The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

The Closer You Come by Gena ShowalterThe Closer You Come is kind of an everything story but it doesn’t feel thrown together even as it hits on a bunch of favorite themes. There’s even a dog or two to round this out. That might sounds flippant, but while it’s true, this is also a powerful, emotional story about two scarred people who have to learn to trust and open up when everything they know tells them it’s not smart or even possible.

Strawberry Valley is the kind of small town people dream about but then discover isn’t free of gossip, bullying, or pettiness any more than anywhere. Bad things happen here to good people. Brook Lynn has suffered more than most through a combination of tragedy, physical disability, and an older sister who never grew beyond the acting out phase. Brook Lynn Dillon is fiercely loyal and will defend her sister against the world even when sometimes it looks like her sister is doing her best to destroy their every chance.

Brook Lynn is in full protective mode the first time she meets the love of her life…as she extracts her sister from his bed. And that’s just the start of the tumultuous relationship between Brook Lynn and Jase Hollister, a man with a past he keeps hidden because he’s sure the town will reject him for it.

He is recently out of prison, and while horrific, his crime had solid reasons. But the prison system and his inmates didn’t care about the why. He still jumps at shadows and suffers from PTSD, but Brook Lynn starts to change all that long before he’s ready to accept he can change.

Two good people bearing up under deep wounds struggle to find balance in what is not an easy path but certainly a compelling one. There are aspects of both histories I was able to identify with and could understand the rest. This isn’t a rescue story exactly because neither are stable as much as Brook Lynn wants to pretend, but at the same time it is a rescue story because they rescue each other.

And their histories are not the only twists that crop up in this novel.

It could have felt artificially extended if not for how the later events wind through the earlier parts so organically. Only one of the twists surprised me, and that in a good way because it enhanced what had been seeded rather than contradicting it. Even more, there was the potential for cliche at several points and yet the story avoided pretty much every one despite (as I said in the beginning) touching on familiar themes.

Speaking of themes, this book might carry a serious social point or two between prison PTSD and people with visible disabilities, but it doesn’t fall down on the sex either with spicy encounters that border on erotic without slipping over the BDSM line as so many seem to do these days.

In case it somehow escaped you, I really enjoyed this book. I like romances for how they show us ways to overcome obstacles to love. The trials these two faced were real world and often dark, but ultimately they overcame them. I loved the people, enjoyed the story, and didn’t want the book to end.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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