Erryn reviews ‘Touch of Love (Trials of Fear Book 3)’ by Nicky James. This book was released by the author on October 11, 2018, and is 251 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Adam Gold. It was released on April 10, 2021, and is 10 hrs and 5 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: The first two books in the series blew me away.
Ireland is convinced no one can love him when his boundaries include no touching.
With a fear of touch deeply ingrained in his core, Ireland has always floundered with love and relationships. All the therapy in the world doesn’t seem to help, and no one wants to love him broken like he is.
Raven’s patience and understanding seem genuine, but will he stick around when things slide backward? Because they always do. Can Raven accept Ireland’s limitations, or will he be like everyone else and leave in the end?
Touch of Love is a hurt comfort MM romance with moderate angst. It is part of the Trials of Fear series, but can be listened to as a stand-alone.
To read my review of Book 1, Owl’s Slumber, click here.
To read my review of Book 2, Shades of Darkness, click here.
Phobia: an extreme or irrational fear or an aversion to something
Haphephobia: the fear of touching or of being touched
If you know me, you know I love Nicky James. Especially her books where main characters have a mental illness. I write extensive reviews where I talk about how the book has impacted me. I’m going to *try* to keep this one shorter.
Wish me luck.
First, I completely related to both Ireland and Raven. Ireland might be the one with the phobia, but Raven has just as much to lose. Just as much to gain. Ireland has his reasons for being touch-averse. Only that phobia runs so much deeper. He goes into panic mode when anyone invades his personal space. Even his job as a nurse is barely tolerable because, frankly, nursing requires touching people. Whether taking a blood pressure reading or administering a needle or simply offering a reassuring squeeze, nurses rely on their interactions with patients to calm them.
Ireland has already been on leave several times because of his inability to cope. The first trigger came out of the blue and devastated him. He’s never really recovered. He’s also never really dealt with the underlying trauma. He’s in therapy, and I understood why he didn’t confront the reason for his beliefs – irrational as they are – but my heart ached.
The book begins with him breaking up with his girlfriend of two years. Julia is also a nurse and she knew what she was getting into when she moved in with Ireland. I think she thought she could fix him. Breakups are never pretty, especially when the life you’ve crafted is so meticulous. Faced with taking apart what they had put together, Ireland is flummoxed. Then the movers show up and he and Julia are still bickering. Now, Raven has seen just about everything as a mover, so he’s not really fazed. But he’s struck by Ireland’s beauty. And he senses depth to the man. But after it comes out that Raven’s gay, Ireland’s standoffishness gets interpreted as homophobia and it doesn’t look good.
Things aren’t always what they seem, and the next time they meet, Raven learns more about Ireland. The third time they meet, it’s on Ireland’s terms and Raven manages to convince the man to go out on a real date.
Thus begins the push and pull, parry and retreat, forward and backward, of this relationship. I wanted so badly for things to progress. Raven’s patience never wavered. Not once. That kind of love is precious. And Ireland’s a smart man. He was able to recognize it. But ingrained beliefs are tough to battle. Ireland is always convinced Raven will leave. And to compound things, Ireland has a physical ailment that requires self-care and if there’s one thing he’s not good at, it’s taking care of himself. But doing better for Raven becomes a thing. Seeing his therapist becomes a thing. Being brutally honest with both himself and Raven becomes a thing.
Then came the setback. I knew it was coming. Didn’t know what form it would take, but there was an inevitability to it. Didn’t stop my heart from breaking all over again. So the question was – could they build back better? Stronger? Or would there always be the physical distance as well as the threat of an emotional one as well?
Did I say I was going to write a short review? I lied. Big surprise.
Nicky James novels hit me where it hurts. As someone who struggles with a mental illness, I often see parts of myself in these characters. And although this book was written pre-pandemic, I think the lessons are even more profound. Will I ever be comfortable touching someone again? Having them touch me? Will I ever fall into a friend or relative’s arms and just enjoy the embrace without worrying? I think there are going to be a lot of people relating to Ireland’s dilemma. And that’s sad. That’s something that’s been taken away that we may never get back.
Two more quick things – several characters in this book appeared in previous ones and I always like those little cameos. Holds my interest. And finally I’ll mention Adam Gold. He’s fantastic as a narrator and these books suit him. A chance for him to both demonstrate his talent and to give us Ms. James’ words in an even more moving performance. There are more books and I look forward to them.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I live in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada and I am a mother to a wonderful teenage boy (didn’t think those words could be typed together…surprise) and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband, who thankfully doesn’t think I’m crazy.
I have always had two profound dreams in life. To fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world, not bogged down by technology and to write novels. Since only one of these was a possibility I decided to make the other come alive on paper.
I write mm romance novels that take place in fantastical medieval-type settings and love to use the challenges of the times to give my stories and characters life.