His Forbidden Touch
by Linda O'Brien, historical (2000)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81343-2

His Forbidden Touch is one of those books that have characters that come off absolutely unreal. Worse, their line of thinking seem to originate from the blurred boundaries between the Twilight Zone and the Black Hole. The heroine tries to be every romance heroine rolled into one, and the hero resembles a tree stump a bit too much for my liking.

Once, Mariah Lowe loves Jake Sullivan, but when Jake and her brother went on a fishing/boating trip that ended with her brother's death, she blames him for that. Jake stoically accepts blame, because in his reasoning, it is better for her to believe that her brother was perfect instead of knowing that his death was the result of a joke and drunken mischief gone awry.

I go "Huh?" here. But hey, some people are sensitive in strange ways, so who am I to say, right?

Today, Mariah is a doctor in Coffee Creek. Coffee Creek is an unpleasant place, because people keep dying in mines run by greedy, capitalist pigs. Mariah is asked to represent these poor folks, but she wouldn't. Not because she's a capitalist pig herself, but because she's scared of seeing Jake again.

But when she treats the victims of the latest mine fiasco, she stumbles upon Jake, who happens to run the mine. She calls him names, asks him to make things right, and he asks her to buzz off and mind her own business. Then Jake asks his men to see what's up with the latest fiasco.

I don't get it. Why on earth would he be so mean to her if he intends to do what she asks him to? Go figure.

Then, Jake decides he wants Mariah, he is sure she will forgive him even when he wouldn't tell her anything or everything. Yeah right, I snort. But to my dismay, she does just that. She even blames herself for blaming Jake, which is the main I can't have you even when I love you because I blamed you so unfairly, oh! conflict in the late third of the book.

What weirdos, I said then. The wimp and the tree stump, a couple made in heaven.

Despite the explosions in this story, there is no suspense. The author should stop telling me the entire plan of the villain by chapter two, because she is in effect diluting the suspense. With the romance completely devoid of chemisty, emotion, or sexual tension, there's very little left to savor in HFT.

Rating: 45

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