how not to let go is the sequel to how not to fall of the bellhaven duology. i know that duologies are a thing in new adult romance, but i'm not a fan. i feel like the story being told here could have been compressed into one book. there was a lot that was repetitive and mostly the entire plot revolved around charles getting his shit together psychologically in order to accept that 1) he was totally head over heels for annie and 2) to deal with his dysfunctional family crap.
the author, emily foster, is wicked smart and has a doctoral degree in health behavoir and human sexuality with a master's degree in counseling and this is very evident in the story. in several chapters we get these extended psychological metaphors for what is going on in charles' head and i just wish they hadn't felt like filler. part of me feels like it's unnecessary to illustrate the character's psyche to this level of detail. it was already obvious what charles' hang-ups are and what he needed to come to terms with in order to be in a good place to sustain a meaningful relationship.
i also felt that given the cliffhanger ending of the first book, the characters should have actually spent more time apart than they actually do in how not to let go. basically they are back together by the third chapter, even if not officially. but for all intents and purposes there is no one else in the picture and annie is clearly willing to wait for charles to get his head on straight. in a sense this is the problem with how not to let go. the initial conflict is solved so quickly that even though charles' psychological state is important and his being able to accept a relationship with annie is key, it all feels like a given. so it just felt like the stakes weren't high enough, and even the obstacles, some of which felt entirely manufactured didn't feel like real problems. they were just silly excuses to keep the characters apart.
this is not to say that how not to let go isn't enjoyable, because it is. and i like charles and annie. it was nice to see their universe expand to include more of their families. getting the background on their family life fills in so much about who they are and why they are built the way they are. and given the author's goal of writing sex-positive romance, i feel like she accomplishes this quite nicely.
**how not to let go will publish on december 27, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books in exchange for my honest review.