Strong Hold

Strong Hold

by Sarah Castille


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For the longest moment Zack's brain couldn't process the sight in front of him.
Seven years, ten months and twenty-seven days. That was how long it had been since he'd seen her. That was how long it had been since he'd lived a life without regret.

Fight promoter Zack Grayson is on the prowl for a rising star. As the top recruiter of a prestigious MMA promotion company, he wants to take someone where he will never be able to go again: the top of the professional league. He didn't expect that someone to be the woman he loved...and left.

Top-ranked MMA amateur fighter Shayla "Shilla the Killa" Tanner built walls around her heart when Zack left her seven years ago—and again when her husband turned violent. Now, seeing Zack is nearly enough to send those walls crumbling. But she can't risk the exposure of the limelight, and she definitely can't risk another heartbreak.

As Shayla and Zack grow closer, though, business turns personal. And once their passion unleashes, there's no going back...

Redemption Series
Against the Ropes (Book 1)
In Your Corner (Book 2)
Full Contact (Book 3)
Fighting Attraction (Book 4)
Strong Hold (Book 5)

What People Are Saying About Sarah Castille's Redemption series:
"Powerful. Gritty. And sexy beyond belief. Sarah is a true master!"—Opal Carew, New York Times bestselling author of His to Claim
"Emotionally charged, amazingly sexy, and flat out fantastic." —Fresh Fiction for Full Contact
"Castille continues to introduce characters who are both intense and vulnerable. The females are more than a match for the men in their lives, and these guys are worth their efforts." —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars for Full Contact

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492620471
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Series: Redemption Series , #5
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 209,678
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sarah Castille worked and traveled abroad before trading her briefcase and stilettos for a handful of magic beans and a home near the Canadian Rockies. She writes sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense featuring blazingly hot alpha heroes and the women who tame them.

Chandra Skyye loves bringing characters and stories to life through voice acting and singing the blues. A lover of life, she spends her spare time being creative, appreciating nature, and sharing fun times with nice people and good dogs.

John Masterson is a classically trained actor and craftsman. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest.

