Bent on revenge and uncaring if he lives or dies, Creed begins to learn that home is more than a place. It’s what you protect.
Keeping Creed by Shaun Holt is a quirky military romance novel centering around Samuel Creed and Tessa Holt, whose teenage years were moulded by tragedy. Finding their way to each other gives Tessa the prince she never knew she wanted, and Creed the reason he needs to always return home.
When the events of 9/11 rob Creed of his older brother and Tessa of her much-loved uncle, their worlds are shattered into a world of grief. Tessa turns to literature and escape, while Creed turns to the military and revenge. A whirlwind of basic training and three tours in Afghanistan later finds Creed jaded and Tessa working at a library in Washington D.C., where the two meet through Creed’s niece, Rose.
Their romance lights like a match. But Creed’s newest job working at a counter-terrorism agency won’t let him forget the innocent lives yet being lost to the minds and actions of terrible men. When his work and love life collide, Creed has to make a choice: revenge for the brother he loved, or the new life he’s built?
There are two main points of view in the novel, Creed and Tessa. They were both well done, but I especially enjoyed the Jane Austen quotes in the beginning of Tessa’s chapters as they related to the subject of each chapter. It reflected her love for literature and added a deeper connection to the character.
The prose is sharp, detailed. Many times I was surprised at how in-depth and precise the descriptions were, making the reader really feel like they were in the presence of the characters standing in that room or in that place. The dialogue is witty and natural, especially the commentary between Creed and Rose. I really enjoyed their interactions throughout the novel, they felt the most genuine and often heartwarming.
There are several points in the novel where the prose breaks the fourth wall- that is, interacts with the reader in some way. I thought this was an interesting take, and brought forward the idea that this novel was meant to be fun and light despite some of it’s heavy leanings when it comes to revenge and war.
Lastly, while the interaction with Sawyer’s spirit caught me off guard at first, I enjoyed those scenes and thought they added a lot to the story. It again pushed forward that this novel was meant to be taken with a sense of lightness, even with it’s heavy subjects. His interactions with the world as a spirit were sometimes comedic, other times beautiful, and the novel wouldn’t have been the same without them.
Should You Read It:
First things first, if you’re concerned about triggers, check the Trigger Warnings section at the bottom of the article to see if there are any that may prevent you from enjoying this book
The military romance genre is a niche market, but Keeping Creed would appeal to a wider range of audiences than would be expected. It felt like it could be categorized in either romance or general fiction without issue, as while the romance was key, it was not the sole focus of the story. A lot of attention is spent on how Creed is meant to come to terms with and work through the loss of his brother through his military career.
This book is a hard one to explain in that it’s light, but heavy. Entertaining, but wise. With the exception of early on during the 9/11 attacks, there were few areas that felt heavy on my soul despite some darker subjects, and I can’t quite understand how Holt managed to do it. Because of this, I would caution to be prepared with some tissues at the beginning, but after that it’s a beautiful, funny, whimsical, snarky, wild ride that I’m glad to have been on.
I rated Keeping Creed as spark level Torch; a deep read that’s light at heart, this military romance reminded me that we carry home with us in the memories and dreams of the ones we love.
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of rape and torture; Explicit violence and sexuality; Depictions of racism and islamophobia