Kayla Chambers knows what love is—and what it isn’t. When her boyfriend turns abusive, she and her son escape to a new life in a place where he’ll never find them. The idyllic town of Paradise, Idaho, has everything she needs to get back on her feet. Survival is her only goal, and the last thing she wants is another man in her life.
But Kayla’s new neighbor, high school principal Luke Jackson, is determined to change her mind. Luke usually takes the fast lane with women, but he can see that Kayla and her son need help, and he wants to earn her trust—even if that means taking things slow. He strikes up a friendship that soon simmers into something passionate and real. But when Kayla’s past catches up with her, Luke knows he has to find a way to keep her safe…or risk losing her forever.
Oh my gosh. So. Good. Wonderful characters–both main and secondary–and finally, finally, a widow with a happy first marriage who manages to find an equally happy second relationship…unfortunately, after suffering through a horrendous one (absolutely no hyperbole there) but still. Kudos to Ms. James for not vilifying husband #1 to get Kayla to a HEA with Luke. (And I love both her and Luke’s explanations of how love works…totally highlighter-worthy.)
This wasn’t a lighthearted read, but it does have some lighthearted moments despite the weighty topics it deals with. Luke’s family and friends and his dog Daisy (who has her owner firmly wrapped around her little paw), added quite a bit of levity to the story. I’ve already picked up the audio of book one in the series (Carry Me Home–Luke’s brother’s story); even the little bit of Zoe (the heroine) we see in this one convinced me I need to read her book sooner rather than later.
Hold Me Close was painful to read at times, but through it all Kayla and Eli (her nine-year-old son) managed to stay strong and never gave up; they were definitely an inspiration. And Luke? He’s exactly the hero she needed–one with infinite patience and understanding, and who was willing to let her and Eli do their own rescuing, even though he could have jumped in at any time and “fixed” everything in a heartbeat.
The storyline with the abusive ex was horrifying, but well-written; watching him behind the scenes really ratcheted up the tension. His end was on the abrupt side, but it was definitely poetic justice as well so it’s hard to mind much.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Rosalind James is the author of the Kindle-bestselling “Escape to New Zealand” series (also available in paperback), as well as the U.S.-based “Kincaids” series (Book 3, “Asking for Trouble,” now available!) Rosalind is a former marketing executive who most recently spent several years in Australia and New Zealand, where she fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the culture of both countries. She attributes her rapid success to the fact that “Lots of people would like to escape to New Zealand! I know I did!”