pair meet when Eli stops a mugger attacking Ainsley while she is helping out in her father’s deli. Eli isn’t looking for a serious relationship, but there is something about Ainsley he can’t quite resist, and he soon finds himself head over heels in love with her. Ainsley’s abusive ex-boyfriend entering the picture adds drama and suspense to the story.

Racially diverse protagonists are few and far between in romance novels, so I was delighted to pick this one up for review. Unfortunately, Holding Fast is the kind of book that makes me understand just why people of colour often take offence to white people trying to write about people of colour. Trying to write an interracial relationship is admirable, but the implications in this one are incredibly racist. The narrative informs us early in the book that Eli is a serial dater, that he prefers one night stands and does not ‘do’ serious relationships. Almost immediately after meeting Ainsley, he thinks how attractive she is, but then notes that “Something else I don’t do is date white women, no matter how prejudiced that sounds.

Well, yes, that did sound pretty prejudiced, but Eli almost immediately breaks his own rule by asking Ainsley for a date. Of course the relationship progresses and turns serious, and the narrative tells us repeatedly how Eli has never felt like this before, how Ainsley is ‘special’.

I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt in that perhaps she hadn’t thought the implications through, but they were quite obvious to me. The implication is that black women are only good enough for one night stands, and white women are the ones you get serious about.

I am white and I found that offensive. I can only imagine how offensive I’d find it if I happened to be black. It’s a disaster that could easily have been averted by removing Eli’s line about not dating white women, and any competent editor should have picked it up.

However, I can tell that this book was not edited by a competent editor; not only for the above reason, but for the constant changes of tense, sometimes even within the same sentence. While the majority of the book is written in the standard past perfect, there are regular switches into present tense, sometimes even mixing the two within sentences, such as the following example:

I grabbed my backpack and a twelve-pack of beer from the trunk and hurry my way to the front door.”

While the tense changes got on my nerves very quickly, they weren’t as bad as some of the issues in the book. Things like research errors where the author refers repeatedly to New York’s Rikers Island prison as “Ryker’s”. Or a police detective in 2016 not knowing what Google Maps is (that one had me blinking in disbelief). Or inconsistencies such as police having to use a battering ram to break into a property which had already been identified as a crime scene when paramedics found Ainsley badly injured there. The assault on Ainsley itself was so sudden and graphic that I had to put the book down for a few minutes, stunned that such a shocking scene would be written in a romance novel. It was just too much.

Holding Fast has its good moments; Ainsley’s life as a romance novelist felt completely plausible and genuine, as did Eli’s genuine horror on finding a psychopath’s lair at the conclusion of one of his major cases. Even experienced detectives can still be shocked, and Eli’s reactions were perfectly captured.

With some major content and line editing, this could be a good book. At the moment, however, it’s really not. I cannot recommend it to anyone, and I cannot award it any more than one out of four stars.

******
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Enos Wesonga
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Post by Enos Wesonga »

This book is all about racial discrimination among black women,the book portrays black women are only meant for one night stand which is unacceptable in this century especially coming your fellow black man.This book needs to be reviewed .

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Post by kandscreeley »

Well, I'm sorry this one didn't do it for you. I hope that the next book you read will be better! I always hate giving 1 star reviews!
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Post by Mercy Bolo »

Racial discrimination is real. It's unfortunate that this book received only one star.
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Post by EWinters »

The irony of your review of Holding Fast is that one of the main issues you had with the book is sadly what makes it quite realistic. As a black woman who has had and currently have many black male friends. It is not uncommon for some black men to use black women as jumpoffs then fall in love with a white woman who is "special" after previously never "doing" serious relationships or dating white women. I do agree, however, that it is disappointing that this is the route this author chose to go for her romance novel. However, a plus to her decision to do so is the conversation that decision has generated here and may generate amongst other readers.
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Post by CatInTheHat »

CaitlynLynch wrote:[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Holding Fast" by Jeanine Binder.]

Well, yes, that did sound pretty prejudiced, but Eli almost immediately breaks his own rule by asking Ainsley for a date. Of course the relationship progresses and turns serious, and the narrative tells us repeatedly how Eli has never felt like this before, how Ainsley is ‘special’.

I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt in that perhaps she hadn’t thought the implications through, but they were quite obvious to me. The implication is that black women are only good enough for one night stands, and white women are the ones you get serious about.

I am white and I found that offensive. I can only imagine how offensive I’d find it if I happened to be black. It’s a disaster that could easily have been averted by removing Eli’s line about not dating white women, and any competent editor should have picked it up.
I have to wonder what experiences or perspectives the author might have drawn on while writing. Or if it's rather a lack of knowledge, causing the author to engage perhaps unintentionally, in offending her readers.
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CaitlynLynch
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Post by CaitlynLynch »

CatInTheHat wrote: I have to wonder what experiences or perspectives the author might have drawn on while writing. Or if it's rather a lack of knowledge, causing the author to engage perhaps unintentionally, in offending her readers.
As I said, I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt in that perhaps she just didn't think the implications through. I'm not particularly fond of the 'reformed rake' trope, though, and Eli is exactly that in a modern-day setting. It's common enough in romance novels, especially Regencies, and the reality is that plenty of men ARE 'players'. I wouldn't have found it offensive in the slightest if that one line about only dating white women had been removed.

This is where good editing comes into play. I'm an indie author myself, and I have too much respect for my readers, people who I am asking to shell out their hard-earned money to buy my book, to offer up work that hasn't been properly edited by a professional. Sadly too many indie authors cut corners to save money here, or fail to use critique partners even, and turn out a product that is so blatantly inferior readers are likely to be put off ever reading anything of theirs again. It's no way to build a readership.

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Post by LadyClaire »

Its sad that Holding Fast by Jeanine Binder didn't really hold fast with you no matter how well she had intended. The story line seems cool and the book could be great if your observations are put into play. Anyways, thanks for the review.
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