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Book CoverStevie‘s review of The Nearness of You by Dorothy Garlock
Historical Women’s Fiction published by Grand Central Publishing 11 Jul 17

Having enjoyed my first book (out of an extensive bibliography) by Dorothy Garlock, I decided to give her latest one a go too. Once again set in 1950s small-town USA, this story features a very different hero and heroine, although, as before, the heroine is a local while the hero, as well as his sidekick, is a temporary visitor. We also get younger protagonists than previously – not always a bad thing, much as I prefer my more mature heroes and heroines – and a completely different family set up for the heroine.

Librarian Lily Denton has been brought up by her overprotective father, the mayor of Hooper’s Crossing, since her mother’s unexpected death when Lily was six. Although she dreams of moving away to New York, Lily turns down her most promising opportunity, allowing her best friend to drive off and explore life in the big city alone. Soon, though, Lily is caught up in the preparations for the town’s annual fall festival, an event in which her father is heavily involved, and which promises to bring tourists from all over the country, including this year a journalist and photographer from New York-based Life magazine.

Boone Tatum is a successful and admired photographer with Life, who is preparing for another high-profile overseas trip, when he gets into trouble while trying to get the perfect shot of a view close to his home. As penance, his editor sends him to Hooper’s Crossing, accompanying an inexperienced – and quite annoying – young reporter. Boone is not best pleased, even though he’s glad that for once he can take his beloved dog away with him; however, his feelings about the town change when he meets Lily during her lunch break.

Boone and Lily are very taken with each other, but she has also caught the eye of another visitor: one of a pair of crooks planning to rob the town’s bank at the height of the festival. The smitten criminal is soon falling out with his older companion, who is keen that they should lie low until the day planned for the robbery, because he’d rather go back into town for another chance at meeting Lily. Things get even more complicated when the younger crook realises that a photo Boone took of Lily may also feature his face in the background. And so the robbery plans get ever more tangled around Boone and Lily’s budding romance.

I wasn’t as keen on this book as I was on Garlock’s previous one. The characters felt rather too immature and unfinished, and I couldn’t get excited about either the town or the festival, much less the robbery subplot. If I decide to try the author again, I suspect I’m going to look very closely at what the blurb has to say about all the main characters.

Stevies CatGrade: C


Hooper’s Crossing, New York, 1952. The post-war boom seems a million miles away . . . especially for a sheltered librarian who longs for the adventure and excitement of the big city.

New York City. The hustle and bustle. The people and the excitement. It’s all Lily Denton dreams about. But ever since her mother died, her overprotective father won’t ease up on her. So she spends her days working at the library and her nights hoping life doesn’t pass her by . . . until the Fall Festival. As tourists fill the streets, the crisp autumn air sneaks in-as does the thrill of a far more dangerous kind.

Some men have a gift for avoiding trouble. Professional photographer Boone Tatum isn’t one of them. In fact, that penchant for trouble is exactly what landed Boone in this small town in the middle of nowhere in the first place. Yet the moment he meets beautiful Lily Denton and snaps her photograph, everything changes. Suddenly leaving is the furthest thing from Boone’s mind-or his heart.

But danger has slipped silently into this sleepy town, marking Lily as its own. And Lily and Boone’s dream of a life together is thrown into peril-unless Lily finds the courage to stand up for herself and a man she only just met . . . and can’t live without.

Read an excerpt.