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Strong Hold 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Daniela Fonseca More than 1 year ago
First I'd like to thank netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was simply amazing, I've read of Sarah Castille books and I've thoroughly enjoyed them but this one checked all the boxes for me.(So much so that I've already read it twice!!) A strong heroine that faced the worst moments of her life, only to get back up again even stronger and a amazingly sweet hero who did everything he could to prove his love. It was an exhilarating book and at the same time sad to remember and come to terms with the time they lost together and every thing they endured while they were apart. I'ts a beautifuly written book and an amazing story, I definitely recomend this book to all readers.
LynnB888 More than 1 year ago
First love reunited! This entire series has been a lot of fun to read with some great characters and connections, but this book right here has topped it all for me. There's just something about Shayla and Zack and the young love they once knew that made me sit up and watch with baited breath to see how it was all going to play out. How was he going to feel when he found out the life she'd been dealt after he left her? How was she going to feel when she learned why he walked away? And most importantly of all, were they going to find a way to get past all of the pain and just love each other again? Really loved their story!  Amateur MMA fighter Shayla Tanner never expected to see her teenage love again. They had big plans for after she graduated, but in the blink of an eye, Zach told her he was leaving and she should move on with her life. She never got over the heartbreak he dished out, but she tried to pick up the pieces and move forward. Sadly the next man she trusted wound up breaking her heart too when he turned into an abusive husband. She's finally picking up the pieces for herself and herself only ... she doesn't need anybody anymore, just the thrill of the fight! Fight promoter Zack Grayson walks into Redemption gym looking for the next big thing to promote through the professional MMA circuit, but he's jaw dropping shocked to bump into his ex Shayla after almost eight years. He had a great career climbing the ranks of the MMA lifestyle after he left her, until it all fell apart at his fingertips. Still high regarded and working behind the scenes these days, Zach is still doing well for himself. He can't believe Shayla is a fighter now ... and he also can't believe the attitude change in her from the girl he knew and loved.
Catherine1979 More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book, it's everything a second chance Romance should be. From anger, devastation, reconciling, to happiness, you get all these emotions. This is definitely my favorite of the series and the most heartbreaking and heartwarming. I love this author's work and can't wait for more.
sweetpotato101 More than 1 year ago
Strong Hold by Sarah Castille had all the makings of an all-star MMA romance. There's second-chance romance, a female MMA fighter, a found family group of fighters. I simply couldn't give Zack a chance. Shayla is known as Shilla the Killa in the ring, but she is having a string of bad luck. Not only against her opponents, but on the personal front as well. Enter previous flame, Zack Grayson. He unleashes feelings better left forgotten. If only it were that easy... I like Shayla. She is a survivor, plain and simple, and I had mad respect for her. She turned to MMA for protection, but found herself wanting it as her career. I hope to see more stories around female MMA fighters. That leaves us with why this book didn't work for me. I'm picky with my heroes. They have to be deserving of the heroine for me to love them, and Zack didn't make the cut. He expects a hell of a lot out of Shayla for very little sacrifice and commitment on his part, and I was baffled. He left her without a goodbye, without letting her know his "plan," and then he gets angry when a year later he finally comes back for her and she has moved on. Zack commiserates on it SO MUCH, and I shook my head at him because, really? You expected her to put her life on hold without a word or promise from you? The man who gets a little wild 'n crazy with other women to boot while she's supposed to wait? No, I have no sympathy for you. I quit pretty early on, but if you can overlook that whole Zack self-made problem, you'll get a heroine to cheer for.
belllla More than 1 year ago
This is my first book from the series and I can't believe it that I didn't know about this one because I love to read MMA. It is emotionally second chance love story between retired MMA champion Zack and former ballerina now amateur fighter Shayla. After many years Zack and Shayla's path is cross again but everything is different, especially Shayla because of her traumatic years since Zach and her broke up. Zack cannot believe that Shayla is back in his life and he will do anything that she stays in his life for good. The story was solid strong with great character, main and all the others it was great to see Redemption "family" and how they stood together. Also, the scenes between Zack and Shayla were hot. We see two different fights in the book and both were enjoyable to read. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly.
Linda__ More than 1 year ago
I LOVED learning Shayla's story and what she went through to land at Redemption. I had thought she was an interesting character in prior books, but had no idea just how compelling her history would be. When Zack walked into Redemption, I was prepared to hate him, but the author made me care about him and his story as well. I felt invested in their story and found myself turning pages just as quickly as possible. When you pick up a book by this author, you are assured of compelling characters with depth and sexy romance. For fans of the genre, this is a must read. While this is part of a series, this is a stand alone novel. The series is so good, though, you really owe it to yourself to read them all. The author is on my must read authors' list.
MJHughes12 More than 1 year ago
