Dangerous to Touch

Jill Sorenson
June 2008, Series Romance
Sil Romantic Suspense #1518, $4.99, 224 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373275889

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Hot

With Dangerous to Touch, Jill Sorenson takes the familiar device of the psychic heroine and creates a vivid story that I found quite intriguing. The suspense is intense and the talents and struggles of Sidney Morrow felt plausible. Though pacing flaws the book, this is an author to watch.

Sidney has reason to insulate herself from the world, and the opening chapter of the book shows readers exactly why. Sidney awakens, drawn to her dog kennel, where she finds a wary dog. Though Sidney owns a kennel business that allows her minimal contact with other people, normally wears gloves, and generally finds ways to prevent herself from having to touch anyone, she lets down her guard around the dog. As soon as she touches him, the images of the recent attack on his owner overwhelm her.

Sidney knows that the dog and his coat contain vital evidence to a missing persons investigation, but she also knows that her explanation will not be the most plausible. She tries to explain her finding of the dog to police without reference to her vision, but as the police realize that she has given them details she should not know, they start to suspect that she may have some tie to the crime.

Detective Marcos Cruz and his partner get a sealed warrant permitting them to conduct wiretaps and search Sidney's home. Though Sidney is a person initially under suspicion, Marc amazes himself by feeling protective of and attracted to her. Investigating Sidney and also using her claimed ability to assist in his case also gives Marc plenty of reason to be around her and the two give in to their feelings, even though a relationship between officer and suspect is not ethical.

The suspense plot centers around a search for a man preying on women whose only real common trait is that they own large dogs. The hunt for clues, the police following leads into dead ends and then having to backtrack and start over all feel real and keep the tension going. The mystery does not have an obvious solution from the beginning and this aspect of the book kept me guessing, even though the ending did not flow quite as smoothly as the first two thirds of the book. The drama surrounding some of the secondary characters also has lots of appeal.

The main problem in this book centers around the pacing of the romance. The heroine is flawed and vulnerable, but ultimately likable. The hero has issues the author does a good job of exploring, though she could have spent more time developing Marc's character without resorting to tired cliches such as the slut hero who jumps from one bed to the next with nary a thought. Ultimately, though, the romance is simply hard to accept. One can believe that Marc and Sidney have chemistry and that they feel attracted to each other. However, the jump from attraction and vivid mental lusting to what starts to seem like a nonstop sexfest in the space of less than a week strains credulity.

While the hero would have benefited from a little more care in development and the pacing of the romance defies belief, Dangerous to Touch still has its good moments. The suspense plot caught my imagination, and I loved seeing Sidney gather up the confidence to come into her own a bit more. With practice, this author could realize her potential, but this book is too uneven for me to recommend.

-- Lynn Spencer

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