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.
©2015 Rosalind James (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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"Love the narration"
I listened to Carry Me Home, the first book in Rosalind James' Paradise, Idaho series a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. With this second book of the series, she has totally won me over. While I found Carry Me Home quite light-hearted with lots of witty banter and humor, the atmosphere of Hold Me Close was much more serious and highly emotional. I've read several books this year that focused on domestic abuse, but this one definitely affected me the most. The way the author portrayed the fear and insecurities of the abused, especially the effect it had on a young child, was really heartbreaking. The chapters from the abuser's point of view were totally creepy and disturbing.
That said, it wasn't all depressing and sad. There was plenty of fun stuff and romance, too. In fact, there were a lot more sex scenes in this one than in the previous one, so the emphasis was definitely on romance rather than suspense. My reason for giving this 4 instead of 5 stars: Luke was a bit too perfect to be real, and the shooting of the detective was a bit of a loose end. The suspense side of it just got resolved too easily and quickly for my taste.
Nevertheless, this series is now among my favorite romantic suspense series. Some of that may have to do with the absolutely awesome narration of the audio books by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross. Love the way the narrators stick to their gender for narrating the male and female parts and swap back and forth within the chapters. Great audio production!
"Another hit from Rosalind James"
I read and loved this book so much. The author puts a lot of emotion into her characters, and I had to wipe my eyes every time I read a chapter with the young boy, Eli, in it. That being said, the narrators were good but could have been more awesome at bringing out the emotion in the characters. I did like the male/female switcheroo; it's just the narrators seemed a bit too old for the characters.
That being said, this is a GREAT STORY. and I can't wait to read & listen to the next one in the series.
"A beautiful love story, suspense and realism"
tender, protective, overcomer
Kayla - she was so strong, with so much courage and conviction. She never let her own fear and doubts keep her from protecting her son and getting them away from the abuser she was with.
Luke - he is such a tender-heart and reformed bad-boy! You just want to cheer him on as he earnestly stumbles a couple times with figuring out how best to help Kayla and Eli.
Both laughed and cried. The book was very emotional and tender with joy in the end.
Check out this amazing story by one of my favorite romance authors, Rosalind James . This story is so touching and sweet, but it is not your typical -light afternoon romance read. It has some serious chops and I felt it deserved some recognition. This story touches on some very serious themes, domestic violence, survival against serious odds, and finding the courage and help to escape a dangerous situation in a time of personal crisis. Kayla and Luke are so perfect for each other, and you just want to see Kayla beat her demons once and for all. She has gone through so much turmoil and Luke really comes through for her with honor and love as the hero in this book. The characters are so well-drawn and realistic, and the romance isn't bad, either! Just wanted to share this lovely story with everyone I know. It is so well written and if you like your romantic fiction with some suspense and realism, as well as a little spice, this is for you.
"I need a Luke to Hold Me Close"
I'm just gonna skip all those silly questions that they ask to get to the real review.
Oh. My. Goodness. I don't normally go for suspenseful novels or novels with a "country" setting, but this one was just too good and I have no regrets reading it. This is, by far, the best book Rosalind James has written. I love her NZ and Kincaid series, but this one is so thoughtful and genuine and absolutely amazing.
All of the characters are written so well. You can really feel Luke's patience and compassion. You can feel Kayla's fear, pain and strength. And you just absolutely hate Allen and his "natural consequences."
I was so emotionally connected to this book. I cried at the "breadwinner" part. I was bawling at cemetery part. I was cheering for Kayla as she ran from her abuser. I was cheering for Luke to fall in love with Kayla. I was so thrilled with his patience. It was such a beautiful and understanding relationship. It was perfect without the perfection ruining the story.
There weren't as many love scenes as her other books, but DANG were they hot. Phew. I'm not usually one to blush at a sex scene, but I was fanning my face. Not raunchy at all (she's never raunchy). It was sweet, sexy, and definitely steamy.
This really is her best book. And the narrators did such a great job with their back and forth narration. Luke is now one of my favorite book boyfriends.
I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. The opinion here is my own and I was not required to give a positive review.
"Will Luke Protect Me Too"
Wow did Kayla luck out when she comes to town and catches the eye of her childhood crush who doesn't remember her. Now that sets this up for a story within the story which Rosalind James is very good at pulling off. I love that this strong woman found herself in a bad situation, put her kid first and planned a smart and safe way to remove them from the situation. Smart, strong and pretty, Kayla is the perfect heroine for hot, sexy and protective Luke. This book has everything -- sweet romance, cute kid, family dynamics, psycho stalker ex boyfriend. I like this book even better than the first one even if Cal is funnier than Luke.
