Hold Me Under (Water, Air, Earth and Fire Book 1) by Riley Nash #LGBT #MMRomance #Audiobook #Review

Erryn reviews Hold Me Under (Water, Air, Earth and Fire Book 1) by Riley Nash.  Ebook released March 14, 2022, 350 pages. The audiobook was released January 3, 2023. Narrated by J.F. Harding and Stephen Dexter, the audio is 9 hrs and 34 mins in length.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Love is cheap. Love is cruel. Love can’t save us.

Victor Lang had everything—looks, money, fame. A chance to become the greatest swimmer in history. Until a failed dope test brought him crashing down.

According to the rumors, he turned into a recluse, a drug addict, a whore. Broken beyond repair. Incapable of love.

And for some reason, he’s set his sights on me.

A freak accident in his pool throws me into a world of wealth and status and people who are willing to do anything to get what they want. Before I know it, I’m being paid to fly to Italy and pose as his boyfriend. Trapped at his side, I learn what it means to truly hate someone.

Turns out, that’s exactly what he wants.

I can’t save him, and I can’t love him. But as things fall apart and I discover the truths he’s hiding, I learn that hate can be greater than love—an obsession, a prayer, dark days and darker nights, a need to be the only one who hurts him. Hate can heal the worst wounds love leaves behind.

But I have problems of my own, a broken spirit and loved ones to protect. And I’m scared to face the things he’s waking up inside of me.

A gritty, emotional, epic hate-to-love slow burn with an inexperienced top and his bratty bottom, hurt/comfort, obsession, and healing.

Contains dark themes, adult content, and potential triggers, though every effort was made to portray them thoughtfully and sensitively.

Specific triggers (potential spoilers): sexual abuse (off the page), suicidal ideation, drug abuse, disordered eating, trauma, death, mental illness, homophobic language

Buy links: Audible | Amazon | Add to Goodreads

My review: 

This is a dark book.  I LIKE dark books. This was my first Riley Nash and I have to say I leapt on the second book in the series, and have the third on my radar screen.

Victor had it all.  A spot on the USA swim team heading to the Rio Olympics, several records under his belt, and a good chance to bring home the gold.

His fall from grace was ignominious at best.  After testing positive for a banned substance, he slunk away to a mansion daddy bought him to live in a haze of hookups and increasingly despondent days.

Until the gardener, Ethan, falls into the pool.

Victor rescues the poor man, but, in the end, maybe it’s Ethan who will wind up saving him.

A confluence of events finds Victor and Ethan in Europe, pretending to be boyfriends.  But what happens when fake becomes real?  Is Victor up to the challenge of being partner for a man who has so many responsibilities?  Or is he just going to be the jerk everyone expects him to be?

This book covers some dark themes, listed in the synopsis.  I was intrigued enough to keep listening, then riveted – at first by the performances and, eventually, by the story.  I wanted to see if Ethan and Victor could find their happily ever after.

Stephen Dexter is a good narrator and I enjoyed his performance.  JF Harding is a stellar narrator and he did a great job too.  This book might be dark, but it’s totally worth going to the dark place in order to get to the light.

My rating:

10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars

Website | Goodreads

Riley Nash, based in the rainy PNW, writes M/M romances about boys who fall hard, face the darkness, and never give up on each other.

Fueled by cute dogs, those weird Coke With Coffee drinks, and projecting my personal issues onto handsome men and making them fall in love.

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