Book review: Kate Evangelista’s “No Holding Back”

If you’ve been following this blog for as long as it’s been around – five years now? – you’d know that this blog has been an early supporter of Filipino author Kate Evangelista.  I featured her as far back as 2012, when she only had Taste out in stores. Then, I featured her twice in 2014: one was an interview, while the other was a review of Savor

She hasn’t stopped putting out books since then, and her most recent offering, set to be out in the wild on October 18 this year, is an M/M romance entitled No Holding Back. I was fortunate enough to be provided an ARC by Kate herself, and I’m more than happy to share my thoughts on the book under the cut!

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No Holding Back tells the story of Nathan and Preston, two childhood friends who’ve seen each other through thick and thin. Nathan is gay and Preston is, ostensibly, straight, but this has never been an issue between the two.

The pair are at a crossroads at the start of the book: Nathan is looking to jumpstart a party-planning business while Preston is training to get into the Olympics. But when a less-than-stellar performance during a tryout for a spot in a prestigious coach’s team sends Preston in a spiral of self-doubt and worry, Nathan takes it upon himself to provide Preston with a distraction that will hopefully get him back on track.

The distraction, as it turns out, is a trip across Europe. And more than just calming Preston down, Nathan also hopes to bare his soul and let Preston know how he’s been feeling about him all this time. But is it really such a good idea to imperil such an old friendship? Would it be better for everyone involved if Nathan just held back?

Kate Evangelista isn’t a novice when it comes to romance – it’s been present in the dozen or so books she’s written over the years. But this is the first time she’s written an M/M one, and seeing as I’m a gay man myself, I was pretty intrigued as to how she was going to tackle this particular genre. This could end up being a less than ideal attempt, and where would we end up then?

Thankfully, No Holding Back is a great barometer of how much better Kate’s work has gotten over the years. I like to think I was one of the first to discover her – I believe the paper where I used to work was where she first got featured as an author – and I feel more than a little pride seeing her work get strong and stronger with each new release. This is a much cleaner, tighter work than Savor, and is definitely miles ahead of Taste. I believed in the ups and downs of Nathan and Preston’s story, and I had a smile on my face by the end of the book.

Any problems I had with it came from – seriously – a much more personal place, and it would be unfair to bring it up against the book when I feel like it should be a conversation I should be having with myself and not the book. Why did I dislike that particular thing, when it is a perfectly valid…thing? Basically, I need therapy.

ANYWAY. No Holding Back is a fun, sweet little book, and it’s a great thing to curl up with if you want to spend an afternoon just being lazy and relaxing. Watch out for it once it comes out on bookstore shelves, and hopefully you have as great a time with it as I did.

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