Thank You to Sparkpress for providing me with an advanced copy of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ latest novel, So Close, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Amanda Beth Luker was raised in an impoverished Florida town, by a wild-child teen mom. Now in her twenties and looking to escape her upbringing, Amanda falls in love and runs away to live in Miami. Unfortunately, love is a fickle thing and she is struggling to make ends meet working at a high-end resort hotel. Amanda is nearly defeated, when she meets a few rich and powerful people who might be able to help her improve her circumstances, including a congressman mounting a presidential campaign and a handsome playboy who seems to be her polar opposite. Will Amanda be defined by her past or will she be able to change her circumstances?
LIKE- I’m a fan of the writing collaborations between McLaughlin and Kraus, so I was very excited to be approved for an advanced copy of So Close. As with their previous novels, So Close, has a strong protagonist and is a good mix of comedy and heartfelt drama. It was easy for me to get swept up in Amanda’s story and her desperation to change her life. I also enjoyed the glamour as Amanda gets introduced to how the other-half lives, extreme wealth that creates a strong contrast to her own family circumstances. So Close has an overriding moral message, of the “grass isn’t always greener on the other side” and on not rushing to judgement with regard to other people’s lives.
DISLIKE- From the first time that he is introduced, I did understand the romantic connection between rich playboy, Pax and Amanda. The chemistry wasn’t there and it felt awkward. I felt like he was somewhat unnecessary to the story or at least his role should have been minimized. The romance storyline, was far less engaging, that the story of Amanda climbing up the ladder as a political aide. When she is working, Amanda is shown as competent and plucky, but with Pax, she seems to lack confidence. On one hand, this is showing different sides to a character and allowing her insecurities to show, but as a reader it was off-putting. I never felt that Pax was likeable, so I never rooted for their relationship to succeed. I wanted to root for them.
RECOMMEND- Maybe. So Close is a summer, beach-read type of story. In this election year, its theming is timely. I enjoyed So Close, but I’m doubtful that it will stick in my memory for very long.