Another great book in the Redemption series that features a second chance romance and two people who need to face their own fears before they can find their way back to one another. I’m a big fan of sports romance and I just love the everything about the Redemption gym – from the gritty and realness that comes through in the writing to the diverse group of characters that are featured, especially as they find themselves becoming more family than just friends. I really loved Shayla and was excited to get to learn her story. She’s had a tough time of things, starting with the way things ended with Zack to the wreck that was her marriage. She’s turned to MMA fighting to learn how to protect herself and she has found a new passion in her fighting. When Zack unexpectedly walks back into her life it’s clear these two have some unfinished business, but until they both face the fears of their past there is little chance that these two could find a future. Like all the stories in this series, the supporting cast of characters adds so much to the book, and I especially loved getting to know the people that Shayla worked with as well. Even though this wasn’t my favorite in the series –I do love second chance romances but I did think Zack was a bit of jerk when he walked out on Shayla –this was a solid read just like all the others. And I love when the women are just as fierce and strong as all of those alpha males they have to deal with! This is one series that is definitely worth reading! I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book I received from the publisher from NetGalley.
nelriv More than 1 year ago
Rcvd an ARC at no cost to author..(netgalley)This book is part of a series so to get a better feel for book I suggest that you grab a copy and read. This book was a second chance one between Shayla and Zack. These two were once high school sweet hearts but Zack left and destroyed Shayla, now he wants to know more about her, how does someone who was a ballerina is now an MMA fighter and can he fix the problems between them? They go back and forth until we finally get what happened and what they are doing to correct, I enjoyed getting to know her and appreciating how tough this woman really is.
DJTP More than 1 year ago
Strong Hold by a new to me author Sarah Castille. A spicy story in the Redemption series which I haven't read any books in. I still liked the story it had great characters and dialogue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book in the Redemption series by Sarah Castille! I have read all the books in this series and was so excited to read Shayla's story. It was a page turner and I really enjoyed it. The redemption series is a favorite, this one didn't disappoint!
Sandy-thereadingcafe More than 1 year ago
4.25 stars-dramatic, intense captivating 4.25 stars--STRONG HOLD is the fifth instalment in Sarah Castille’s contemporary, adult REDEMPTION erotic, MMA, romance series focusing on the men and women of the MMA Club Redemption. This is thirty-year old MMA fighter and promoter Zack ‘Slayer’ Grayson, and twenty-five year old, former ballerina turned MMA fighter Shayla Tanner’s story line. STRONG HOLD can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Told from first person point of view (Shayla), and third person perspective (Zack) STRONG HOLD follows the second chance romance between MMA fighter and promoter Zack ‘Slayer’ Grayson, and former ballerina turned MMA fighter Shayla Tanner. Zack and Shayla were childhood best friends, and high school sweethearts but on the night Shayla gave Zack her most prized possession, Zack walked away without a second glance. Fast forward to present day, wherein Shayla will come face to face with the man that broke her heart, and destroyed her soul. Enter MMA fighter and promoter Zack ‘Slayer’ Grayson, and the man with whom Shayla was still in love. What ensues is the rekindling romance between Zack and Shayla, as Zack takes control of Shayla’s training, in an effort to get closer to the woman he loves. Zack had no idea that Shayla Tanner, his Shayla Tanner, was on the amateur circuit of the MMA. Heading into Redemption to recruit possible new talent, Zack will have to face the wrath of the woman from whom he walked away but a woman who has lost and suffered more than Jake could ever have imagined. Shayla struggled in the years following Zack’s ill-timed escape but none more so than into the arms of an abusive man who all but destroyed what was left of our heroine’s life. The relationship between Zack and Shayla is one of second chances; a rekindling romance between former best friends, and sweethearts but a romance that suffers with too many memories from the past. Zack is determined to prove himself worthy of Shayla’s trust and respect even if it means protecting her from herself. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense but, once again, I take issue with a certain four-letter word that I find unnecessary in a romance story line. Used only once, I felt it was more for shock value than descriptive narration. Most of the previous story line couples and characters play secondary and supporting roles, some byway of mention or cameo appearance: Blade Saw, Renegade, Rampage, Torment, Homicide Hank, Fuzzy and Doctor Death (all of the nick names must be used in the arena and at the gym), as well as the only other female fighter at Redemption Sandy, and Shayla’s nemesis in the ring Carla Gordon. STRONG HOLD is a dramatic, intense and captivating story. The premise is energetic and impassioned; the characters are dynamic and vigorous; the romance is provocative and fated. Sarah Castille writes tantalizing romances, strong heroes, and sassy heroines.
CrystalsBookWorld More than 1 year ago
I have been a huge fan since Sarah Castille started writing her Redemption series. I was super excited when I heard she was bringing us a new book out of this series! WOW!!!! I could not take my eyes off each word. Zack had me from the get go and Shayla was my hero. When I saw the heartbreak and then the endurance to put their lives back together, I was lost in their world. I love a good fight series, but Sarah adds more heart than what I have read in the past. You will fall for these characters. You will get all warm and gooey when you are brought back with old friends. The emotions this book brought out of me was something furious. You will be feeling a storm brewing and want to throat punch a few characters a time or two. What can I say? Strong Hold brought out the beast in me lol. MUST READ for the summer! You need to make sure you have a quiet weekend ready because once you start this book, you will not put it down!
