Book Review – Holding Hans by Tara Lain

Ever After, New York #2
Publisher: Tara Lain Books
Pages: 370
Characters: Hans/Rune
POV: 3rd
Genre: Contemporary, Fairytale Retelling, Series

A Dark, Fairy Tale Retelling Romance.

How much evil can you cook up in one small town?

When your father gets wonky, marries a weird woman, and runs off to Europe, leaving you and your twin holding the bag for the bills, what else can you do but – Sleep a night in the forest,

Follow a trail of pebbles to a strange mansion,

And succumb to the attraction of cinnamon rolls, the world’s most beautiful piano, and Madame, the strange woman who gives you your dreams for next to nothing.

But fairy tales teach one lesson – –when things are too good to be true – run!

Hans Meyer finds that out the hard way, when he wakes up tied to a bed in the dark. Even Rune, the cute guy who buys him root beer floats, isn’t who he seems.

Can piano power, twin power, and a healthy dose of love power overcome the darkness and finally make Hans happy in Ever After?

HOLDING HANS is a coming-of-age, hidden identity, dysfunctional family, fairy-tale-retelling, contemporary fantasy romance – with really good food

Buy Link


I loved this story and got pulled into it immediately. I thought the set up was very clever, and I enjoyed the modern retelling with a few twists of Hansel and Gretel. I loved how the character names hint at each person’s personality and role in the story.

I’m a sucker for anything music related, so I particularly loved that Hans is a pianist and all the musical references. I also like stories which feature twins and I loved Hans’ relationship with Greta—it felt very realistic.

Hans grows a lot through the story, from someone who only lives for his music, to a more confident man who falls in love and is prepared to fight for it. I liked his and Rune’s relationship. It was very sweet, and I liked how they grew a friendship into love. I suspected straight off that Rune wasn’t who he seemed, but I thought the red herrings were very nicely placed, and while I did guess who he really was before the reveal that only added to my enjoyment of the story. I love how he’s so protective of Hans and ready to put himself in danger to do so.

Greta totally rocks, and I loved how she is instrumental in saving everyone. Perfect for her character!

Lady Cournoir is creepy, and her guests come across as the not nice people they are. I thought the theme behind the fairytale came across very well, with the original gingerbread house, and a hunger that isn’t just physical. When something feels too good to be true, it usually is!

I thought the action/drama scenes were well written, especially the one after Hans wakes up tied to the bed! Very edge-of-your seat stuff with some very ingenious ideas. The author is great at tension, and making sure the characters have to work for their HEA, which was perfect.

Hans’ and Greta’s new stepmother is very aptly named and I wasn’t surprised when the truth about her was revealed towards the end of the book. Mrs Delphi is an interesting character, especially as I’m presuming her name is a nod to the Oracle of Delphi. I also loved the references to other characters and books in the series. I’m reading this series out of order, yet it stands alone very well, although leaves me wanting to read book 1. I’ll be looking out for more in the series as they come out, and hope we haven’t seen the last of Ever After, New York.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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2 Responses to Book Review – Holding Hans by Tara Lain

  1. Tara Lain says:

    Thank you so much for reading HOLDING HANS. I’m honored! : )


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