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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kara Isaac: Close to You

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

My Thoughts:

I am a huge Tolkien fan, so I couldn’t wait to read a story that took place in New Zealand where all six films where created. But that was not the case with Kara Issac's story.

One of my favorite parts of Isaac’s writing is the dialogue. Isaac does a good job at creating voices for the characters that actually match what the characters would do. Her dialogue shines on the pages of the novel.

The characters had me cringing mostly throughout the whole book. From the first moment Allie meets Jack, she’s determined that he is a fake and hates him without truly getting to know him. She keeps doing these mean things to him. Not things that hurt him physically, but she makes him dress up, knowing that he isn’t going to like it. Jack, on the other hand, fools his uncle and everyone else into believing he is a huge Tolkien fan to try to earn the money to save his parent’s farm. Yes, his motives were pure, but it was still kind of sticky to lie.

Allie and Jack’s relationship reminds me of a teenager learning how to cope with their raging emotions. It goes from hate, anger, childlessness, like, anger, love, hate, and back to love. The relationship is totally predictable, which is normal in a contemporary romance. Their relationship drove me nuts and made me skim through a number of pages.

The item from the synopsis that grabbed my attention was Tolkien. Yes, the story does feature a lot of Tolkien head knowledge and trivia, but the tour, which is the main part of the story, is not really described in the setting. I felt like I was never there traveling to all these places where the Lord of the Ring films were recorded.  The setting has many repetitive scenes filled with a slow moving plot.

For me, Kara Isaac’s debut novel, Close to You is a slow moving, predictable romance with a whiny teenage romance, but the dialogue is top notch for the contemporary romance.

I received a complimentary copy of Close to You from Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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