Close to You / by Kara Isaac. 10.13.2016

Howard Books ISBN 9781501117329

Adult Rating: 5

Kara Isaac makes her debut with this contemporary romance featuring a disgraced scholar and an entrepreneur on a tour of New Zealand.

In Close to You, Allison Shire is running from her past when she meets Jackson Gregory on a tour of Tolkien movie sites in New Zealand. Allison decides she is done with love–she recently discovered her husband was married to someone else while she was married to him! Meanwhile, Jackson’s girlfriend stole his company secrets and jilted him. Accompanying his great-uncle on the three-week Tolkien tour, he pretends to be a Tolkien fan, trying to convince his great-uncle to invest in his next scheme. Drawn to each other despite their initial dislike of one another, can they get past their past hurts and find true love?

Isaac pens a humorous Christian romance with endearing characters. One reads so many books with Austen themes that it is refreshing to find an author who uses another great English writer–J. R. R. Tolkien. Even if one is not a Lord of the Rings fan, the descriptive narration, the beautiful setting in New Zealand, and the plausible plot make this novel an enjoyable read.

The themes of second chances (hope and love) underpin the story. The premise of two flawed main characters who are trying to move on after betrayals is noteworthy. Isaac weaves in enough backstory for non-Tolkien fans to follow as they go on the tour with Jackson and Allison. The faith element is light but present. Overall, Close to You is an excellent novel by a promising new author. Her second novel Can’t Help Falling is due in Fall 2016.

Recommended for adult collections in public libraries and school libraries, it is a clean read for adults and older teen readers, as well as for Tolkien fans.

Carol R. Gehringer,