Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Review: Close to You

"You helped me understand that God doesn't want me to live a life that's defined by my mistakes." - Allison Shire

Happy release day to Kara Isaac!  This awesome book hits shelves today!!

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?

About the Author:
Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two children.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Ms. Isaac.  But, if you pop over to her website , you can see what a lovely lady she is (and read about her next book, which I totally fangirl about at the bottom of this post).

My Review: 5 stars

I’m always excited to read a new author and was completely stoked for this one! I had no idea what to expect with this story, which I found to be part of the fun of it. I’m not a Tolkien fan at all (I probably couldn’t have even spelled his name correctly before reading this book) - I’ve never read the books, seen the movies, nothing. So I was a little concerned that this whole book would fly right over my head, that I wouldn’t get it at all . . . . But I couldn’t have been more wrong! This book was so excellent and I just loved it!

Kara Isaac does such a fantastic job with this book! I just adored her writing - particularly the dialogue! It was so quirky and sarcastic, with Allie and Jackson starting out with a hate-hate relationship. I found myself laughing out loud more than once and having those “I know you don’t really care, but I have to tell you about my book!” moments. I also loved the setting! I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book set in New Zealand, so that part was really awesome. It sounds like such an amazing place that I would truly love to visit, Tolkien fan or no. I loved all of the colorful descriptions that brought every area to vivid life within my imagination. I also really appreciated the fact that she made Jackson a non-fan because then she was able to include details and explain things for those of us who are clueless. The story was a lot of fun, while also dealing with some more difficult topics. I found myself split between almost crying with a character one moment, then busting out laughing the next because something caught my fancy.

The characters were also fantastic! I already mentioned the start of Allie and Jackson’s relationship was just a mite rocky, which I actually really enjoyed. Their sparring was a lot of fun and I liked getting to see their relationship progress as they slowly learned the other wasn’t the annoying/crazy/pain-in-the-backside that they’d originally pegged them as being. They both start out with trust issues and have a good bit to work through, but the journey is so worth it. And the romantic tension between them was spot on! Their “almost” kisses had me fanning my cheeks, let alone the “real” ones! I also really appreciated that it didn’t move too fast, since they’d only known each other a short amount of it.

The spiritual side of the story was a little different from a lot of the books I typically read. Generally, one of them is a Christian and the other then becomes one. But with this story, they both know about God, but have allowed hurts or doubts to push them away. Allie has been given the impression most of her life that she isn’t enough and she doesn’t understand how God could ever want her. Jackson was raised in church, but found money and living in the “fast lane” was more appealing than following God. I really loved how Kara wove God throughout the story and used the other characters to give them advice and guidance. I also found Allie’s fears and questions to be so relatable and I very much appreciated how they were addressed. It never seemed out of place or overwhelming to the story, and they was no great conversion. But it rather slowly flowed throughout and came to a very realistic conclusion.

One last comment: the end was so great! A seriously sigh-worthy ending! I turned the last page with a smile on my face, despite dreading the fact that the book was over. I’m so excited to read Kara’s next book and will most likely be purchasing a paper copy of this one to place on my “keeper” shelf!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with unique characters, fun dialogue, and a beautiful setting!

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for stopping by, again!  This is another of those books that I will most likely be buying myself a paper copy of to place on my keeper shelf (or in my case, the "keeper tote").  I just enjoyed it so much!  Anyway, links are below if you want to check it out further.

On a slightly more random note:
Kara already has the cover available for her next book, Can't Help Falling, which releases in October this year.  And it is so gorgeous!  So you know I'm not making this up, and so you can drool with me, here's the cover: (drums on the table)


See??  Isn't it just fabulous! (totally a rhetorical question)  I canNOT wait to snatch this one up!    

Okay, enough drooling now - links are now below this!  :)


Barnes & Noble

Christian Book

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