NadineBookaholic More than 1 year ago
The attraction is obvious, the pain is visible, what you don't see right away is why they broke up the first time they were together. Can Shayla and Zack both get past the pain the break-up caused each of them? In this fifth book of the Redemption series we are gifted with not only one MMA fighter but two! "Shilla the Killa" and "Slayer". Shayla, aka Shilla the Killa, was eight when she first met Zack, who was thirteen at the time, and there was just something between them. At first it was friendship that grew to attraction that grew into something more but Shayla's brother didn't like Zack in her life and he made it known that what he thought of him. This is the part that gets me, Zack finally leaves Shayla for what he thinks will be a better life, as a dancer at a prestigious ballet company in New York, but her life is anything but that. She gets married to an abusive man that is much older than she is and her brother has one talk with him? And that's it? Ugghhh, men! Anyway thanks to her ex almost killing her she moves across country and goes to the Redemption gym to start her MMA career because dancing is no longer in the cards for her. Zack has had his own set of problems and regrets in the seven years since he walked out of Shayla's life, one being that she married...he has no idea that it wasn't a good marriage, and two, in his last MMA fight the fighter he was up against died in the ring. This was a life changing event for him because he took the blame of his oppoinents death on his shoulders even though he was told it wasn't his fault, so now he is a MMA recruiter, which is what brings him to Redemption. Imagine the shock and surprise when he sees Shayla there! If you enjoy Sports Romances this is a perfect series for you. The book can be read as a standalone but it's more enjoyable if you read the series in the order which it has been released. Happy Reading!!! **I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book**
JulieD2 More than 1 year ago
I liked this story, especially the heroine. She had been beaten badly and had decided she would never be helpless again and learned how to defend herself. All the characters were very likeable and the situations were relatable. It’s always nice to revisit characters from past novels and there are several reoccurring throughout this story to add continuity to the series. Strong heroes are the best, add a strong heroine and I’m in seventh heaven. Love how they can show their true feelings as well as strengths. An enjoyable read!
carvanz More than 1 year ago
Seven years ago Zack left Shayla so she could follow her dreams. His plan was to return to her once he had made a name for himself and secured his and her future. However, things didn’t work out that way. Shayla was heartbroken when he left her and she moved to begin her career. A year later she was married and still trying to get over Zack and the way he had destroyed her. After her marriage leaves her even more damaged, she sets out to build a new better Shayla. Now she’s only months away from possibly accomplishing her new dream and Zack has reentered her life. Despite his explanations, Shayla can’t seem to let the past go even while she clings to Zacks sweet kisses. I enjoyed the fighting background this book is set against. The guys in the gym really helped to push this story along. I did have some issues however. Zack had always planned to return to Shayla but he never told her before he left what his plan was. He assumed she would go to New York and wait for him although he had given her no indication to do so. He thought their love (that he had broken to smithereens) would hold her to him. Shayla did so much pushing away it drove me crazy. One minute it was “this is just professional” and the next she was clinging to him before pulling away and telling him no. A little would have been understandable but it went on for most of the book. I felt like this had a slower pace to it but I didn’t skim anything. The steam was sizzling and the outside relationship drama was nice because it took me away from all the pushing. The fighting was also well done and I especially enjoyed that this couple found strength to face their own weaknesses and fears and dealt with him appropriately. Overall, if you enjoy a hero that is jealous and possessive along with the push and pull from the heroine, you’ll enjoy this one. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
bbarneybooks28 More than 1 year ago
The MMA world that Sarah Castille creates in her Redemption series is gritty, dangerous, and violent, which is a fitting setting for the characters who reside in it because not only are they fighters in every aspect of their lives, but their pasts and perhaps even their presents dictate their successes and their struggles The background and insights into this fighter environment illustrates Castille’s desire to paint a realistic backdrop for the series and it’s those intricacies that allow readers, who may be unfamiliar with this kind of surrounding, the necessary verbiage and information that will make them feel comfortable with this unknown scene. Zack and Shayla’s story is a second chance romance with angst, heartbreak, and sexual tension. It’s clear that these two share a past - one that ended badly for both of them regardless of it being Zack’s decision to break up with Shayla. