Dafina, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4967-1600-2
Contemporary Romance, 2018
The first chapter of Elle Wright’s Touched by You is the most interesting thing about it. Carter Marshall’s wife and kid were killed in a fire perpetuated by some kids on a dare. His wife called him during the barbecue, but he was too busy so the last thing the poor darling heard was her husband telling her to call again another time, beep. Worse, he only discovered the missed call hours after the tragedy, and became unhinged after listening to his wife’s final message telling him that she loved him. He subsequently used espionage and hacker stuff to destroy the kids behind the crime when the law wouldn’t touch them.
That sounds like a great story, right? Well, tough if you are hoping for something like that here, because this one is basically a Kimani story padded a little bit more for the author to sell this book to Dafina. The angst in the first chapter is subsequently reduced to Carter whining that he can’t love our heroine Brooklyn Wells because that’s like cheating on his dead wife, when oddly enough this sure doesn’t stop him from vigorously copulating with our heroine when the opportunity arises. What, using a dead woman as an excuse to weasel out of a commitment? Come on, a romance hero will never do that!
Oh, the hero is portrayed as some young but super-successful elite software-guru, but don’t expect him to show any of that prowess in this story. This one is generic through and through, interchangeable with any generic contemporary romance with black characters, and that is perhaps singularly the worst thing about this one. The author sets up a gripping first chapter that promises something tantalizing, only to end up serving stale, same old oatmeal stuff.
Our heroine is Brooklyn Wells, another poor daughter of a tyrannical rich man who will do anything to ensure that she obeys his every dictate, including marrying someone so outright Assault McRapey in such an over the top way that he could star in his own adult version of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Consequently, our heroine needs the help of our hero and his family of sequel baits as well as our hero’s penis, which we all know is the best kind of therapy a woman can ever get.
But the bulk of Touched by You is talking. Lots of talking. He goes here, meets this fellow, and they talk. She goes there, meets this fellow, talks and talks. They meet one another, talk and talk. The next day, he goes somewhere else, meets someone else, talks some more; so does she; so do they. Oh, what’s in the next page? Another day, another freaking talk-heavy day. Everyone tells everyone else everything from their back stories to their feelings, because I guess everyone’s a therapist now. Secondary characters urge the heroine to quickly impale herself on that thing and ride it up and down, because that’s what they are written to do, and they
think so little of the heroine love the heroine so much that they tell her to sit on a brother’s bratwurst ASAP just because he has a hot body, right before they urge her to fall in love with him too, because we are all incapable of showing anything in a romance novel now. Just have the characters tell one another everything as a way for the author to tell the reader everything!
Once in a while, the heroine finds trouble and has to flail a bit before the whole thing gets resolved a page later. Try not to blink or you may miss all these exciting moments.
On the bright side, Brooklyn likes to take control during sex. On the other hand, the author makes sure that I am aware that there hadn’t been many lovers in the past for our heroine, even as she also makes sure that I know that Carter’s penis had been inside many, many, many women before it got stuck exclusively inside his now dead wife. It’s just the way things should be in a romance novel, folks – no double standards here, really. Oh, and Brooklyn of course lets Carter dominate her sexually, because that’s also how things are in romance novels. A woman’s place is always under the man, unless he graciously gives her permission to ride him like a horse or something, I suppose. Oh, and another downside: Carter’s bleating about cheating on a dead woman becomes singularly tedious and boring very early on, and he just won’t stop.
Touched by You is a super dull affair, full of tedious conversations punctuated by dead-on-arrival damsel-in-distress scenes now and then, while upholding antiquated double standards without trying to make these things palatable in a present day context. The only touching that matters here is my finger against the book, pushing it away from me.