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.
4 Stars - Would Recommend to a friend
If you are expecting a fun, flirty book typical of Ms. James' other work - STOP! Hold Me Close is not that book. Now, that I've told you that, let me also tell you that I continue to be impressed the the range of story telling and sensitivity to complex issues the author displays with this book.
In Hold Me Close, we return to Paradise, ID and meet Luke, the younger of the Jackson brothers. He is the high school principal and has sailed under a golden star for just about everything. We also meet Kayla and her son Eli. They have survived some of the worst that life can throw at you and land in town to start over again.
As we follow Kayla, Eli, and Luke we see a gracious, sweet man quietly court as scared woman who is learning to live again. We also see a small family start to blossom into life as they learn to not be scared anymore.
One of the things I loved about this book is that the issue of domestic violence is treated with the gravity it deserves, but it doesn't get too graphic. Luke feels an instant attraction to Kayla, but he respects her and that is a theme we see occur in the book over and over again. The respect he shows her needs (and those of Eli) allow them to ease into a relationship that was there before they even knew it.
The fantastic storytelling we expect from Ms. James is evident in Hold Me Close, but it is a much "softer" and more emotional book that her normal fair. I enjoyed the book and the change of pace. I connected with Luke and Kayla and rooted for both of them. This works as a stand alone book. There is cross over with characters from the first Paradise book, but not enough to bog you down if you haven't read it.