The Touch of Fire
Annie Parker is a doctor, skilled, compassionate, lonely. Rafe McCay is an outlaw, wounded, dangerous, a loner. Keeping folks alive is Annie’s business; just staying alive is Rafe’s. She’s soft and responsive; he’s rough and unyielding. A dating service would never have put these two together, but, lucky for us, Linda Howard did.
Annie’s the daughter of a doctor, and being a doctor herself has been her only goal in life. However, as a woman, she’s been forced to practice a-way out West in Silver Mesa, Arizona, because the town thinks having a woman doc’s better than having no sawbones at all. But Annie’s healing is a special kind, so special, she’s not even aware of it. It takes a special man to notice that fact.
Framed for murder, wounded Rafe McCay kidnaps Annie, at gunpoint of course, so he can have his own personal physician to keep him alive while he runs from bounty hunters and lawmen. And tries to find a way to prove his innocence. To get her to do what he wants, Rafe virtually terrorizes Annie, and we wonder if this man has any kind of compassion in him at all.
Once he gets a good look at Annie, Rafe realizes he’s been on the run way too long, and begins a single-minded seduction that will keep you turning those pages, and howdy. Fearing she will leave while he’s asleep, he makes her remove her clothes – while he watches just to make sure she does it right – figuring she won’t try to escape into the cold Arizona mountains, barefoot, wearing nothing but her thin chemise. Ah, where would romance novels be without those thin little chemises tempting our heroes beyond their abilities to control themselves (and where can I get one)?
Brute that he is, Annie realizes there’s more to Rafe than meets the eye (and what meets the eye is extremely hunky), and she begins to fall in love with him. She awakens the first morning after they’ve made love, to see Rafe quietly warming her undies in front of the fire, so she won’t have to put on freezing cold clothing. That’s it – only a man a woman could love would do something so thoughtful, and she’s a goner. After hearing Rafe’s story, she begins to believe in his innocence, and joins forces with Rafe to try to prove it, and get all those wanted posted taken down.
Rafe realizes Annie’s healing powers have more to do with the woman herself than anything she learned in medical school. When she is at a loss as to how to save a desperately sick Indian child, it is Rafe who convinces her to let her natural healing powers come to the fore to save the dying baby. A secondary character, an honest lawman who’s close on Rafe’s trail, plays a pivotal part in helping Rafe and Annie solve the crime and set things right again.
The Touch of Fire is a good yarn, is well-paced, and very sensual. The only real problem I had was, for a woman who has survived the rigors of being the only woman in medical school, losing her father, moving out West, establishing a medical practice on her own, and, as a doctor, supposedly understanding the basics of human sexuality, Annie seemed very naïve at times. At any rate, I enjoyed The Touch of Fire, and I think you will, too.