By Tqwana B.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…
Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.
There seems to be a trend happening in contemporary romance lately (though I hate the term ‘trend’, since it only seems to apply to books by and/or for women and YA), one of more realism. No longer are the hero and heroine being kept apart by the flimsiest excuses for misunderstandings and lack of communication, or the heroine overhearing only part of a conversation and running out before missing the most important bits. Gena Showalter’s The Closer You Come is one such book. And though the fantasy of the hot, alpha male is still there, no longer are the complications to HEA just about fear of commitment or the guy not yet ready to turn in his player card.
What’s also great about this book is that our heroine, Brook Lynn – man, if that name isn’t Southern as all get out – is a person with a disability. And while her hearing impairment does affect her life, the narrative never becomes solely about that. She’s still fiercely protective of the family she has left, independent, vulnerable, sometimes insecure about her implants, funny, outgoing, sensual and sexual…. you know, like a real, well-rounded person.
No less real and complicated is Jase, who spent most of his youth in prison for a very, very serious crime, after bouncing around from one disaster of a foster home to another. And his trauma from those 9 years or incarceration, compounded with his guilt also lend to a very real portrayal. Not to mention that he slept with her sister before falling for Brook Lynn. Two things that most of us wouldn’t be able to overlook. Brook Lynn couldn’t fix him like magic either, but she does help make it better to cope.
My one complaint about The Closer You Come is one minor paragraph about Dr. Murphy, because it seemed to be thrown in there just to say, “hey, there are black people here, and look, he’s professional and distinguished, so don’t think negatively about my all white cast of characters.” Throwaways like that only serve to highlight the lack of diversity rather than show it exists. It just made me really uncomfortable.
What’s a review of a romance novel without talking about the sexy times! And Gena Showalter does great sexy times. Having only read her Lords of the Underworld series and sort of falling out of love with them, I was glad to pick up this book and find that she still has it. Fans who’ve complained about her not writing hot sex scenes anymore b/c of her faith are not only dead ass wrong, but rude as hell to assume that a Christian woman cannot be or isn’t sexual. Shame on you!
I really dug this book and the novella before it starring Kenna and Dane, and can’t wait to pick up the rest in the series to see how Beck and West find their HEA.
*ARC provided by NetGalley