Breaking up is hard to do: Hold It Close, book three of the MacAteer Brothers.

Relationships are complicated. Some experts say there are five stages to go through and others say ten. In whatever level subscribed, one common part is always the getting-to-know-your-partner stage. This is the part when the good, the bad, and the ugly come out. Ever been in a toxic relationship? Hear that little voice in the back of your head that whispers at the first inkling of trouble and ignore it?I based Hold It Close on that idea, however in this case the main male character, Garrett MacAteer, is the victim. I profiled the Garret on a friend of mine who had a nasty breakup. The lingering fallout hit every aspect of his life. It affected his business, his friendships, and his personal life, and the recovery will be a long one.


I can relate and I’ll bet money a bazillion other people can too.


Garrett is faced with making the hard decision of whether to continue in such a poisonous environment. Thankfully, he chooses to move on, but that doesn’t mean he has no scars. He’s still hurting and has moments of self-reflection that make him feel weak and less than a man. I think this, too, is a stage we go through. The bargaining of what could we have done differently, better words we should have used, or changing something about ourselves to keep the other person happy and loving us. Garrett deals with this throughout the book as he recovers the man inside himself and learns to love again.


He’s starting over from scratch in a new town, and a new job, but he’s not doing it alone. He has the support of his family, which is critical in any healing process, and discovers Bertie Shore, the woman who will ultimately help him heal.

She is also recovering from a broken marriage, although not as toxic as Garrett’s engagement. Bertie fell into a different trap. One of relationship stagnation, where two people stay together more out of habit than genuine love. This is also something I’ve seen happen with couples where they simply grow apart and want to follow different pathways. Ever see a marriage of thirty-plus years that suddenly breaks apart? This is when two people realize they no longer love each other and recognize a need to rediscover themselves as individuals. Not necessarily a bad thing, but there is still a grieving process to go through.


The purpose of Hold It Close is there is always healing and hope. When Garrett and Bertie find each other on a chance encounter, it changed their worlds for the better. They got their lives back and strengthened themselves to be better than ever. I think that possibility exists for everyone, including my friend who inspired this story. It might take years to find, or it could happen during a chance encounter. I pray that Hold It Close will give a little comfort and confidence that life continues, and better times will come along.

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ML Nystrom

Author  of MC and Contemporary Romance.