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication and Shayla’s inability to let her walls down, their reunion is not a happy one, which means that Zack has his work cut out for him if he wants Shayla back in his life in more than just a professional way. It’s clear that Zack and Shayla still have a strong hold on one another despite the ‘seven years, ten months and twenty-seven days’ that they’ve been apart, the broken people they’ve become, and Shayla’s best effort to hold Zack at arm’s length. I have to admit that it took me quite a while to warm-up to both the hero and the heroine. Zack’s jealousy and inability to verbalize necessary truths made it difficult to form a connection to him, and Shayla’s actions were beyond frustrating; her hot and cold demeanor always stalled any progress they made, and the feud between her head and her heart didn’t allow her to remain in the present or look ahead at what she and Zack could possibly have. I love MMA romances; there’s something raw about the world the characters live in and how they fight with everything that they have regardless of the obstacles in their way. I really wanted to love Zack and Shayla’s story, but it felt like they were always working against one another, which gave me a severe case of whiplash and also made some parts of the book extremely frustrating. It’s not that I completely disliked Strong Hold; I just found it sometimes impossible, at times, to understand the characters’ motives, reactions, and actions, which left me questioning just how much they truly loved one another and if they would ever find a way to work through everything because wanting to and being able to are two drastically different ideas. 3/3.5 Poison Apples
KatieSEE More than 1 year ago
I love the Redemption series and I love this book. Zack and Shayla are a great story. Love the past lovers to current story line. Great group of characters!
BookReview4you More than 1 year ago
Strong Hold by Sarah Castille is book Five in the Redemption series. This is the story of Zack Grayson and Shayla Tanner. I have read the previous book but feel this can be a standalone book. Zack and Shayla once had a relationship but Zack walked away from it. While trying to move on Shayla ended up in a very bad relationship which brought her to the next part of her life. Becoming a fighter in her personal life and moving on to be a Top amateur MMA fighter. Shayla is now called "Shilla the Killa" in the fighter world. Zack is a promoter now looking for the next MMA which leads him to Shayla. Time has changed them both and this is their time to get back what them missed if they can let their emotions go. Exciting Read!
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
Shayla is ready to put her plans on hold as a ballerina in New York to follow Zack who is her first love to San Diego so he can train to be a fighter. He leaves her broken hearted to go find his dream. She goes to New York to pursue her dream of being a ballerina. She gets married but due to an accident, she can no longer dance and the marriage ends in divorce. As she is training in a gym as a fighter herself, in San Francisco, Zack, the Slayer walks in. Fireworks, chemistry, anger and misery all combust causing fireworks so hot they may burn them both alive. A hot sexy novel of love and second chances. Two fighters who stop fighting each other. I loved this book for how Shayla fought to get her life back after abuse and loss. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review and no compensation otherwise.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
Teenage loves Zach Grayson and Shayla Tanner thought they would be together forever. Him an MMA fighter and her a famous ballerina. While they both accomplished their professional plans they didn't do it together. Zach walked away and Shayla went to NY alone. Now almost eight years later they are reunited at Redemption, a top rated MMA training facility. Can they get beyond the past to see how great their future could be? This was a very well done book with great writing, intriguing characters and a nice pace to the story. It was nice to go back to Redemption again but you can easily read this as a standalone. I highly recommend it.
rc1836 More than 1 year ago
Well written second chance at love story. Sarah Castille's Strong Hold kept my attention from the very start. Shayla's empowerment from who she had been to the strong confident MMA fighter she worked to become was inspiring. The chemistry between her and Zach was amazing and I was very happy that they got their HEA. I received an advance reader copy from Netgalley.
TerryL56 More than 1 year ago
Zach broke Shayla’s heart when she was just 18 by taking her virginity and then walking away. Shayla fled to New York to study ballet and ended up marrying her teacher, who ended up almost killing her. So she takes back her life and decides that she doesn’t need a man to protect her or be protected from and she becomes a MMA fighter. When she’s 25, Zach (who has become a 4-time world MMA champion fighter) accidentally walks back into her life. The sparks are still there between them, but can they overcome the heartbreak they gave each other? This book just broke my heart. Shayla became a strong woman but she was still broken. And I couldn’t help but love Zach because he never stopped loving Shayla, he just made a big mistake by walking away from her the first time. The only thing that I thought was kinda left in mid air was why did Shayla’s brother hate Zach so much and yet he was never around Shayla when she was at Redemption? This book will break your heart, give you a laugh, make you swoon and the sex scenes ... just hot! I received an ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
kgagnon More than 1 year ago
This second chance romance is so raw and gritty, but also fun and sexy! Zack was Shayla's first and only love. When he left her to become a successful MMA fighter, she was heartbroken and afraid. Now years later she is an aspiring MMA fighter and determined to never be vulnerable again. I loved the scene when Zack walks into Redemption, and back into her life. It was so perfect, setting up their journey back to each other. Their story is not an easy one, and was so terribly heartbreaking at times. Shayla has a horrendous path that lead her to Redemption and that she keeps secret from the protective, alpha fighters there. Zack had his reasons for walking away, believing he was doing what was best for Shayla. But now that he has found her again, he is helpless to walk away from the woman who owns his heart. I really loved Shayla, she was so strong, resilient, yet vulnerable. She is a perfect match for the deliciously protective, cocky, sexy Zack. They really challenge each other and their chemistry leaps right off the page. All the friends and fighters from Redemption added so much fun and excitement to this story as well, including the gossip train! I loved this story of love, loss, betrayal, and forgiveness.