|Close to You is the closely connected sequel to Someone to Believe In. The hero and heroine of first book were Bailey OíNeil 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 authorís Promises to Keep.
Aidan OíNeil is Baileyís brother. He meets C.J. when his family assembles at the hospital following Baileyís and Aidanís fatherís 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, OíNeil family problems proliferate. Liam, a widower, misses having a wife and partner and is having difficulty with his children. Baileyís 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 OíNeil family problems is a drawback to Close to You. A romance requirement is that there be conflict between the hero and heroine. Thereís ample conflict in Close to You, but little of it is between the hero and heroine. The dispute over C.J.ís 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. Itís 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 didnít 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 OíNeils and their friends are nice people worth knowing; there will be more episodes in the series in the future. Even if it isnít one of the authorís best, this could still be a good choice.