Close to You
When I look at the Christina Dodd books sitting on my keeper shelf, I try to figure out what it is about them that differs from her newer contemporaries. For intance, my very first Dodd was Move Heaven and Earth, not a perfect book but nonetheless a DIK for me. It worked so well, as did many of her early Medievals and later European Historicals, because of the characters she created. Love them or hate them, they leapt off the pages, yet the first word that comes to my mind when pressed about the characters in her contemporaries is bland. Sad as it makes me to say it, the next would be unbelievable and/or too good to be true.
Close to You concludes the Prescott sisters trilogy and tells the story of the youngest, Caitlyn Prescott AKA Kate Montgomery. As a baby Caitlyn was adopted by a couple who didn’t have a clue that the deal was shady. Twenty-four-year-old Kate is a budding television reporter who gets an offer she can’t refuse – confusing as it may be. A television station in Austin, where Kate’s mother lives, has hired her as a political reporter covering events in the state capitol at twice her last salary. Since she’s just starting out, Kate is surprised by the opportunity, but she jumps at it anyway. Soon after starting her new job, she begins to receive threats and is forced to hire Teague Ramos as a bodyguard.
Teague runs security for the Capitol and occasionally works as a bodyguard for society women and their jewelry. Kate’s case would normally be something he avoids, but there’s something about the beautiful reporter. And there’s something about the interest a certain state senator is showing in her that makes him determined to protect her at all costs. Even when the purported stalker is found, Kate still holds his attention. And not just because of the mystery surrounding the death of a woman that may tie into Kate’s past. Teague wants Kate. It’s that simple.
The elements of the story are ones that would normally add up to a slam dunk for me as a reader. I like bodyguard stories – as long as the heroine doesn’t act TSTL and accepts the job her bodyguard has to do – and in this case Kate does generally act intelligently. I like mystery with my romance and I especially like when a character has something that comes out of their own mysterious past. Given all that, I should have loved this one. I didn’t.
Very little of it comes together here. Kate and Teague are stock characters who never develop individually or as a couple beyond the sum of their parts. When I compare this book against My Favorite Bride, for which I wrote a B+ review about 2 1/2 years ago, it’s easy to see the difference between the two books. My Favorite Bride featured sparkling dialogue and characters who came alive for me. In Close to You the heroine is supposed to be an ambitious twenty-something and he a somewhat tortured man with a tragedy in his past he can’t forget. That’s what I was told. But I didn’t feel it. There’s no spark. And flat characters do not become more exciting by being involved in an overly complicated plot.
For readers who stuck with the trilogy, there isn’t much payout. Because of the ages of the sisters involved, a number of years separate the events of book one from number three and that has a further flattening effect. Do I really believe that the heroine of the first book has spent the intervening years in her continuing quest to reunite her family? And if I do, what does that say about how happy her own HEA could have been? I can’t say this is a badly written book – Ms. Dodd has more then proved her writing ability – it’s just not a very interesting one.