Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CAN'T HELP FALLING...CLOSE TO YOU by Kara Isaac, Two Reviews by Winnie Thomas

I was so excited to read Kara Isaac's debut novel, Close to You, and I was definitely not disappointed!. The cover and story description are very intriguing, and who can resist a novel set in New Zealand? I must admit, I'm about as familiar with Tolkien's works as Jackson (one of the main characters) was, but the story is so well-written that it didn't matter that I'm Lord of the Rings and Hobbit challenged. If I hadn't known, I would never have guessed it's a debut novel, because it is so creative and engaging. It is also extremely well-edited, which I appreciated. 
Kara Isaac is a fantastic wordsmith--the story pulled me in immediately, flowed seamlessly, and tickled my funny bone with laugh-out-loud situations. I loved the witty and clever dialogue, and the characters were so genuine, likeable, and endearing that I hated to let them go at the end of the book. I'm hoping Kara is a fast writer, because I'm anxiously looking forward to more of her books!


A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

After reading Kara's debut novel, Close to You, and I couldn't wait to read her second novel, Can't Help Falling. I love the unique and creative way she has incorporated Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis's Narnia books into her stories. The setting of Can't Help Falling had me traveling to jolly old England right along with Emelia Mason to meet up with Peter Carlisle in Oxford. These two main characters are very realistic and relatable. Their flaws and personal mistakes make them so human and lovable that the reader laughs and cries right along with them. Kara Isaac's quirky, sometimes snarky, but always fun sense of humor adds so much to the story and makes for some laugh-out-loud scenes and visual images. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

I'm not very familiar with C. S. Lewis's books, but I was able to follow along well. I'm sure those who have devoured the Narnia books would catch more of the meaning and essence she has woven into the story. This book can stand alone, but reading Close to You first might enhance the enjoyment of it, as there are some characters from it that make an appearance in Can’t Help Falling. This is a Christian fiction book with themes of redemption, forgiveness and hope winding through it. 


A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter fa├žade, there's a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can't resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England--home to C.S. Lewis--to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain's best rowers--until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He's determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It's the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac's inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

Both books are available as Ebook or Paperback at both retailers:
Purchase Close To You at Amazon
Purchase Close To You at Christianbook.com

Purchase Can't Help Falling at Amazon
Purchase Can't Help Falling at Christianbook.com

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the publisher, under no obligation. All opinions are my own.
Click here for more about Winnie Thomas


  1. I've read both of these, and they're great. Love Kara! I hope she writes more. :D

  2. I've certainly heard enough good things about them, but as usual I'm woefully behind! Thanks Winnie!

  3. I’m behind as usual. But these look sooooo good! Hobbits? Yes! Narnia? Yes!


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