Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Setting: New Jersey
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Diagnosed with an extremely rare allergy to human contact, Jubilee Jenkins lives a very solitary life. When a kiss from a boy almost killed her, Jubilee left school, sequestered herself in her home, and hasn't set foot outside in nine years. News that her mother is dead and support checks will not longer be coming in forces Jubilee to go out into the world.

Jubilee's first contact is with a former high school classmate. Through her, Jubilee is able to get a job at the local library. It's that job that brings her into the world of Eric Keegan, a single dad who Jubilee can't help but want to get to know. However, Jubilee knows that her allergy will prevent her from every being able to get close to anyone. Can a relationship be worth it when those involved can never touch?

Close Enough to Touch creates a fictional allergy and spins a very poignant story. It's impossible not to route for Jubilee and Eric, though there really is no way for them to ever do more than talk. That leads the reader to wonder what can truly become of this friendship and possible romance.

I'm torn on the ending. Not that I can really say much without giving any spoilers, but it would have been challenging as an author to finish what the book started. There's the allergy that prevents any physical contact, the cravings Jubilee has always had to feel love or even just a hug from another person, and then Eric's bewilderment at the allergy and how anything could ever work out. With those key issues, I was hooked and wanted to know how it could possibly end for everyone.

My emotional attachment to Jubilee, Eric, Eric's adopted son, and even Jubilee's former classmate was strong. Now that it's over, I'm not sure I was ready for it to end. I'm left wanting more, a lot more!


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