Friday, February 29, 2008
Just One Touch, Debra Mullins
Every now and then, one single offering comes along that literally sweeps you off your feet and magically transports you to a shining world of compelling intrigue and brilliant romance. One book so wonderful that you devour it page by page, unable to put it down, delighting in the fanciful imagery and beautifully drawn characters. One book that you hope never ends -- one that you will remember forever.
This is not that book.
I suppose I should qualify my statement and explain that I approach every book already half in love with it. I'm easy. I need very little to push me over the edge on my way to total infatuation. As it happens, very few leave my love unrequited. But once in awhile I am reminded that love can be elusive. Enter Just One Touch.
Predictably, the story takes place in Regency England. We are immediately introduced to the main character, Rogan Hunt, the second son of minor nobility, who is forced by his father's excesses to make his own way in the world. Physically, Rogan is my type of romantic hero. He's tall with dark hair, a well honed physique, and gray (yes ladies, once again, gray) eyes. Sounds luscious. However, there is one tiny complication. Rogan has inherited the family curse. On the one hand, he is the 19th Century's embodiment of the Horse Whisperer and can tame the most unruly of stallions with just a simple Irish lullaby. However, along with his uncanny ability to seduce horses, Rogan has a vile, uncontrollable temper that is often unleashed at a moment's provocation. There is even a rumor that he has a murder under his belt. Can it be true?
Our lady of the story, Lady Caroline, is the daughter of a duke. It sounds like a nice gig, but our heroine is traumatized by a truly horrendous event five years before and as a result, has been sequestered away on her father's grand estate. If that's not bad enough, Lady Caroline suffers from extreme panic and anxiety attacks and steers clear of all men. These two make for quite an interesting pair.
And a pair they become. Fate, as usual, throws them together in a marriage of convenience arranged by the ailing Duke. And, to add to the fun, there is a deadly threat hovering over the ducal seat. And herein lies the rub. We are not granted the privilege of unraveling the source of the villainous doings on our own as the Duke, Rogan and Caroline quickly reveal all to us while revealing all to each other. With apologies to Bonnie Raitt, there's no little something to talk about, no little mystery to figure out. A shame, that, because despite popular belief, I really do appreciate a good plot. And once the sexual tension is also hastily relieved, well, then what really is the point?
In the author's defense, there are some good moments. Watching a gentle Rogan help his lady overcome her fears and coax her out of her anxieties is touching, albeit somewhat unrealistic, unless you are a true believer in the power of love. And speaking of the power of love, I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention that Rogan is very skilled in the art of pleasing a woman, making the love-smut worth reading. However, while those scenes are descriptive and very well written, the rest of piece is riddled with choppy dialog and uneven pacing.
As the book came to a predictable close, I thought about how much I wanted to fall in love. But we all know that sometimes it just ain't going to happen.