Just a Touch Away by JaeJust a Touch Away by Jae is an ice queen, age-gap, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, contemporary romance set in Portland, Oregon.

The power of touch melts an ice queen’s frosty facade.

Hannah Martin has an unusual job: she’s a professional cuddler. She has a giant heart and cares for her clients, but she hasn’t found that special someone to snuggle up with in her personal life.

Winter Sullivan is an aloof workaholic who isn’t looking for love. She’s built a fortress of ice around herself, would rather poke her eyes out than cuddle, and most definitely does not want to share her space with anyone.

When Winter’s estranged father dies, he leaves her with one last surprise: she and Hannah will inherit a building

together on the condition, that they live together for ninety-two days.

Winter is determined to hate Hannah but quickly realizes she isn’t what she expected. Thanks to a ridiculous doormat war, a cuddle dare from Winter’s half-sister, and a kiss in the most unusual of

places, the glacial walls around her heart begin to melt.

Will she be able to accept that love is just a touch away?

The Characters

Jenna: Hannah is a total sweetheart, and I was firmly on Team Hannah from the first minute. She’s kind, caring, compassionate, and an all-around wonderful human. Being a professional cuddler is what makes her feel complete and she loves helping her clients. Hannah has aphantasia which is the inability to form mental images that are not present which is why the power of touch and physical connection is such a major part of who she is. I was impressed by her backbone, going toe to toe with Winter often throughout the book. She could have easily slinked away and let Winter have her way, but she didn’t. Go, girl!   

Winter’s frosty facade, lack of social skills, and inability to be empathetic to others made it really difficult for me to connect with her in the beginning. She’s selfish, territorial, and entirely unwelcoming and I loved watching the frost begin to melt as the book progressed.

Hannah’s professional cuddler friends were a delight to get to know. Brooke, Winter’s half-sister, added another layer to Winter’s history.  Boy, their relationship was contentious.   

Victoria: Jenna, Jenna, Jenna. I’m absolutely team Winter from the moment she makes her entrance in the book. I’m a sucker for a gorgeous grump, and there’s a level of discomfiture about her that’s rather endearing. Jae provides her with a backstory explaining how her relationship with her father shaped the woman she is today. It also explains why she has touch aversion. I don’t know if I’d call her selfish, territorial, and entirely unwelcoming, Jenna. Perhaps I’ll go with prickly and socially awkward.

I agree, Hanna is precious. She’s got a generous soul that’s definitely infectious, and she’s got quite the backbone when pushed too far. I also thought her friend group was fun, and I’m hoping there’s going to be a story focusing on Winter’s sister, Brooke, and Hannah’s best friend, Valentina.

The Writing

Jenna: This book is written in third person, with the point of view switching between Winter and Hannah. It works well for this story because the reader is able to get inside each woman’s head to experience her thoughts, emotions, and motivations.

Victoria: One of the many things Jae does so well is create characters who have depth and substance. I never felt like I was just being told what kind of women Winter and Hannah are. She brings them to life with actions specific to them. Every time Winter stomped across a room, or abruptly closed a door in Hannah’s face, I got a deeper sense of how she operates. The same thing is true with Hannah. She’s very comfortable in her own skin. She naturally sits just inside Winter’s personal space and can’t help but touch her in ways showing her support and kindness.

The Pros

Jenna: Not only did I learn about professional cuddling (I’d love to get my hands on the “Cuddle Sutra”), but I also learned about aphantasia from this book. Having courtside seats to watch Hannah and Winter’s journey from enemies to friends to lovers was special. The doormat war added some comic relief in an otherwise tense and uncomfortable time for our mains. Bravo to Jae for adding that bit of humor!

Victoria: I completely agree Jenna. I’d never heard of aphantasia before, and I like how Jae portrayed touch aversion as something more than a personality defect. I too enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout the book. It’s a great gauge reflecting how Hannah and Winter’s relationship develops.

The Cons

Jenna: None for me

Victoria: None for me either.

The Conclusion

Jenna: Just a Touch Away by Jae is a delightful story about getting comfortable being uncomfortable, vulnerability, honesty, letting your guard down, and allowing someone in. It’s low angst, entertaining, and will leave you wanting to cuddle for the next two or three days. Also, Jae has written a bonus scene and a short story sequel to Just a Touch Away so make sure you sign up for her newsletter in order to get the goods!

Victoria: Just a Touch Away is typical Jae. It’s got all the elements that make for a satisfying romance. Opposites attract / enemies to lovers are two of my favorite tropes. I easily got comfortable in the world of this story and read it in one sitting. I’ve yet to read the short story sequel so I know what I’ll be doing after I hit “Send”. Jae fans will love this story and if Jae is a new-to-you author, this is a great opportunity to jump in and get familiar with her writing.

Excerpt from Just A Touch Away by Jae

Mr. Woodruff cleared his throat, interrupting the awkward silence. “More than neighbors, actually.”

Hannah had nearly forgotten he was still there. Now she turned toward him and gave him a questioning look.

He lifted the folder in his hand. “Mr. Lambert left a letter of wishes to let me know how he wanted the trust to be administered. He intended for the two of you to share his apartment on the top floor, if that’s okay. It comes with an office, and I believe the den could easily be converted into a workspace for you, Hannah.”

Had Jules told him what she did for a living? More importantly, did Winter know?

“Wait,” Winter said. “You want us to work from here? I thought I’d work at my place, then come over in the evenings and sleep here.”

“Um, should we go in and talk upstairs?” Mr. Woodruff asked. Winter didn’t move an inch.

“Here’s fine.” She pierced him with an impatient glare and waved at him to explain himself.

“Your father made it very clear in his letter of wishes that he meant for this to be your primary residence, not just a place to sleep for a few hours.” He looked back and forth between them. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“No,” Hannah said immediately. “No problem at all, provided Winter doesn’t mind my having clients over and my clients are comfortable coming to a home I’m sharing with someone.” She didn’t think any of her clients would mind, and for her, having a cuddling area that was a room of its own, not only a sectioned-off part of her bedroom, would be a wonderful luxury.

The lawyer looked at Winter.

“Just peachy,” Winter said through pinched lips. “Shall we?” Without waiting for a reply, she led the way toward the double doors, her stride confident and purposeful, as if she owned the building.

Well, she did…or at least would own half of it soon. Hannah still hadn’t gotten used to the thought that she would own the other half.

Was that why Winter was acting so coolly? Had she expected to inherit the entire building by herself?

Well, there wasn’t much Hannah could do about it, other than giving up her inheritance, and that was something she definitely wouldn’t do. An apartment of her own was a dream come true, and the extra income from the rent the tenants paid meant she could focus on her cuddling business without having to supplement her income by working as a massage therapist.

She and Winter would have to find a way to make the best of it.

Who knew? Often, those clients who came across as standoffish at first later turned out to be the biggest cuddle bugs. Maybe Winter would be the same.

Ahead of her, Winter pushed through the double doors like a battlefield surgeon ready to take off someone’s limb.

Okay, maybe not.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9783963247132

Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Jae Online

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