Touched ~ A. J. Aalto

  • Title:  Touched
  • Author:  A. J.Aalto
  • Series:  The Marnie Baranuik Files #1
  • Genre:  Urban Fantasy
  • Format:  eBook
  • Source:  Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Sonja
  • Rating:  2 out of 5

Description:  The media has a nickname for Marnie Baranuik, though she’d rather they didn’t; they call her the Great White Shark, a rare dual-talented forensic psychic. Twice-Touched by the Blue Sense–which gives her the ability to feel the emotions of others, and read impressions left behind on objects–Marnie also has a doctorate in preternatural biology and a working knowledge of the dark arts. She is considered without peer in the psychic community.

Then her first big FBI case ended with a bullet in one shoulder and a chip on the other, a queasy heart and a serial killer in the wind, leaving her a public flop and a private wreck. When the FBI’s preternatural crimes unit tracks her down at a remote mountain lodge for her insight on a local case, her quiet retirement is promptly besieged by a stab-happy starlet, a rampaging ghoul, and a vampire-hunting jackass in tight Wranglers. Marnie figures the only real mystery is which one will kill her first.

Too mean to die young, backed up by friends in cold places, and running with a mouth as demure as a cannon’s blast, Marnie Baranuik is about to discover that there’s no such thing as quitting time when you’re Touched.

Review:  Warning: unlike my usual reviews, this one has tons of spoilers. I simply cannot review this adequately without revealing *what* affected me.

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I am starting with the bad because . . . well because it is mostly what I remember as I look back on the book.

The Bad:  Marnie does the absolute stupidest things. And, it isn’t like she does them just once – even twice – she consistently repeats the same old stupid things. I mean, seriously, after the 4th time that she runs off by herself without telling any of the guys where she is going, and consciously leaves her gun in the car? She deserves what she gets.

The Mark Thing. I understand why, at the beginning, she does not want him around. I get it. But, when the entire ‘engaged’ thing is revealed as a hoax, why does she continue to hate on him? Yet, still lust him. Constantly. I hate him. Let’s have sex. I hate him. Let’s have sex. *rolls eyes*

The Henry Thing. When Marnie isn’t wanting to have sex with Mark, she wants to have sex with Henry. But, he won’t do it. And, then, when he acquiesces, it must be now, right now. And, how does this even work when one or the other of them is always asleep?

The Wes Thing. Strangely enough – this is the one that *really* bugged me. Her brother. Shows up. On Marnie’s doorstep. A ‘revenant’. From a family clearly not comfortable with the whole ‘undead’ situation. Having joined another ‘clan’. And he stays there? No reason is given as to *why* he made the decision to become a ‘revenant.’ No reason is given as to why he shows up on Marnie’s (and Henry’s) doorstep. No reason is given as to why he *stays* there. His entire existence is given no logic or point. It is like the author said to herself, ‘Oooh – I need a telepathic character to read Mark’s mind and let Marnie know that he wants to have sex with her all the time too. Let me put an undead brother on her doorstep!’ Really. Bugged. Me.

The Witchcraft. When I read an urban fantasy, I am ok with shifters, magic, paranormal and even, sigh, vampires. I do not like witchcraft. I am ok if it is ‘called’ something else – magic, sorcery – whatever – but witchcraft – with spells and pentagrams and other ‘witchy’ stuff – just goes against my personal belief system. Just me. I realize this. But, it is a roadblock for me.

The Good: I liked Marnie. Even though she has got to be one of the absolute stupidest heroines on the planet (or the next), I liked the way her brain worked (when she wasn’t thinking about sex with . . . well whomever was in the room.) Yes, she does stupid STUPID things. I’ve done way more than my fair share of stupid things. So, I could forgive her most of these. But, I did enjoy the tone with which the story was written.

The mystery. One of the best actually mysteries I have read recently in an Urban Fantasy. Most stories seem to revolve around the protagonist discovering some evil unleashed upon the (at least local) world and doing battle to do away with said evil. Few actually leave clues and that the reader can follow to pick up on exactly who the evil is. Ms. Aalto does a very good job of stringing the reader along for the big reveal near the end.

The world. The world developed here is totally intriguing. The relationship between the revenant and his ‘day sitter’ was fascinating. The gifts that this brings to both partners in the relationship was an interesting idea. And, the randomness of it . . . of course, this allows the author to bring whatever she desires to the party – but it is still clever.

I think, ultimately, my disgruntlement with this book is the unanswered questions. The only question it seems to answer is who did it? (Who killed the little girl.) But, when it comes to relationships and the people involved, we are left with a whole lot of nothing. Why is Henry resistant to sex with Marnie? Which one of these guys does Marnie really want? Why is her family so mad at her? Why on earth is Wes there? What about those pills? What is going on with Henry and Mark? How does Henry really feel about Marnie? Ugh. Nothing seems to move forward. Including the intelligence quotient of one Marnie Baranuik.

All in all – I am giving this one 2 stars. 2 solid stars. I originally felt that I might give it 3 with the love/hate falling right down the middle. Looking back, however, I decided all I remembered were the bad things and none of the good things and couldn’t justify the extra star to myself. If you cannot abide TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) heroines, seriously pass this one up. If witchcraft bothers you, skip it. If lust for absolutely no reason beyond lust bothers you, skip it. However. If you are able to tolerate all the bad, it actually ends up being entertaining. I will not be moving on in this series simply because of the witchcraft and the ‘lust’ triangle.