"To Have and To Hold" by Trae Stratton

To Have and to Hold

 April 23, 1994. The date is set. Colin MacLann is getting married. Growing up in the suburbs of New York City at a time when kids could still be kids and sometimes were for too long, Colin looked like he had it all: he was smart, athletic, had a voice for rock 'n' roll, and lots of luck. There were girlfriends too, five of them: Cindy, Haley, Cara, Monique and Tessa. Each of them burst into his life at different times to inspire him in their own unique way, and more often than not, broke his heart too. Still, fate has chosen one of them to be his soul mate. Will Colin grow up in time to earn a place at the altar beside her? Or must destiny deliver someone else? In To Have and To Hold, Trae Stratton takes the reader on a rare journey. By writing almost exclusively from the point of view of the groom and his family, a simple love story turns into an endearing family saga anchored to Colin's relationships. Through the deft use of flashbacks, the reader grows up with Colin just before the digital age in a time and place when your neighborhood could still be your whole world. As the hour of his wedding draws near, the witty dialogue keeps the plot moving at a crisp pace, while slyly preserving the identity of the bride until the final chapter. Whether you enjoy mysteries, happy endings or both, the MacLann family will work their way into your heart for a long time to come.


In 'To Have and To Hold," Trae Stratton introduces readers to the MacLann family. It is ultimately a love story, centered on Colin MacLann's wedding day, but it is also about growing up in a New York City suburb before the digital era. Colin, considered the lucky one, appears to have everything going for him, but he has a lot of growing up to do and some serious self discoveries to make before that fateful event the story is working its way towards. Flash backs and memories are contributed from most of the participants of the big day, building a foundation, letting you get to know all the characters, and leading up to the happy moment when the bride walks down the aisle. Colin has several girlfriends along the way moving in and out of his life at different times for different reasons. Who will be under the veil? 

I was engrossed with 'To Have and To Hold.' Trae Stratton did a wonderful job with this family saga. The author brilliantly used small sections from different characters' viewpoints which helped me connect with all of the MacLanns. I loved the entire family. Significant moments of their pasts were brought to life in such an honest and compelling way that it caused me to respect, sympathize, admire, and just plain adore so many of them. The story flowed effortlessly, consistently leading me where I needed to be . There were so many well developed, real characters and I was so involved with their tales that I didn't want to put the book down. Profound emotions moved me to tears as I approached its conclusion. By the time I finished it, I felt as though I could have been part of their story, right there in that church to finally witness the wedding. 

Originally reviewed for Readers' Favorite