Allison Shire used to be a scholar specialized in the works of Tolkien, but after a personal crisis, she is now grudgingly guiding Tolkien enthusiasts through her homeland New Zealand. In her latest tour group is the strange couple of a rich elderly man and his nephew Jackson Gregory, whom Allison immediately recognizes as a fake fan. What is he doing on this expensive luxury tour?
As the group travels through New Zealand, Allison and Jackson keep getting thrown together and as they get to know each other better, slowly fall in love. Neither had expected they would fall in love again and regrets and pain from both their pasts have to be conquered before they can think about a life together.
Sigh... I more and more despair about finding a contemporary Christian romance which I can really enjoy (like 5/5 enjoy). Close to you came highly recommended by blogger friends and it was definitely an okay read, but I want more than okay!
Alright, the strong point of this novel is definitely the unusual setting (this novel will make you want to go to New Zealand!) and the Tolkien connection. It's fun hearing about all the settings related to well-known scenes in the LOTR trilogy and reading about characters discussing the meaning of Tolkien's work.
Allison and Jackson were okay together (there's that word again), but they didn't really sparkle IMHO. I just didn't get enough insight into why they fell for each other (apart from the physical aspect). There were a few good moments of connection, but more than that there were moments of romcom-cliché, which I can't really appreciate (heroine being stuck in mud and having to be rescued by hero, hero and heroine being set up on a dinner date together). Maybe I'm asking too much, but I want conversations that showcase genuine connection and understanding between the hero and heroine.
Then, I felt there were big things in both Jackson and Allison's background that weren't explored enough for me, but felt like just being 'used' as stumbling blocks before their inevitable falling in love. Especially Allison's situation was really quite complex and I felt it was resolved way too quickly and conveniently at the end of the book (like it just needed to be shoved aside before the resolution).
I feel sad I -again- have to write a dissaproving review about a book that some of my readers have been very enthusiastic about. I guess tastes differ?
I received an ebook version of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.