NetGalley Review: “The Close-Up” by Sarah Smith

Series: I Heart SF #1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: April 5th, 2022

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Simon Rutler is the perfect man.

Handsome, kind and smart—Simon is amazing. Naomi Ellorza-Hays might be fresh out of a bad relationship and determined to stay single, but Simon is testing her newfound relationship ban. Good thing they’re working together. Simon may be perfect, but he’s also off-limits.

There’s just one small—well, big—problem.

Simon works as a relationship therapist, specializing in helping men better support their partners. But Naomi can’t stop thinking about how she was first introduced to Simon…as the camguy she watched in college. Filming him for her new docuseries suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Their relationship is…complicated.

Determined to stay professional, Naomi refuses to give in to their sizzling chemistry—until she does, and even then, it’s strictly no strings attached. Until it’s not. And Naomi realizes that maybe things between her and Simon aren’t so complicated after all.


I so badly wanted to like this book, but there were so many things stopping me from really enjoying it. I loved the representation, Simon’s college “job” and the slow burn of their relationship. But I found that Simon felt a little unrealistic? Does that make me jaded because here’s this guy who is literally perfect—he’s sex-positive and understanding and accepting of flaws and faults, he only sees the good in people and he steps back to let Naomi deal with her problems alone—and I’m thinking that people like Simon don’t really exist in the world. Simon’s biggest flaw is that he’s perfect and that weighed on me through the book.

Told entirely in first person, through Naomi’s perspective, The Close-Up is a really interesting romance with a fun plot and intriguing characters. Naomi’s giving up on romance and love after catching her boyfriend cheating on her, except the same night she’s getting drunk with her cousin-slash-best friend, she approaches an incredibly handsome stranger. They flirt, he charms her and they have a good time till Naomi realises who the man is—a cam guy from her college days. The very same guy Naomi and her friends watched having sex with his partner at the time and in the process of registering this, she upchucks onto his shoes and thus begins a strange relationship.

Naomi and Simon’s relationship is a combination of forced proximity, forbidden and a one bed situation, tied together with a workplace romance of sorts. As a well known and popular relationship therapist, Simon has been helping couples and people find their way through complicated relationships. Thanks to helping Naomi’s boss with her marital problems, she wants to feature Simon as part of a new web series. Which puts Naomi and Simon together. They keep things professional at first, but it’s hard for Naomi to look past what she knows of Simon and given that every time a video goes up of Simon from the web series, people recognise him as the cam guy (because that made him famous too) and Naomi can’t avoid this in any way. But their relationship builds and they become friends, they connect with each other’s friends, they meet each other’s families—it’s all very relationshipy, but without the actual benefits of being in a relationship.

The chemistry between them was a little lacking and I don’t know if it’s because we never see Simon’s side of things or because they both end up dating other people. Yes, we’re told they’ve got chemistry, but I didn’t really feel it and I was sad about that. Because I could see just how much these two liked each other, but so much stopped me from rooting for them. I was actually rooting for Naomi to have a good and happy single life, because she deserves it after everything she’s dealt with in terms of past relationships.

While a fun read and enjoyable in parts, this is definitely not my favourite Sarah Smith book. But I’m still looking forward to seeing what the other books in this series might be like!

Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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