Early in Julie Leto’s Phantom’s Touch I thought I was mistakenly reading an erotica novel, not a paranormal romance, for the hero and heroine barely said “Pleased to meet you,” before they were rolling around naked. I was not ready for their relationship to progress so far, so fast – it made me feel creepily voyeuristic, which is not a feeling I like. After this unpromising start (erotica not being my cup of tea), I did not have much hope for the rest of novel, but I was pleasantly surprised, because I did end up enjoying the book once I got to know the characters.
Aiden Forsyth and his brothers are trapped in various possessions of Rogan, who was a powerful gypsy sorcerer back in 1747. Aiden’s prison is Rogan’s sword. Ross Marchand, coming into possession of it, gifted the sword to his wife but kept it locked away during their marriage, refusing to give it to her after the divorce. So Lauren steals it.
As action-adventure heroine, Athena, in a successful movie series, Lauren wants to use it in her upcoming film. She plans to make a demo tape with the sword, but when she finally takes it in hand, weird things begin to happen and she blacks out. When she comes to, there is a man with her, a man who claims he came from the sword. When Lauren touched the sword, he was freed, but only during evening hours can he materialize in human form, otherwise he is as ethereal as ghost.
Ross wants the sword back. His mounting financial difficulties make an offer from Farrow Pryce, a wealthy businessman who wants to buy the sword, seem heaven sent. Pryce is furious when he learns that Ross no longer has it. For him, the sword is his key to becoming the leader of a clandestine group who are followers of Rogan, and he is totally ruthless going after it. Also, two of Aiden’s brothers who have been freed of their own enchantments are trying to foil Pryce’s plans by getting to sword first.
Lauren was an L.A. street kid when Ross found her, and began to mold her into a Hollywood A-lister. Her marriage was neither happy nor healthy and has left her with emotional scars, but she is fighter (physically and mentally) and she is trying to establish a career of her own making. As much as she wishes she could help Aiden be free of his prison, her commitment to her career takes priority.
Aiden was a warrior who wearied of killing after taking part in the Battle of Culloden. When he awakens in Lauren’s world, he uses his soldier instincts to protect her as best her can, in both his ghostly and solid selves. (The ghostly ones are actually funny and lightened the mood of the story.) However, no matter how useful he is to Lauren in his present guise, he longs to be free of his confinement.
The book’s plot centers on who will get or keep the sword. Farrow Pryce was a so-so villain; I often felt he did not react like an adult but rather behaved like a vicious, petulant child. He doesn’t really understand why the sword is important other than it once belonged to the gypsy leader, Rogan. One point in his favor, though: his confrontation with Aiden was one of the best and funniest moments of the book.
Several of the sex scenes bothered me, maybe because they were sex scenes and not love scenes. The first one happened too quickly in the narrative to know the characters well enough to be rooting for them to get together. I think I actually would have preferred it if Aiden had been impotent during his confinement. There was another scene that took place between minor characters that was rather degrading to both participants and again left me feeling like an unwilling voyeur. Lauren also relates a humiliating early encounter with her ex-husband. All together the author’s use of sensuality was a bit more depressing than enjoyable.
If these types of love scenes do not bother you, I can recommend Phantom’s Touch. But if they are not to your taste either, it might be best not to read it.