Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Kandi Steiner’s Close Quarters is more than its blurb. It’s a story about manifesting your life. Her heroine, Aspen, is at a crossroads, having just graduated college and ready to find her place in the world. Seemingly content with her boyfriend and the possibility of a future, she knows that she’s missing something. Theo Whitman is a young billionaire who has gifted Aspen the opportunity to spend the summer on his superyacht with her boyfriend, who is employed by Theo. As the summer progresses, Theo teaches Aspen to love herself first before sacrificing parts of herself for others. Slowly, Aspen and Theo fall further for each other, but Aspen’s boyfriend complicates the situation. Are Aspen and Theo meant to be?
When you read the blurb for this book, you might think Indecent Proposal. But it is hardly that. Steiner has written a beautiful tale about loving yourself first so that you can live a more abundant life on your own terms. Through the specter of photography (Aspen is a photographer), Steiner points to this message as Aspen acts as more spectator than active participant. Through Theo, Aspen manifests more possibilities for herself. It’s a reminder to dream big and trust in yourself.
First and foremost, what I love about Close Quarters is Steiner’s meticulous building of Theo and Aspen’s chemistry. Given that Aspen has a boyfriend at the story’s beginning and middle, Steiner is so careful in crafting the attraction between Theo and Aspen. Steiner makes it feel dangerous within boundaries, and you can’t help but love the thrill of this couple finding their way to each other. Honestly, this book feels like a slow-burn, as any next turn of the page could lead to combustion between Theo and Aspen.
Additionally, there is a cinematic quality to this story. The images that Steiner crafts into her Aspen and Theo’s story make them visceral. You can “see” various moments within her book because she’s careful in drawing them for her reader.
Even more, I distinctly realized in Close Quarters Steiner’s capacity as a wordsmith to generate dialogue. There are times when you read a book and the dialogue doesn’t go far enough, or it’s too staid. With this book, the conversations of her characters, namely Theo and Aspen, feel natural and help progress the story.
Add to all of this a hero and heroine whom you can’t help but adore. I mean, Theo is the definition of alpha, swoony hero. Aspen counters his dominance with a gentleness that makes her instantly likable and necessary for this story. As she falls further into her attraction to Theo, her strength of character draws you even closer to her character.
Close Quarters has so many wonderful elements to it: a compelling story, a compelling couple, and a compelling style. Kandi Steiner has once again reminded readers why her books are definite one-click wonders.
In love and romance,