Close to You by Kara Isaac – An Intelligent Contemporary Romance Set in New Zealand

Thursday, December 1, 2016

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Author: Kara Isaac
Publisher: @Howard_Books
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Blogger | Goodreads | Wordpress
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary 
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Nothing has gone quite as she always imagined it might. 

Allison Shire is living a life she never expected. Instead of using her prestigious education as a scholar, she is instead squiring around clients as a Tolkien tour guide. Her life fell apart following a disastrous relationship, and the ensuing fallout with her family.

Jackson Gregory has his own troubles. One of which being the fact that he emphatically does not want to be a part of this Tolkien tour. But in order to realize his aspirations in the business world, taking the tour to appease the one man whose opinion matters is a must.

Two hearts, two different stories. Will Allison and Jackson find a way to overcome these obstacles – and what happens when feelings of a different kind spark between them? undo me. When I'm around you, I forget about everything else. And it scares me more than anything ever has.” - Kara Isaac 
As this is one of those books that has been on my shelf for an embarrassingly lengthy timeframe, my expectation of it was neutral by the time I read it. Lest this come across as something I don’t mean to imply, let me further expand on what I mean by this. When a novel releases, there is always a certain anticipatory attachment to it. Most of the time I try to stay away from the fray and not read others reviews (unless I’ve already reviewed the book) so as to remain impartial while I read and review the book. With this novel, because so much time elapsed, I had distanced myself from those reviews.

I knew many of my friends loved this book, but the basic facts were all I knew.

Fortunately for me, this was a grand thing going into this novel. The story is an elegant canvas of copasetic and conflicting emotions. Before I delve into more about this, I will say one thing as a drawback. And coining it as a “drawback” isn’t even fair since this is more a personal preference than flaw. The fact that the entire book is centered on The Lord of the Rings is lost on me. I know Tolkien is considered one of the literature greats, but his books is not a part of my comfort zone. That said, in the overall picture of the story, this didn’t damper my affection for these characters.

Allison is a wounded, complex being who I enjoyed getting to know. She kept a lot inside her, and doesn’t play well with people trying to force their agenda on her. For a period of time, this is Jackson. Jackson forces her to drop her guard, and in turn she gets under his skin. No easy feat considering he too has buried emotional scars. Together, they’re a perfect foil to each other’s pain, sorrow and long-buried pasts.

Though the characters are endearing like none other (the romance, and the “fighting” look beyond mere “swoons”), perhaps what I appreciated most about this book is its intellect. This is about the relationships, and a romance, yes, but it’s also so much more than this. Close to You digs deeper than the normal additives. It’s about reconciling with your past. It’s about surrendering to the point of being vulnerable, and it’s about the lessons we learn from these emotions. 

This is a whimsical delight of an adventure. The setting (hooray for a non-US-small-town setting!) is exciting, and the concept unique. In a word, Isaac’s debut is breathtaking. ♥

Synopsis: 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? - Goodreads

Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon),


  1. Great review! This is one I still need to read as well, and your review is making me look forward to it!

    1. Hope you enjoy this one, Heidi. I thought it was fabulous. :)

  2. Thanks so much for the review, Rissi. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! :)

    1. I very much enjoyed this one, Kara. Thank you for writing this lovely story. :)

  3. I'm so happy you liked it! That's always the fear, you know? That fellow reader friends won't end up loving a book as much as you. (Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, for the record! One just wants everyone else to love a story as much as they. :) I, too, loved the intelligence that shone through the "typical romance". And also, Can't Help Falling just builds on that even better!

    1. I SO know this feeling, Kara. After I've GUSHED about something and someone tells me they're reading/seeing something after reading my review, I'm all like - *bites nails* "HOPE YOU LIKE IT!" ;)

      I agree. There's isn't. And if I don't care for something that everyone else does, that doesn't make me enjoy reading the person's reviews or chatting with them any less. (Thank goodness we don't all like the same things!)

      AHHH! I cannot wait to read Can't Help Falling. Hopefully this winter. :)


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