Title: Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl
Jackson Series Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 381 pages
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
Can a city girl make it in the wild, wild West?
For makeup artist Grace Barrett, Hollywood is less the land of golden opportunity and more 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. As they discover a sizzling attraction, it’s Grace who finds herself surprised. Cole’s the only man who’s ever dared to get close enough to see through her tough facade. And his mysterious past only makes him sexier.
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.
Victoria Dahl’s newest release, Close Enough to Touch is an intense and emotional novel. Starting over is never easy, but for Grace Barrett, she has no choice. Blackballed by her cheating and vindictive ex, Grace’s stay in Jackson Hole, WY is a temporary pit stop until her new job in Vancouver begins. Her next door neighbor Cole Rawlins is also playing a waiting game as he recovers from a serious injury that jeopardizes his future career plans.
My heart ached just for Grace Barrett. Her life has been difficult; she has struggled to make a success of her life, and one bad decision destroyed everything she worked so hard to achieve. She is angry, tough and fiercely independent. She keeps the world at a distance and clings tightly to her tough-girl attitude. Grace is also quite perceptive of those around her and she eventually becomes aware of her own destructive behavior.
Cole Rawlins is sexy, charming and brings to the relationship his own set of emotional baggage. On the surface, he is much more open than Grace, but as the story progresses, it becomes apparent he is also keeping his fair share of secrets. He is more honest and upfront than Grace and although their relationship is casual, he does try to get close to her.
With both characters holding so much of themselves back, it is impossible for them to have anything but a superficial relationship. There is a lack of communication between them that causes them to jump to wrong conclusions and misconstrue certain situations. Instead of feeling contrived, the misunderstandings feel natural; they are a natural extension of the characters inability to open up. In Cole’s case, shame keeps him from talking about certain events. Grace’s silence is purely self-preservation. She refuses to allow anyone to see what she perceives to be her weaknesses and she does not allow anyone to get close to her. Both characters are quick to run away from their problems instead of facing them head on.
While in many areas, Cole and Grace’s relationship is far from easy they are definitely compatible in the bedroom. The sex between them is raw and gritty, with very little tenderness. Grace does let her guard down some and she eventually accepts Cole’s more gentle gestures. With so much left unspoken between them, Grace has a few doubts about where she stands with Cole, and some of their sexual encounters feed her insecurities.
There are lighter moments in Close Enough to Touch. Some occur between Cole and Grace, but many are provided by the delightful secondary cast of characters. Bartender Jenny is wonderful, and she is the first person to slip past Grace’s defenses. Eve Hill is Grace’s boss, but also her friend. Grace’s Great Aunt Rayleen Kisler is gruff and no nonsense, but she also has an undeniable charm that makes her one of the most enjoyable characters in the novel.
Close Enough to Touch is not a typical Victoria Dahl novel. And in this case, that is a very good thing. It is a heavier romance with realistic characters who have genuine problems to solve. It is a bit angsty but watching Cole and Grace overcome their obstacles is incredibly gratifying and emotionally satisfying. A heartwarming romance with two flawed yet very appealing protagonists that I highly recommend.