By: Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher: PMI Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 2013
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go on a reality show? Would you participate if offered the chance? Would you expose your innermost secrets on national television? In Laurel Osterkampís quick-reading new book, The Holdout, thatís just what Robin Bricker must decide as sheís given a chance to compete for one million dollars.
Told in the first person by Robin, the story picks up quickly. We immediately learn that Robin has returned home after competing on "The Holdout," a "Survivor" type reality show. Now home, she's dreading the fact that the last three episodes have yet to air, and she admits that "...my most humiliating moments are yet to come." Her contract states that she can't change her appearance while the show airs, so maybe she should just stay in her house until the next season starts. The reader's interest is piqued - what humiliating things happen to Robin? Can't stop reading now!
Our protagonist next introduces the reader to her family and it quickly becomes obvious that they don't all have faith in Robin, or in her ability to win the million dollars. Indeed, some of them laugh at the thought of Robin being good at sports and survival skills, two important things needed to win the show. A great support team they're not. It's no wonder Robin doubts herself, her employment skills and her ability to pick men.
Now it's on to the really fun part of the story - Robin's time competing on "The Holdout." We meet the other contestants, including the dorky Henry, the sultry Klemi, and the very handsome Grant. Before the contestants have even arrived at the island, Grant is making eyes at Robin and she's soon pretty happy about his interest. Unfortunately, Grant's only goal is to win the million dollars and he'll do anything to get the prize, including taking advantage of Robin. While the reader, and the national audience watching the show, can see that Grant is two-timing Robin, she's far too slow to pick up on the betrayal.
The majority of the book switches between the telling of the competition, and Robin's time at home while the show airs. She is called for Jury Duty and is hopeful that she can hide her true identity to the other jurists, since the final episodes will air during the trial. As she listens to the case, and gets to know some of the other people on the jury panel, Robin starts to grow, to mature, to find herself and maybe, just maybe, allow another man into her life.
While I'm not a fan of reality shows, I truly enjoyed author Laurel Osterkamp's version of a survival show. The scheming, backstabbing, and yes, skill required to win had me glued to the page. Like the imaginary national audience, I picked my favorite and kept my fingers crossed that that person would win. The jury scenes started out a bit slower, but as the case neared conclusion, and Robin and a fellow juror "got closer," the courtroom scenes were just as enjoyable. The Holdout is a definite gotta read book that fans of romance, fans of reality shows, and yes, even those who switch the channel when that tribal music comes on, should pick up a copy and start reading. You won't be disappointed!
Quill says: Grant is a royal scumbag who you love to hate, Robin is believable and likeable, the story moves quickly, the romance is spicy without being too outlandish, what's not to like? The Holdout is well worth your time.