Isaac (Close to You, 2016) follows up her Tolkien-obsessed debut with a second novel, for fans of C.S. Lewis.
Emelia Mason wants to reinvent herself. She leaves behind a sordid past as a tabloid journalist in Los Angeles and moves to Oxford, England, in search of atonement after chasing a scandal that led to the death of a wealthy English socialite named Anita. With a new identity, Emelia gets a job with the charity Anita had founded, SpringBoard, determined to rebuild it after Anita’s death. Emelia, feeding a love of Narnia since her childhood, is also obsessed with wardrobes. She climbs into one in an antiques shop and subsequently falls out of it at the feet of Peter Carlisle, an Olympic rowing hopeful who happens to be in the same antiques shop looking for the perfect teacup to give his mother for her 60th birthday. After a brief exchange about The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Emelia and Peter can’t stop thinking about each other. It turns out Peter has his own connection to Anita and SpringBoard; Anita was his cousin, and he is on the Board of Directors of her charity. As Peter and Emelia begin working together on a fundraising ball, Emelia continues to hide the truth about her past as a tabloid journalist and her connection to Anita. This novel has its charms in its Oxford setting and its Narnia nerd-ism, but the plot relies too heavily on coincidence and then staggers along to an anticlimactic conclusion, lacking any of the magic, adventure, or tension of the classic novels it pays homage to. There is little chemistry between Emelia and Peter, making the novel feel less like an inspirational romance and more like a morality play.
Though the romantic sparks never take off, this novel might be worth a try for fans of Narnia and romance.