Close to You by Kara Isaac

Allison Shire, a former academic, is now a tour guide for all things Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. She has sworn off love. Then Jackson Gregory steps into her life. He’s on the three week tour with his great-uncle, though he knows next to nothing about Lord of the Rings. He, too, has no interest in love and romance.

So, what happens when the sparks ignite between these two? Lots of mishaps and misadventures.

I really enjoyed this quick, easy read. it’s a really sweet, cute romance story that made me laugh and brought a tear or two to my eye. It was tons of fun with all of the references to Lord of the Rings.

Kara Isaac does an excellent job of writing witty dialogue and original descriptions. I will remember Jackson and Allison for a long time, and I may have to give this another read when I need something light and fun to read.

If you enjoy sweet romance stories or are a Lord of the Rings fan, you may find yourself as drawn into the story as I was. One night, I just couldn’t put this book down and I read past my bedtime. I finished the book the very next night, completed in just one week (I only have time to read for about three hours six nights a week).

This is Kara Isaac’s debut novel and I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to read her newer novel, Can’t Help Falling, released just six months after this one. Can’t Help Falling includes references to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which are near and dear to my heart.

20 Short Ones by Dan Salerno

I received an  ecopy of 20 Short Ones by Dan Salerno free from BookLook bloggers to write a review for them.

I haven’t read very many short stories, and I had read that romance stories don’t really work well as short stories.  However, in 20 Short Ones by Dan Salerno, Dan debunks that statement.  The stories in 20 Short Ones are all relationship stories — some friendship and some romance.  His characters are interesting and his plots are sometimes quirky, but between his characters and his plots, he kept me reading.

I loved how in these stories offered so many different aspects of relationships and the problems that can be part of a relationship, whether that problem is caused by both people, an external force, or an internal conflict in one of the two people or even both of the people in the relationship.  These short stories did a good job of exploring many different relationship conflicts and possible resolutions.

There were a couple of stories in this collection that seemed a bit difficult to follow either because the author bounced from one character’s point of view to the other’s quickly and without warning or offering a page break or something to alert the reader.  Also, sometimes long passages of dialogues caused me to have to go back and figure out which character said which part of the dialogue because there were no tags or beats to help clarify who was speaking.  I understand too many tags take away from a story, but beats can actually add to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed nine of the stories and felt that nine of the stories were good.  There were only two stories in the collection that I found I didn’t really care for and two that I absolutely loved.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading stories about relationships with characters and situations that may remind them of relationships in their past or present, or maybe one that they hope will be part of their future.  I will definitely hold on to this collection and read most, if not all, of these stories again.  I found that short stories can satisfy me and can be a pleasure to read.