Release Date: 5/19/15
Penelope Landlow has grown up in the lap of luxury thanks to her family being one of three crime syndicates who deal in illegal organ transplants. While Penelope has always been protected, no one can stop the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise at the slightest touch. Penny yearns for the freedom of a normal life, where she can live out her senior year in high school with other teens, before heading off to college. Unfortunately she soon gets more than she bargained for when she gets caught between feuding families, and winds up having to go on the run. But even with her world turned upside down, and not knowing who to trust, Penny soon realizes that she’s not such a delicate flower, and while she’s been betrayed it’s sometimes worth taking the risk of opening up your heart again.
Arrggh! There were so many things I loved about this book, but then there were other things that just drove me crazy. I guess I’ll start with the positive. There’s the premise, which immediately had me excited as it’s based on The Princess and the Pea. Then Tiffany Schmidt brilliantly mixes this with crime families and black market organ transplants. By focusing on Penny, you see more of the “princess” side of the the story. As you know, the fairytale puts forth that a true princess would be bruised by a tiny pea under a hundred mattresses. In this story, Penny is treated like a princess because she suffers from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpora, which is an autoimmune disease that causes extremely easy bruising. This not only imaginatively connects to the fairytale, but it also raises awareness about an autoimmune disease of which little is heard about. You can tell that the author has really done her research and she gives a lot of information without turning it into a medical textbook. Penny starts as rather sheltered and pampered, but you can tell she’s got a backbone, even when she makes some truly childish decisions. While she appreciates the love and care that has always been given her, she feels rather like a bird in a guilded cage. She’s not allowed to leave the family compound because of the potential danger she could face in the outside world. She’s also kept largely in the dark as to the family business. She knows the logistical aspects, but there’s much more that she’s kept in the dark about. She loves her family, especially her older brother who she shares an especially close relationship with, but even he keeps secrets from her. When things go south, Penny, who has grown up in the lap of luxury, shows that she is so much stronger than anyone including herself thought.
And here’s what I had problems with. First, there’s the crime part of the novel. The book was told from Penny’s perspective, and because she knows so little regarding her family’s dealings, I was left feeling somewhat confused about the inner workings and the politics behind the black market organ transplants. I found myself wishing that Schmidt had gone into more detail, especially as there’s a pretty high body count due to their activities. What’s worse though is the romance. In the first part of the book, Penny is madly in love with her brother’s best friend and guardian Garret. So much so, that at one point they’re planning on running away together. Then, when tragedy strikes and she’s on her own, she quickly goes from obsessing over Garret, to suddenly falling head over heels for Char who she literally bumps into. This happened so quickly I almost got whiplash. It not only didn’t make any sense, but it was also unrealistic. Except for that, I really loved the way Penny’s character developed and matured over the course of the story.
Overall, I think Hold Me Like A Breath is a worthwhile read because of the unique fairytale aspects and likeable main character. Despite its flaws, the series has potential, and I’m interested in seeing what Schmidt does in the next book.