Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl
Review copy provided by publisher/ DMCPR Media
Harlequin Mira, November 2012
Synopsis- 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.
Review- Grace Barrett arrives in the country town of Wyoming with nothing but the bag on her back. She’s left behind the glitz and glamour of L.A, her Hollywood makeup artist job and her ex-boyfriend to start afresh. She rents a small apartment from her long-lost Aunt next door to hunky cowboy, Cole Rawlins. With her purple hair, stylishly tattered clothes and tough attitude, Grace makes a grand entrance into this sleepy little town.
At first glance, Close Enough to Touch looks like a sweet story about a city girl meets cowboy kind of romance. That was my first thought, but when I started to read, I realised I was wrong. Grace Barrett is certainly not as sweet as her name. She’s angry, defended and has a mighty habit of pissing off everyone in her path, including Cole.
Despite her tough exterior, Cole is intrigued by this city girl who has bulldozed into his life. He’s dated a woman like this before and she turned his life upside down and made him into a man he would like to forget. But Grace being Grace brings out the worst in everyone, because having people hate her is much easier than having people like her. Because if she likes them in return then she is faced with the risk of losing them.
Cole and Grace have every reason not to get involved with each other, but they do anyway. They embark on an emotional whirlwind that bleeds through their ‘sex only’ relationship. The sex scenes are quite graphic, crude and rough and there were times I had to remind myself that they were two consenting adults. But the sex scenes aren’t just there to heat up the story, they are there to show the characters at their best and their worst, it highlights their vulnerabilities as well as their strengths.
Dahl did a remarkable job at the characterisation of Grace. Even though she made me cringe when she snapped out something mean, or I felt pity for her when she willingly let people use her, there was something very real about her. Perhaps because I’ve worked with women like her, so damaged from a traumatic childhood. Grace is tough, defensive and full of attitude on the outside, but inside she’s as fragile as a baby.
Cole also has his own demons to face and his intrigue for Grace soon develops into a much stronger emotion despite his efforts to keep her at arm’s length.
There’s a clear sense of character growth by the end of the book, much akin to observing people undergoing therapy. Both begin to face their issues and their insight incited both empathy and warmth from me as a reader. As their personas softened, so did my experience of Cole and Grace and I became wholly invested in the success of their relationship. They are certainly not perfect by the end of the story but there’s the allure of hope that all will work out in time.
A captivating contemporary romance novel with an edge. If you enjoy character driven novels with romance that’s not necessarily sweet but but helps the characters to grow, hen pick up a copy of Close Enough to Touch. I’ll be seeking out Dahl’s backlist!
“I loved this book!”
Close Enough to Touch can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers