Contemporary Fiction, Review

Close to You by Kara Isaac

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.

Close to You by Kara IsaacAllison 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?

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My Thoughts

I love this story! It just doesn’t get much better than books about people who love books but people who love books so much they spend obscene amounts of money on a three-week luxury vacation centered around their favorite books? If this is real, will someone please sponsor me? I am all over this whole book-cation idea!

Allison Shire is a brilliant book nerd (doctorate level, serious stuff). Unfortunately, she’s stuck in legal and emotional limbo thanks to her con-artist husband. (I really do not like that man.) So instead of inspiring young minds in the lecture halls of a prestigious university, Allie is tour guide/babysitter to the rich and Tolkien-crazed… often in costume. There’s also the matter of her strained relationships with her family, oy! (I’m not a fan of her mother, either.) Allison might be running from her problems, but I don’t blame her a bit!

“The pathetic state of Allison Shire’s existence was perfectly summed up by the size-twelve prosthetic feet mocking her from the floor of the Mercedes minibus. Their hairy tops taunted her in ways she didn’t even have words to express. Nasty wretched fake hobbit feet.” (pg. 1)

Jackson Gregory is trying to get his life back in order after the catastrophe that was his backstabbing girlfriend. (I didn’t even meet her and I don’t like her.) He hopes to convince his great-uncle to invest in his next business venture by feigning an interest in The Lord of the Rings and accompanying him on his New Zealand vacation. Not the most honest way to go about it but Jackson is desperate to save his family’s farm and repay his investors. The stress of his financial woes and hours spent pouring over all things Tolkien puts him in a grumpy funk. Jackson and Allison clash and grate on one another’s nerves from the start but the more time they spend together, the harder it is to maintain their hate-hate relationship.

Confession time: I have not read The Lord of the Rings, I haven’t even watched the movies. Would some Tolkien knowledge make this book even more enjoyable? Probably. Did my lack of familiarity with J.R.R.’s work impact my enjoyment of this story? Definitely not! Close to You is fabulous! Plus, Jackson doesn’t know squat about Tolkien either so the more, the merrier! I love the abundance of quirky characters, virtually traveling all over New Zealand, and learning a bit about J.R.R. Tolkien along the way!

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by the author and the lovely ladies at Seekerville. My thanks to the publisher, author, and bloggers! The opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she’s not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand.

Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, released April 2016. Her sophomore novel, Can’t Help Falling, just released in October 2016 and is an RT Reviews Top Pick. She loves to connect with readers.

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Also by Kara Isaac

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6 thoughts on “Close to You by Kara Isaac”

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