Thursday, October 18, 2012
Regular readers of Books. Lists. Life. know that I am always willing to read a good romance novel. I have an affinity for small town series (Nora Robert's MacCade brothers, Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series, Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series) and it seemed likely that Close Enough to Touch , which is set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, would be the beginning of another such series. I requested a copy through Net Galley after seeing a few positive reviews floating around.
Grace has fled her job as a makeup artist in Hollywood after being fired, cheated on, and mistaken for a thief. She stops to spend a few weeks in her aunt's apartment building in Jackson, Wyoming on her way to Vancouver for a fresh start. Cole Rawlins is an injured cowboy. He spent the past 13 years saving money to buy a ranch, and then got injured and his future is up in the air. Both Cole and Grace have a lot of negative history with Hollywood, and the appearance of a film shoot in Jackson Hole brings it to the surface for them both.
Grace is very damaged. She doesn't trust herself and she doesn't trust anyone else. She's sure that no one will love her, so she pushes everyone away so that she doesn't get hurt by their rejection. (SPOILER: Of course people like her!) Grace had a really bad childhood and a example of what not to do for a mother, but sometimes I felt that she went too far in not giving other people a chance, the very extreme end of jumping to conclusions. It was really hard to like her at times and ultimately I didn't feel like she ever came around to a point where she could trust anyone enough to fall in love. It seemed like a very fast extreme switch, and I didn't quite buy it.
Cole isn't damaged so much as willfully blind. He's physically injured and it's not certain if he'll be able to ride again. It's hard to be a cowboy who can't ride a horse. This is weighing heavy on him, and I felt like this aspect was handled really well. However, 13 years in his past he was briefly lured to Hollywood by (surprise!) the same director who is on his ranch now. He is unable to leave the past in the past and see what really happened, and it's really hard for me to see this as anything more than a cheesy excuse. I did like Cole more than Grace, but he was awfully perfect aside from his reliance on the past as an excuse.
In the end, while the book was enjoyable, I didn't think it went quite far enough as a romance. There wasn't really any sort of falling in love. There was a lot of lust and sex (holy graphic sex, batman! Probably the most explicit sex I've ever read in a straight romance) but I just didn't see enough tenderness and companionship to believe that they had fallen in love. At the end of the book everything is wrapped up in a tidy bow, and neatly sets up a handful of possible next-in-series contenders. I won't lie and say I won't give the next one a chance, but this one won't make any top ten lists for the year.