His Forbidden Touch
This is the second consecutive American historical I’ve reviewed, and I could really go for a duke or a billionaire right about now. At first glance, His Forbidden Touch seems to have a lot going for it: a reunion between first loves, a suspenseful subplot, a lady doctor. The execution, however, is an unremarkable, repetitive trip down the well-worn path forged by other writers.
As the story begins, Dr. Mariah Lowe has returned to her hometown of Coffee Creek, Indiana, to take over her deceased father’s practice. It is not a happy homecoming for Mariah, first because she feels she’s living in the shadow of her father and also because Jake Sullivan is there. Mariah and Jake were very much in love until a Big Mis tore them apart. Mariah has successfully avoided Jake until there is a tragic explosion in the nearby quarries. One of the men Mariah treats tells her the explosion was not an accident, and she sets off to convince Jake (who owns half the mining company) and the rest of the town that there is foul play afoot.
Every time Mariah and Jake are within ten feet of one another, they argue (Is it because they live in Coffee Creek? Are they all highly caffeinated?) Mariah can’t calmly express her concerns to Jake; she has to say “I think you would want to find the cause, so you could prevent such tragedies form happening again, or is finishing the road more important than your workers’ lives?” Of course, Jake goes on the defensive and says “You don’t know what you are talking about.” In this case, one could argue that they are both upset, but this happens again and again and every argument ends with kissing, someone stomping off indignantly, or both.
Later there is a sequence where Jake has burned his upper thigh and Mariah must come face to face with his (insert preferred purple term here) every day to change the bandages. Naturally he is all proud and alpha about it, she blushes and averts her eyes and squeaks “Same time tomorrow?” And the reader realizes that they are only halfway through the book.
I would like to tell you about Mariah and Jake, but there isn’t much to go on. We know that Mariah is a caring competent doctor who has never gotten over Jake. And we know Jake is a stoic rugged type, a responsible guardian to his siblings – who has never gotten over Mariah. You never learn what makes them tick as people. It’s hard to have any sympathy or respect for them either, Mariah is a professional most of the time, but when Jake is around her she alternates between swooning and screeching. Jake spends a lot of time musing about how he lost Mariah. When he gave her up it was supposed to be a great selfless gesture but in reality he was just shooting himself in the foot. The villain of the story seems to have defected from a James Patterson novel: he’s a scary guy who enjoys inflicting pain on himself and makes dogs bark at his mere presence. Couple that with the fact that he’s not the brightest bulb, and it’s not difficult for the reader or the characters to figure out his next move.
I can ‘t think of any reason to recommend this book; the couple is indistinguishable from thousands of others. The mystery subplot can be unraveled by page 20. The writing, while not the worst I’ve seen, relies on melodramatic phrases like “She would have to find a way to bury those bitter feelings or they would bury her” to build suspense. It’s not the worst book I’ve read but it’s completely forgettable, and with so many demands on our time, why bother with something that won’t make an impression?
|Review Date:||January 29, 2001|