The duet style narration is the absolute best, especially with these two narrators. Phil Gigante has the most swoon-worthy voice that makes this a must listen.
Absolutely worth the price I paid -- I was less than a credit so I would gladly pay it again.
I enjoyed this audiobook very much. The story deals with domestic abuse and its aftermath in the victims ability to trust again. The characters were likeable and the narration was excellent.
"Great book under $8"
Rosalind James’s specialty has always been realism – serious, soul-shaking love and, in her suspense-ier outings, real threats or dangers -- this one in the form of an abusive ex who … well, let’s just say he’d have a good time hanging out with Stephen King’s Randall Flagg. Flagg would love this guy. He’s that creepy.
Fortunately, Kayla Chambers, once she escapes him, is very smart about not leaving any kind of trail for him to follow. And even more fortunately for her and her nine year-old son Eli, they come into the orbit of Luke Jackson, high school principal in the small town of Paradise, Idaho, a rock-steady good guy who’s the apple of many a single Paradise woman’s eye, but has always lived his own love life well outside town. He knows SOMETHING is up with Kayla and Eli, and he’s powerfully attracted to Kayla -- but she knows better than he does that she can NOT afford to fall in love. She can’t even afford to have a friend -- not with her powerful, ‘connected’ ex still obsessively searching for her. Luke, because he’s extremely patient and determined, eventually not only gets the truth from Kayla, but brings back her lost ability to enjoy sex (at page-melting levels). Unfortunately, Kayla’s ex is just as patient in his grimly determined search for the woman who got away, plus he has the added advantage of being a slick-talking psychopath.
Aaaaand that’s all you’re gettin.’ Sorry. Anything more would be a spoiler. But keep some tissues handy -- I had to laugh at myself, crying over these people who don’t even really exist. But that’s what I buy these books for: the irresistible, lump-in-your-throat power of the emotional scenes (well, okay, along with the button-popping sex and the suspense/danger. So it’s really a three-fer).
Crackling good listen from beginning to end.
As with the first book in the series the performance of the story was outstanding. Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross did an amazing job with the delivery of the story.
"Not nearly up to James’ NZ standard"
I actually went online to find out if this series was written BEFORE the Escape to New Zealand series because the writing reflected so much less experience and craft. No! Book 1 in the Escape series was published in 2012. This book is copywrite 2015!
In this series, Ms. James relies on the internal narrative of the characters to develop her characters. Much lazier and patronizing of the listeners’ ability to figure out what motivates a character than the hard work she did with the New Zealand series by crafting compelling dialogue and letting characters reveal themselves by how they acted and reacted to people and circumstances. A real let down.
Natalie Ross’ narration is as unsuccessful at creating Ms. James’ Paradise, Idaho’s female characters as Claire Bocking’s narration is at creating ALL of James’ New Zealand characters. Ross just reads; she does not dramatize the narrative. Rather than being in-the-moment and engaged in the story, she is just reading words on a page. No timing, no building of the action. No craft.
Phil Gigante is pretty good with the male voices….except for nine-year-old Eli. His performance does not hurt the book…but it does not rescue the production either.
Per the story: I really like Luke and he is the only reason to read this book. He is the only reason I can give this book 3 stars. Too bad such a great character got wasted in such a mediocre book.
"I loved the dual narration in this series!"
I was not sure what to.think with 2 narrators, but I loved it. it really brought the story more to life.
"Heartbreaking and Heartwarming"
This author is new to me and I REALLY enjoyed this book. Kayla's story is heartbreaking and I think the author did a very good job of really making the reader "feel" her pain. I loved how kind and patient Luke was to Kayla and her son. Their struggle seemed very real and the story moved at a good pace. I hate it when books rush through the difficult times and cut right to the ending. This book didn't do that and I enjoyed it so much more.
"Simony not for made film"
Just not at all my type book sorry be so honest don't grip or make me many thirsty next chapters
"Emotional and gripping listening, loved this audio"
Skilled narration and character differentiation, light and shade in the story, makes for great listening. Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross do a good job here . Tough listening when it's the man Kayla and son Eli have run from - how I disliked actually hearing him speak his mean and controlling words . Happy/ sad listening when it's 9 year old Eli - he can tug at your heartstrings!
Kayla might be softly spoken but her resolution and pride shine through and Luke's easy, winning charm, backed up by his determination and generous heart oozes through his voice and words.
Rosalind James has a winning way of finding magical and fun moments in everyday life
Loved the book, loved the people mix, the glimpse of small town life , the romance, the suspense and loved the listening !
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