Release Date: February 18th, 2021
Menacingly handsome and unquestionably powerful, Theo Whitman need only snap his fingers to have a flock of supermodels fall at his feet. So when his steel gray eyes first meet mine, I expect him to pass right over me, to not give so much as a second thought to my presence.
Instead, he sees me.
Truly sees me.
And for a girl who prefers to hide behind her camera lens, it’s the most unnerving experience of my life.
Until he asks me to stay on his yacht for the summer.
All I have to do to earn my keep is be Theo’s on-call photographer when he has guests, and I’ll get a free ride through the Mediterranean with my boyfriend. Easy peasy.
Still, my skin prickles in warning when I say yes.
As the humid days fade into balmy nights, I can’t seem to avoid Theo. And when he finds me, it’s like a rabbit running into a wolf.
His intense gaze immobilizes me. The way he speaks strips me bare. Every brush of his skin sears me like a violent flame.
My boyfriend’s billionaire boss always gets what he wants.
And this time, I think he wants me.
“I’m feverish when I’m around him, and yet I’m addicted to the heat.”
It pains me to rate a Kandi Steiner book this low, but unfortunately, Close Quarters didn’t make me feel the way her other books have. I loved the premise, the setting and the characters – but you know what was missing? Angst. I expected a lot more angst given the plot, but it just didn’t match up and the more I think about it, the more I realise that I went into this expecting a lot of that.
When it comes to Kandi Steiner’s books, one thing that I’m always certain I’m going to feel is a sense of being transported to another place. Her descriptions and settings are always so beautifully written that you are no longer on your couch with your kindle and your fingers coated in Cheetos dust. You are where the character is. And in Close Quarters, Aspen gets to go to parts of Europe I’ve only ever dreamt about and that whole adventure was absolutely brilliant. But that’s not all, the experience of being on a yacht and seeing the world through Aspen’s eyes was perfect. I can always count on Kandi to provide that fantastic distraction from real life.
Aspen Dawn is spending the summer with her boyfriend and while her plan is to go around Europe taking pictures and building her portfolio, she’s asked to join the crew of the yacht her boyfriend is working on because why not? The billionaire who owns it – Theo Whitman – is clearly captivated by Aspen and he wants to keep her around. Aspen and Joel have the usual college relationship – they met as freshmen and have been together ever since. Every summer they spend time apart and then reunite at college. Joel’s been working on boats for a while and to work on Theo’s boat is definitely the dream come true.
But being on the boat together starts to put a strain on their relationship. Aspen is an introvert and she’d rather stay locked up in their stateroom rather than party every night, but that’s what Joel wants. And the more he pushes her away because she’s not doing what he wants to do, the more Aspen turns to herself for stability. And in the process, to Theo.
“Every cell in my body zinged to life like a million stars burning out at once, like the brightest night becoming one giant black hole. I no longer existed but as the woman in Theo Whitman’s arms. I no longer cared to be anything but the source of every pleasure he would feel for the rest of his life.”
We only ever see him through Aspen’s eyes since the book is written in single, first person PoV, but he’s your sexy, smart, handsome billionaire. The difference is, Theo is a pretty decent guy. He’s not messing around with Aspen, even though it’s clear he wants her. He just sits back and watches, but doesn’t touch. It can be a little unsettling at times, but somehow, it draws Aspen in even more. As the blurb states, Theo wants Aspen, but he’s not going to make her cross that line unless she wants it. So there’s a lot of flirting and teasing and Theo showering Aspen with tons of attention, but it never goes beyond that.
I know the blurb makes it sound like cheating, but it’s not really cheating in that sense. Yes, Aspen is drawn to Theo because he’s kind and generous and he’s spending a lot of time with her. But nothing really happens till she and Joel end things. Which is so messy and dramatic and I kinda loved it. I mean, Joel was a disaster from the beginning and I think even without the existence of Theo, I would have been ready for Joel to be gone.
Aspen and Theo’s relationship felt like it was lacking something and while it was a delicious slow burn, once they had the chance, everything seemed to happen so fast. I felt like I was missing things in the story because I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening and why it was all happening at such a pace. Theo is definitely a better option for boyfriend than her ex, but I didn’t really connect with him and I was really upset about that. I mean, I know he’s a billionaire, but he didn’t really have anything unique about him as far as billionaires go except that he wasn’t a bully or he didn’t treat Aspen like dirt before they took that next step.
“And you are the life I’ve been waiting to live.”
All said and done, while this book didn’t give me the feels I was hoping for and wasn’t one I loved, Kandi Steiner’s writing is still impeccable. She’s a master with words and knows how to suck you into the book with just her talent. This is what I’ve always loved about her books – the wonderful way in which she crafts her story with the right words, the right twists and turns. I’m a Kandi Steiner fan for life and I am eagerly looking forward to more of her wonderful stories!
Thanks to Kandi Steiner and Valentine PR for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.