Reviewed by Tori
Camilla LaRue (Cami) has had a crush on Landon Palazzo since she was 5 years old. As the years went by, her crush deepens to love but Landon never treated her like more than his sister’s best friend. When he leaves for the Navy immediately after graduation, Cami is heartbroken. Though they stayed in contact, Landon never came home and Cami had no choice but to move on. Now a successful co-owner of the restaurant Seduction, Cami has reached a level of contentment.
Landon Palazzo is finally home after a 12 year career in the Navy. Ready to take over his father’s construction company, he is pleasantly surprised to see Cami LaRue is all grown up. While he also crushed on Cami when they were younger, he knew because of their age difference that he needed to let her be until she was older before pursuing anything romantic with her. But now they are both adults and Landon is ready to stake his claim.
Cami has finally come to accept that she and Landon are not meant to be but when he begins to pour on the charm, she discovers that sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for.
I have enjoyed Proby’s writings overall and this series in particular. This romance contemporary series follows five best friends on their journey through the pitfalls of life and love with a fair amount of laughter, love, and comradery. The friendship between the women is really where the strength of this series lies. I adore each and every scene that features these women together whether they’re at work or just having their weekly brunches where they spill about everything.
Close to You is the second installment in Kristen Proby’s Fusion series. A very lightweight and cozy friends to lovers romance contemporary that reunites a couple who have been attracted to one another for years but various circumstances kept them apart. Humor and engaging narrative helps to push this story along though to be honest the lack of drama, angst, and conflict left me feeling rather ambivalent about the story.
Cami and Landon are nice characters whose interactions are comfortable and almost entirely conflict free. They are extremely similar in their character makeup. Intelligent, loyal, and witty with a lack of the usual deep seated emotional baggage that often sparks the tension, drama, and requisite misunderstandings of this particular trope. Hard working; their well-balanced personalities and off the cuff humor (mainly Cami’s) flows throughout the story. I liked that they both older and established. It was nice to read about a couple who aren’t in need of any saving.
On the whole, I found this story very bland. Proby sets up Cami’s story in book one, giving us hints to how strongly she feels for Landon. In here Proby expands on those feelings and letting us know the crush was mutual and the romance follows a very predictable path. Perhaps if we could have seen them fall in love I would have become more invested. Proby gives us the basics of their childhood and teen years but skips forward to the present so we never see that ‘moment’ that tips their crushes to love. I never felt this was Cami and Landon’s love story. We could have been reading about anyone. There are no real arguments or setbacks. The sexual scenes are abundant and hot but again predictable. There is no anticipation. No emotional expectations. No passion. I had a hard time accepting the ease in which they slipped into the role of a committed couple.
The main conflict is Cami’s insecurity, which all revolves around Landon leaving her again. This bothered me because he didn’t leave HER per say. He joined the Navy and left so they could both experience life and grow. She left him too-marrying another man-and that stopped communication between them for a while. There was a sense of desperation and fear surrounding her that seemed better suited to a couple who loved and loss in a traumatic way and now they have been given a second chance to get it right. It is such a contrast to the strong, independent business woman persona she presents. With Landon, she completely folds.
Landon is the perfect beta hero. He’s sweet, compassionate, empathetic, and focused. Once you’re in his heart, there is nothing he won’t do for you. He knows what Cami wants before she even knows it. He’s too perfect. He’s every heroic attribute rolled up in one man. He lets us know he’s always loved Cami and wanted to be with her but managed to hide his need far better than her. So…why did he wait to pursue her? Why did it take him being grounded before he acknowledges that she was always the one for him. There were times I felt, like Cami, that he only decided to be with her because his life’s dream had come to an end and she’s there where he left her. I really wish he and Cami had sat down and discussed everything. Anything. Instead, they touch upon all the elephants in the room and then move on. Every issue is internalized. Even the defining moment of their lives is not so much defining as a tragic situation that resolves in an instant and finally convinces Cami that Landon does love her and is finally ready to settle down.
What kept this from being a total loss for me are the subplots and secondary characters. Cami’s interactions with the cat who adopted her and her ex-husband are hilarious. Her nephew offers us insight into her family life, showing us how being a late in life baby affected her relationships with her parents and her much much older siblings. Cami’s best friends are a force unto themselves and I love their cheerleader mentality as they give her the courage to accept her happiness. Mia, Landon’s sister, is insane and has some sobering advice for him. She lets him know that she will not tolerate his usual MO when it comes to Cami. Again, it’s something we never saw so we can’t agree or disagree with her on this matter.
Fans of Proby and low-key romance contemporaries with no muss or fuss will enjoy this one. If you’re like me and enjoy more spice and seeing a couple have to work for their HEA, you will be disappointed. While this was not a favorite in the series, I won’t be giving up on it just yet. Next up is Kat’s story, Blush for Me, set to release March 2017.