Book Review: Close to Her Heart by C.J. Carmichael


Close to Her HeartThe third book in the “Carrigans of the Circle C” series, “Close to Her Heart” brings the readers to Seattle, Washington where Dani Carrigan is a Psychology professor and researcher at the University of Washington.

And to paraphrase an old Texas saying, “you can take a girl out of Montana, but you cannot take Montana out of her.” Because, though Dani has a full life in Seattle, she finds herself looking east as she thinks of her hometown Marietta and her home, the Circle C Ranch.

Then, life just got complicated for Dani. She found herself pregnant and the baby’s father Adrian Carlson was ambivalent at best in his feelings towards Dani. So, how could she tell him she was pregnant and there is a possibility that the baby is “not perfect”.

To make the situation more confusing, Dani finds support from an unlikely source – Elliot Gilmore, her neighbor and friend. And there is a spark between them.

Close to Her Heart” is masquerading as a romance, with an implied double love triangle; but it is much more than that. The subject of “terminating the pregnancy” because the baby might “not be perfect” is central to the story.

When Dani was agonizing whether to keep the baby or not, she thought about the politics of “pro-choice”. She was all for it, but then she also said that in the end it is not about politics. When you are faced with the decision, it becomes personal.

Close to Her Heart” is far from making a political statement. It is a romance novel first and foremost. Still, the author, C.J. Carmichael handled this explosive issue with sensitivity and making it a very big part of the story while staying true to the genre.

A beautiful story that tugs at your heartstring; you will fall in love with Dani and admire her strength.

“Close to Her Heart” is Rated M for Mature due to subject matter. There is one very mild sex scene in the book.


Dani Carrigan, the academic of the Carrigan family, has always relied on logic when making important life decisions. But when she discovers she’s pregnant—and that there’s a chance her baby may be born “not perfect”—deciding what to do isn’t so easy.

It would help if the father, Adrian Carlson, department head at the University of Washington in Seattle where they both work, would pop the question. But the widower seems more interested in protecting his six-year-old daughter than committing to his new relationship with Dani.

The last time Dani felt so alone and scared was when she was 16 and her mother died in an accident at their family ranch, leaving Dani to raise her younger sisters with precious little help from her distant and disapproving father. She felt so inadequate then. But is she any more prepared to be a mother now?

Support comes from an unlikely source. Dani always saw her next-door neighbour and friend, divorce attorney Elliot Gilmore, as a charming, handsome, playboy-type. But with each challenge Dani faces, from pregnancy, to delivery and beyond—Elliot reveals himself to be more of a man than she ever guessed. Is it possible that in all the years she’s known him, Elliot hasn’t been playing the field—but waiting for her?

Close to Her Heart is Book Three of the Carrigans of the Circle C series