Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle Book Review

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle Book Review

Series: Search and Rescue Book 1

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Military, Mystery/Thriller

Spice: 🌶️🌶️🌶️ out of 5

Tropes: Grumpy/Sunshine, Forced Proximity, One Bed

Trigger Warnings: Stalking, Assault, Arson, Drowning


Moving away from fantasy romance for a bit to indulge in one of my other romance loves: military or military-adjacent romance. I don’t know why, but I love stories about tough military guys with hearts of gold that fight to protect their girls. Ruggle managed to write a really entertaining first book in her Search and Rescue series with Hold Your Breath. I found myself drawn into the characters of Lou and Callum and their hilarious relationship: her quirky personality and his quiet, grumpy self. They balance each other out really well, and make for a great relationship dynamic while the craziness of small-town drama unfolds around them.

The story centers around a volunteer dive-team rescue group headed up by Callum, an ex-marine with some OCD issues. After moving to the small Colorado town to get away from drama back home in Connecticut, Lou volunteers for a spot on the dive team and begins training with Callum. His grumpy nature can be a bit off-putting, but when Lou discovers a headless body in the reservoir and the tires on her truck slashed, Callum becomes the one person she can rely on.

I absolutely love the Grumpy-Sunshine trope. Something about stoic guys who present as grumpy and off-putting really entertains me. Especially when it’s revealed they really have a heart of gold, and reserve their true smiles for the people they care about. Callum definitely fits that picture, and paired up with Lou, we constantly see him get thrown off by something crazy or strange that she does. Meanwhile, Lou is trying hard to make the best of her new life in Colorado, finally away from her overbearing parents. Callum and his regimented, ex-marine nature provides the stability and organization that I think Lou needs to feel taken care of and supported. 

But romance isn’t the only part of this book. The relationships between the character are a great compliment to the action and mystery playing out through the book, and one that bleeds over through the rest of the series. One the best parts of reading military romances is there is always some kind of thrilling action. We have to show off the skills of the potential beau, show him protecting her and his friends or even the other way around. What I think Ruggle does great with her characters is making pretty kick-ass heroines who aren’t afraid to jump into tough situations. 

“Squeezing her palms against her temples, she took another deep breath. It didn’t help. Her heart was still hopping around in her chest. Letting her hands drop to her sides, she gave up. It was time to accept the fact that she was going to behave like an idiot in front of Callum. It was unfortunate but, at the same time, inevitable.”

~ Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

It all starts with the finding of a headless corpse while doing dive training leading to a mystery that spans the series four books. Then Lou finds her tires slashed for the second time and footprints outside her window. There’s a stalker in town, but Lou isn’t about to be scared out of town. We see consistently through the book Lou defending herself and getting through tough situations. She’s smart, resourceful, and over time becomes protective of Callum.

One thing I wish was included more in the book though was more instances of Lou using her skills as a diver. I think overall there were two or three times we see her put on her suit and actually get in the water, one of which being a training session. The other times, she’s working her day job as a barista. I also wish this was a dual-POV book. I think it would be interesting to see inside Callum’s head as he’s dealing with Lou and the depth of feelings he has for her.

I also really wanted there to be a little more spice, but I think when you take the book as a whole, it feels like a good progression of their relationship. They share some steamy kisses, and sex isn’t the center point of the book or story for that matter. For readers who don’t need more than three peppers on the spice scale to enjoy a book, I think the way Ruggle builds up the tension between them is still very enjoyable. I am immensely grateful the scenes are not fade-to-black or closed-door, as I love seeing how intense the male leads get when they finally get to indulge with the heroine. 

I’ll definitely be reading through the whole four books. The next one is a firefighter/ motorcycle club romance. I can’t wait to see what that one is like and how the big headless mystery shakes out in the next book. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this book, or are going to pick it up now! 

~~Thanks for Reading!~~

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