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.
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 !
"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.
"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.
"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.
"Rosalind At Her Best!"
This is the first time a Rosalind James book has had two narrators. It was different and I really enjoyed it! LIstening to a male narrate the male characters and a female narrate the female characters made the story and dialogue flow very well. They emotions they brought to the story felt real and the characters came to life. An excellent listen!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own
I also read the book and I've included my Amazon review below:
This is a sometimes difficult book to read because it deals with abuse. Yet it shows how a strong woman and a loving man can overcome something so horrible. I truly applaud Rosalind James for tackling such a tough subject with sensitivity and getting into the mindset of the victim.
As usual, Rosalind's characters are rich, vibrant and so wonderful to be part of. The interplay between Luke and Eli is heartwarming. And it wouldn't be a Rosalind James book without a hot, hot, hot love scene.
Do yourself a favor and take the time to visit Paradise, Idaho and meet three people who were made for each other!
"Wonderful, touching story!"
When it comes to books or audiobooks by Rosalind James, I always am fairly certain that I am going to love them - this audiobook definitely does not disappoint, and in fact enhances the story that I first read a few weeks ago. It is a very touching story with characters that I loved, and that felt real to me. It's a romance that also touches on the serious subject of domestic abuse, and is handled in a sensitive, realistic manner. Overall, both a read and a listen that I would recommend highly!
I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own
"Dual narration really works here"
Yes. I usually prefer to listen to non-fiction, so this romantic suspense wasn't an ordinary listen for me. Plus, I had already read the book. To my surprise, I somehow skipped over a few bits when I read it! The readers put just the right amount of emotion into the storytelling - not exaggerated which makes me crazy, but hitting that sweet spot where I could just listen without rolling my eyes. That said, the performance really pulled me in and I thought the ending was very emotional and a nice wrap up. I wasn't sure how I would like two readers, but I did enjoy both and it was done very smoothly.
The people seemed so real. Their lives and situations seemed true to what we might encounter ourselves - except maybe better looking. :) I enjoyed the bits of humor that lightened a story that begins very darkly as the Kayla runs towards a new and safer life. The details make a difference – how much a person who is poor would love to have a sharp knife and decent pan when she's cooking, for instance!
Natalie. Her voice and accent were smooth and fit the story so well.
This book deals with a hard subject – domestic abuse. It has the hopefulness and the difficulty of escaping (successfully) from it, but it's not easy to think about.
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