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New Release Review: CLOSE TO HEART by T.J. Kline (Healing Harts #3)

LOOK AT THAT COVER. Love it!

CLOSE TO HEART

Close to Heart
by T.J. Kline

Synopsis:

It only took an instant for her world to come crashing down…but Heart Fire Ranch is a place of new beginnings, even for those who find their way there by accident

As the only veterinarian in town, Justin Hart doesn’t have time to think about romance. So when A-list actress Alyssa Cole crashes her car outside his clinic, it’s entirely unexpected when there’s a spark between them he can’t ignore. Still, she’s a movie star, and he’s just a small town cowboy.

Alyssa has learned the hard way not to believe first impressions, especially not in Hollywood. But, 400 miles from her former life with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she places her trust in the handsome vet who comes to her rescue.

There’s no denying the connection between them, but when Alyssa’s past shows up at the door, will their new relationship be able to withstand the storm?

Review:

I have serious cover love for this book–shallow, I know, but it just gives me all the warm fuzzy feels. I mean look at it–sigh 🙂

Initially, the characters seemed to live up to their awesome cover.

Justin’s a veterinarian, and in the very first chapters of the book he delivers a litter of puppies for a dog who’s been hit by a car. Then he takes in the woman who accidentally hit the dog, offering her shelter from the inclement weather and a place to stay while her car is getting fixed. So far, so good.

Alyssa’s a woman looking for a do-over–when she confronted her controlling husband about his cheating (with her best friend! while she’s pregnant with his child!), the louse threw her out of the house. She retaliated (a small victory, but we’ll take what we can) by taking his brand-new, mega-expensive luxury car.

Yep, the one she just crashed.

She puts aside her squeamishness, helps Justin deliver the puppies, and even takes the runt of the litter under her wing and ensures he has a fighting chance at survival. Again, all good things.

Justin and Alyssa have an instant attraction, but both know it’s not a good idea right now because 1) she’s married and 2) she’s 8+ months pregnant with that man’s child and 3) they just met under stressful circumstances.

Plus, Alyssa’s got some fairly heavy-duty secrets she’s hiding. The fact that she’s a (retired) A-list actress, for one–when Justin finds this one out, his initial reaction is anger, because he feels that he’s been played.

It’s around this point where the story starts to go slightly off the rails.

The insta-attraction veers a bit to far into insta-love territory, with a side helping of I’m-going-to-kiss-you-like-our-lives-depend-on-it-even-though-we-both-know-it’s-a-really-bad-idea-but-gosh-darn-it-I-just-can’t-help-myself. Honestly, the losing control and kissing thing happened way too many times considering the age of the characters, making them seem like hormone-driven teenagers instead of mature adults. (And okay, Alyssa at least could have blamed pregnancy hormones–she doesn’t, but it’s at least an option. What’s Justin’s excuse?)

By far my biggest issue with the story, though, is Justin’s attitude. Once he finds out about Alyssa’s celebrity status, he starts to have some major misgivings re: him being “enough” for her. I get the feelings of inadequacy, I do. But he turns them into a major a**hat attitude–when he’s in his “I’m not worthy” mode, he inevitably decides that he’s being played by Alyssa/her ex/her lawyer (because no way could she want him for him, despite what conversations they might have had to that effect minutes earlier) and lashes out against her, being mean and spiteful and not giving her a chance to defend herself (or even to speak at all, in some instances).

Seriously, at the end I was half rooting for her not to go back to him. He certainly didn’t do anything to deserve the final chance she gave him, IMO.

But then it wouldn’t be a very good romance novel, I guess…

So in the end–all kinds of potential here, but it doesn’t fully live up to it. There were things I liked about the story–the secondary characters were fun, the story’s premise was good, and did I mention the cover? 😉 –I’d give another story in the series a chance in the hopes that the things I wasn’t crazy about were just a one-off here.

Rating: 3 stars / C

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