‘CLOSE TO YOU’: An Intelligent Contemporary Romance Set in New Zealand


‘CLOSE TO YOU’: An Intelligent Contemporary Romance Set in New Zealand. Review of the 2016 novel by Kara Isaac. All text © Rissi JC

STORY: 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.

BOOK REVIEW | ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ is a Funny Festive Time

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?

Close to you, by Kara Isaac | Book Review

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.

…you undo me. When I’m around you, I forget about everything else. And it scares me more than anything ever has.” – Kara Isaac 

‘CLOSE TO YOU’: An Intelligent Contemporary Romance Set in New Zealand #Bookarchives Click To Tweet

Going into Close to You with little knowledge turns out to be a good thing. 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. 

Close to You 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. ♥


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

Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on RissiWrites.com

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. 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. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

Optimized by Optimole