After the Fire
Code of Honor
A Christmas Legacy
Cop of the Year
Count on Me
Feel the Heat
Finally a Family
The Fire Within
The Man Who
Loved Christmas

Nothing More to Lose
On the Line
Our Two Sons
Practice Makes Perfect
Promises to Keep
Someone to Believe In
Tell Me No Lies
Ties That Bind
Trust in Me

Close to You
by Kathryn Shay
(Berkley, $7.99, PG) ISBN 0-425-21450-3
Close to You is the closely connected sequel to Someone to Believe In. The hero and heroine of first book were Bailey O’Neil and Clay Wainwright, a U. S. Senator. Two years have passed since the conclusion of that story and Clay is now the Vice President. He and Bailey are married and have started a family. C. J. Ludzecky is one of the members of the Secret Service team providing protection for the Vice President and his family. Bailey took a liking to C.J. and requested her assignment. C.J. is the sister of the secondary hero of the author’s Promises to Keep.

Aidan O’Neil is Bailey’s brother. He meets C.J. when his family assembles at the hospital following Bailey’s and Aidan’s father’s heart attack. Aidan blames himself because he had finally decided to embark on a full-time career as a photographer instead of working in the family business, an Irish pub in New York. He had told his father, and his father suffered a heart attack soon after.

Aidan and C.J. are attracted, but C.J. tries to discourage any romance between them. She knows that her job as a Secret Service agent is dangerous and Aidan will not be able to handle it. Meanwhile, O’Neil family problems proliferate. Liam, a widower, misses having a wife and partner and is having difficulty with his children. Bailey’s past as an anti-gang activist may be endangering her life and the lives of her family. Aidan is still conflicted over his career goals.

The plethora of O’Neil family problems is a drawback to Close to You. A romance requirement is that there be conflict between the hero and heroine. There’s ample conflict in Close to You, but little of it is between the hero and heroine. The dispute over C.J.’s job fails to sustain sufficient attention and interest for a full-length book. A greater issue is who is threatening Bailey, a subplot carried over from the previous book. C.J. and Aidan sometimes get lost in the crowd.

Kathryn Shay is a talented author with an impressive backlist. Her characters are sympathetic and behave in credible ways. Not all of her books, however, are of the same caliber. Close to You is one of her less impressive efforts. It’s well paced with a decent plot, but it lacks the intensity of some of her other books. I read Promises to Keep (a TRR five-heart keeper) several years ago and still remember many of the details of plot and characters. I read Close to You two weeks prior to writing this review, and many of the details are already fading. It didn’t help that I found Liam and his situation more interesting than the main plot involving Aidan and C.J..

The narrative of Close to You flows smoothly. The O’Neils and their friends are nice people worth knowing; there will be more episodes in the series in the future. Even if it isn’t one of the author’s best, this could still be a good choice.

--Lesley Dunlap

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