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Friday, September 28, 2012

Book Review: Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl

Book cover of Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl
Those of you who've followed me for a while know that I spend a lot of time in Jackson Hole, and that I love it nearly as much as I love my Second City (my favorite JH books).  So when I found out that  Victoria Dahl, one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, planned a new trilogy set in the valley, I nearly expired from happiness.  Sexy, rugged cowboys/girls getting it on in the sexy, rugged Wyoming wilderness?  Oh, yes, please.

I wanted so badly to love Close Enough to Touch, the first in Dahl's Jackson Hole series.  I held on to my advanced copy for months and waited until I got to Jackson before I allowed myself to read it.  Unhappily, even reading the book in Jackson Hole couldn't make up for what the book was missing.  Though it has great primary and secondary characters, and some scorching sex scenes, the lackluster romance between the hero and heroine made the book fall flat overall.  

Summary: For makeup artist Grace Barrett, Hollywood isn't the land of golden opportunity. It's the land of difficult divas, cheating boyfriends and unemployment. So when her great-aunt offers her a free place to stay in Jackson Hole, Grace thinks she'll spend a little time in the sticks to figure out her life, and then move somewhere exciting to live out her dreams. But it turns out that there are a few more thrills in this small town than Grace was expecting…. Cole Rawlins is a rugged Wyoming cowboy born and bred. Yet he can't help but be drawn to the fascinating big-city girl who moves in across from him. He wants to get close enough to Grace to see past her tough facade, but if he does, she might see the real Cole. The one with a Hollywood history gone bad. As they discover a sizzling attraction, it becomes harder for him to keep his demons at bay—and those fires from long ago may burn them both.

They'll need more than scorching-hot passion to make this opposites-attract affair work. But if they can learn to trust one another enough to reveal their secrets, they just might have a chance at forever. — Goodreads

My thoughts:  The sex scenes in Close Enough to Touch were super hot (oh, were they ever!) and both Grace and Cole were well-drawn, appealing characters.  Victoria Dahl's sharp humor and clever dialogue was also present:
"Really?" Cole asked, forcing his shoulders to relax as he leaned against the bar. "A your-mama joke, huh?"
Shane tipped his beer. "I know how to bring it."
"That's not what my mama said." 
So why, then, did I not enjoy Close Enough to Touch?  Compared to the three books in Dahl's most recent books in the stellar Donovan Brothers Brewery trilogy, Close Enough to Touch felt clunky and disjointed.  Though I liked Grace and Cole, I couldn't truly understand their actions toward each other or why they chose dishonesty and obstinacy again and again.  Worst of all, I didn't see any chemistry between them outside the bedroom.

The set-up for the conflict between Grace and Cole was solid, if prosaic: She invites the evil Hollywood folk into his pristine ranch world, he feels she's betrayed his trust and feelings for her.  Cole's antipathy toward the film world, though, and his resulting anger at Grace felt forced and exaggerated.  Yes, these are two damaged characters, but if they're both as hurt and broken as we've been told they are, then Dahl needed to give them more space and opportunity to heal each other.  I didn't see that happen, and I didn't really see much emotional growth on Cole's part.  Ultimately, I'm not sure I can envision a happily ever after for Cole and Grace, and that more than anything made me disappointed with Close Enough to Touch.

That being said, I think Victoria Dahl is absolute tops at writing contemporary romance (I haven't loved her historicals as much) and this is the first time I haven't loved one of her books.  The set-up she's done for the remaining books in the trilogy, plus a novella, is promising and I'm eager to check them out. 

Rating: C-
Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Length: 384 pages
Sensuality: Very hot
 
Romance novel review by Sarah The Brazen Bookworm




Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.

4 comments:

  1. I agree...I liked the characters, but not together. The sex was hot, but no chemistry. Maybe the next one will be better :)

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    1. That's what I'm counting on...not the best start to a trilogy, but the other books will surely be better.

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  2. I hate it when there's no chemistry :( Sorry this one was disappointing, I've heard a lot about her other books.

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    1. Her other books are great - very steamy - and I generally really like them. I think that's part of why I was so disappointed. I expect to love absolutely everything from an author, and that's so rarely the case.

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