Tuesday, July 21, 2015

review || CLOSE TO HEART { blog tour } by T.J. Kline

Avon Impluse | July 14, 2015 | Contemporary Romance
Healing Harts, book 3


It only took an instant for her world to come crashing down…but Heart Fire Ranch is a place of new beginnings, even for those who find their way there by accident

As the only veterinarian in town, Justin Hart doesn't have time to think about romance. So when A-list actress Alyssa Cole crashes her car outside his clinic, it's entirely unexpected when there's a spark between them he can't ignore. Still, she's a movie star, and he's just a small town cowboy.

Alyssa has learned the hard way not to believe first impressions, especially not in Hollywood. But, 400 miles from her former life with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she places her trust in the handsome vet who comes to her rescue.

There's no denying the connection between them, but when Alyssa's past shows up at the door, will their new relationship be able to withstand the storm?
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{ about t.j. kline } .

T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and rodeo queen competitions since the age of 14, She has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has had several articles about rodeo published in the past in small periodicals as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah.

{ excerpt } .

Son of a bitch!

As much as he wanted Lyssa to stay, he never wanted it to be a spectacle set up for publicity. He was going to be put on display, nothing more than a tool used to torque her ex-husband’s pocketbook and to twist the media around her finger. Maybe she was more like the Alyssa Cole he’d seen on the big screen after all. Maybe, the woman he thought he knew was the fantasy.

He headed for the back door to the clinic as he saw Franklin, completely pleased with himself, come trotting down the porch steps and wave. “I’m heading out, lots of calls to make to set up this press conference for tomorrow morning. Think we could set it up right here?” He waved his hand toward the front porch.

“Does it really matter what I say?” He couldn’t help the disgust from creeping into his voice. This was a sham and he didn’t enjoy feeling like a common fraud. “Sounds like you and Alyssa have this all planned out.”

Frank arched a brow in question. “If you’ve got a problem with this, say something now. I need for this to be real, Hart.”

Justin grunted at the man. “Sure you do.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Franklin slid the shoulder strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder. “I’ve got too much to get organized to play this guessing game with you. Aly needs you.”

“Why? She has you and she’s a good actress. I’m sure the two of you can pull this off with or without me. I’ve got work to do.” He spun on his heel, disgusted and frustrated.

“You realize she’s not acting right?” Franklin’s words stopped him, his hand on the door. “She’s falling in love with you.” Justin looked back at him. “And whether you want to admit it or not, you’re falling for her. You wouldn’t be this pissed if you weren’t.”

“I’m pissed because you’re asking me to do something that goes against all my morals. You want me to lie about our relationship. There’s nothing about this that’s the truth, no matter how much you spin it.”

Franklin burst out laughing and Justin clenched his fists at his sides, barely keeping himself from punching the other man in the face. The last thing Lyssa needed was a spokesperson bearing a black eye on camera. 

“Did you or did you not rescue her?” When Justin refused to answer, Franklin pressed on. “And do you really think everyone can’t see your feelings for her on your face? All you have to do is look at her.” Franklin grimaced. “You both look like lovesick teenagers.”

Justin didn’t hold back any longer and shoved both hands against Franklin’s chest, knocking him backward. “Shut up!”

“Why, because you don’t want her to know?” Franklin yelled back at him. “Or because you want to pretend it’s not true? I told you this would happen. It’s too late, you’re in too deep and there’s no going back now unless you want to leave her to that wolf she married. Because if you do, he’s going to tear her to shreds. I don’t want to see that happen and, right now, Hart, as much as I don’t like it and wish I had another alternative, you’re her only hope.”

{ review } .

The J-Harts are finally rounding out with big brother, Justin.

If you had the opportunity to read Jessie and Julia's stories, you know what a loving big brother Justin can be -- but also what a meddling brother he can be. So it was nice to see the tables turn -- his sisters can get all up in his business now.

On a late night as Justin is shutting down his vet practice and getting ready to make the short trek to his home, he spots a car go out of control on a slick patch of road. The last thing he expects is for the woman to get out of her car, worried about the fact that she thinks she hit a dog. When she turns and Justin catches her profile, he sees she's severely pregnant and wants to be sure she's ok -- but she'll have none of it. She knows she hit a dog, she wants to be sure it's ok.

After getting the woman in the house, he looks for said dog to appease the woman, never truly imagining he'd find the animal. Just as he's about to give up, though, he does -- and the dog, too, is pregnant. His cousin, Bailey, left for the night and is unreachable, so Justin uses the woman (Alyssa, he gets her name) to help with the emergency C-section.

I know that it's his job, but I loved how calm Justin was with this scene. I loved that he calmly talked Alyssa through it and helped her help him. When he gets to the runt of the litter, though, he wants to save Alyssa's feelings but attempts to keep the pup alive -- a source of a major fight between him and Bailey the following day. Justin has never been one to let an animal suffer, and Bailey feels that it's wrong of him to try and keep this pup around, especially because even the mama dog has recognized something is wrong with the littlest baby.

But Justin doesn't want to hurt Alyssa, so he tries.

Justin has a lot of pride. He's attracted to her, but between her belly and her ring, he knows better than to act on his desires. When he learns who she is, though, he feels like a heal -- what would a woman like her ever want to do with a country hick like himself (his words, not mine)..?

Alyssa was once on top of the acting ladder, but her marriage to Elijah, superagent to the stars, had her career deteriorating. Elijah is extremely manipulative and controlling, and Alyssa finds herself doing the stay-at-home thing -- of which she's ok with... until she learns a little bit more about Elijah.

I truly enjoyed Alyssa and Justin. I loved that they both had fears and insecurities, but the other helped them through them. I loved their superhero bickering; I loved their collaboration with the dogs; I loved that Jessie and Julia loved Alyssa.

I loved that Justin shortened her name, without truly noticing, to Lyssa -- when everyone else in her life shortened it to Aly.

The six weeks they share together has emotions growing quickly, but Justin gives something to Alyssa that no one else has before. She finds herself believing in herself and willing to open herself up and trust someone.

There's a bit of a side story that goes on in CLOSE TO HEART and it's super-close, connected secondary story. I personally did not need it --- I'd have rather that portion be more of a suspense aspect. However, with it there, you as a reader get a fuller understanding of the pride Justin has and how he lets it overrule his emotions.

I wasn't sure that I would enjoy Justin's story -- I did, after all, love Julie and Dylan, and their brood of dogs, too. Justin and Alyssa's story was different but cute and sweet. Yes, the romance was quick; yes, Alyssa had baggage to get through so it truly wasn't the right time to fall for someone else -- besides, there's always hormones to consider. So on one hand, with those things and the fact I could have done without some of the drama, the book shouldn't get more than 4.5 stars based off my rating... I just really enjoyed the story.

I'm hopeful that this isn't the end of the HEALING HARTS stories -- we do, after all, still have little cousin, Bailey, and while he didn't make an appearance this time, I really want to see Gage get a story. Maybe with Bailey... But that's just me being greedy.

for more reviews & tour goodies

{ other reviews in series } .

TAKING HEART 4.5 { review }

{ giveaway } .

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