Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl

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.

Ms. Dahl's contemporaries are some of my all-time favorites (subtract Crazy in Love from that declaration, however), so I was very excited to see a new release from her.  Unfortunately, Close Enough to Touch falls so far off the mark for me, I wasn't able to finish it.  

Grace Barrett is a prickly heroine; she's jaded and pissed off and when trouble finds her, her first instinct is to run.  That's how she ended up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, well, that and the fact that she no place else to go and no money to get there.  She is taken in by her Great Aunt Rayleen, who offers Grace an apartment at the complex affectionately known by the locals as the Stud(d) farm.  Grace has a job lined up in Vancouver, so she's going to bide her time in Wyoming hopefully making some money until it's time for her to leave.  

Cole Rawlins is an injured cowboy who's had a taste of L.A. and doesn't want any more of it.  He knows Grace with her severe makeup and her purple hair is 100% L.A.  Just because he knows it doesn't mean he can control his thoughts about her...or stay away from her.  When Grace proposes they have sex -- it wouldn't mean anything -- Cole thinks it would be a good way to get her out of his system, so he agrees.  

And that's where the narrative jumped the shark for me.  

I can imagine Grace is an attractive woman and Cole is attractive man.  I can imagine they would be considered attractive and desirable to members of the opposite sex.  What I cannot imagine and could not imagine as I struggled to read is why Grace and Cole are attracted to each other.  That little flutter of magic previously found in Ms. Dahl's books -- that little spark of a connection -- was sorely missing here.  The more Grace fought against her feelings for Cole, the more he tried harder to fix her life and her problems, despite his own unsolved issues.

I couldn't suspend my belief enough to accept that Grace and Cole could have a successful happily ever after together.   

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Close Enough to Touch.)

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