When I read To Touch You, I didn’t realise it was part of an established series, so I can honestly say that it can be read as a stand-alone novel despite being the fourth book in the Mates Collection.
This is the story of a wolf shifter finding his ‘true mate’ at a very young age. The mate in question is a human in his late thirties, which gave me pause for thought, but don’t worry – there is a twist that negates any ‘ickyness’ factor. I will return to this point at the end of this review though.
Seven-year-old wolf shifter Yoram Smith, first meets his ‘true mate’ outside a diner in his home town. Being only seven, he doesn’t know why this man feels like his friend, or why he has a desperate need to know his name. The man in question is rich entrepreneur Salvatore Rossi, who is looking to buy the shifter pack’s land at a knockdown price. Yoram’s family have a slight inkling as to why the boy is acting possessively towards this stranger, but choose to ignore it. Yoram’s uncle Ethan and his mate, the charismatic and strong Miguel, make it clear the land is not for sale.
Ironically, Salvatore’s second visit to Yoram’s hometown is because he is dying from Leukaemia and hopes that Miguel – a vampire – can save him. When Miguel and Ethan respond to the message to return to the pack’s town, they inform Salvatore that the only way to save him is by turning him into a vampire. The large Smith shifter family – and Miguel – are not keen to do so.
However, the impassioned words and pleas of the little boy, Yoram, save Salvatore’s life by convincing Miguel to turn him. As the years go by, Yoram hears nothing from Salvatore and a disastrous visit when he is fourteen convinces Yoram that Salvatore wants nothing to do with him. Of course, destiny steps in and both men realise that they do physically need each other.
For nine years, Yoram draws blood from himself, takes it secretly to Las Vegas in blood bags, and leaves it outside Sal’s door. Although it is the physical need for this blood that eventually brings Salvatore back to Yoram’s home town, he finds far more than food to keep him there.
Salvatore’s world changes once again when he meets the now twenty-seven-year-old Yoram, a grown man and the Alpha of a failing wolf pack. Yoram is still devoted to his true mate. However, he is now Alpha of his pack, and has responsibilities. He must devote his time to saving the ailing pack; can he succeed in being there for his pack and his mate?
This is a gentle romance between two species, as well as two men. Neither fact is looked kindly upon by shifter law and so there is a lot to overcome. To Touch You isn’t a wolf-fights-vampire blood-fest. Yoram is such a genuinely nice person that I don’t think the reader could bear it if anything bad happened to him. Salvatore starts to improve as a character as the novel progresses, but I found him generally too distant and two-dimensional, and just didn’t think he was good enough for Yoram.
To return to the issue of age difference in paranormal romance. Although this could be seen as a May to December type romance, age seems to go out of the window when a vampire is involved. The author is very sensitive about anything that could be seen as inappropriate and nothing untoward is even hinted at.
I did enjoy reading To Touch You; it is an easy, gentle read with little angst and fairly steamy sex scenes where tenderness and caring is nicely intertwined with the physical acts. Oh, and do watch out for the shifter essential, the ubiquitous ‘love-knot’ which, although it sounds painful, does ensure the men have to cuddle after sex!
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