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Introduction to the characters in the Touched series:
There is an annual mountain bike race close to where we live in South Africa. It’s called the Wine2Whales race because it begins in Lourensford, a lovely wine farm in Somerset West near Cape Town and ends close to Hermanus, a coastal village known for the whales that visit there from September each year. A newspaper article and a photo of a dirty, sexy cyclist was what brought Don Cavallo, the hero in Touched to the heart, to life.
I didn’t set out to write a series, but he has brothers who have joined him in his boutique hotel business and their stories begged to be told.
Dale is an architect and he is responsible for drawing up plans for new hotels, David used to be a journalist who is now responsible for the marketing of the hotels and Darryn, previously a sought-after fashion photographer, does all the photography for the brochures and website and he’s also responsible for the smooth running of all social media.
Don needs a physiotherapist during the mountain bike race and Caitlin Sutherland who has just opened her own physiotherapy rooms in Hermanus, is on duty, helping the cyclists during the race. In strolls the Cavallo brothers but it’s the oldest one, Don who has a problem with his back and once she puts her hands on him, it’s difficult to think of anything else – Touched to the heart
Zoe, one of Caitlin’s sisters, is an interior decorator. When Don becomes involved with Caitlin, he asks his brother Dale to get Zoe to do the interior decorating of their new hotel. Dale is hesitant, not only because he doesn’t trust anyone else with his plans, but also because Zoe Sutherland is way too distracting – Touched to the soul
Caitlin’s best friend Dana is trying to figure out what really happened to her dad. He was a financial planner who was taken into custody for questioning and the next thing, they were told he’d committed suicide. Ever since Don Cavallo has become a part of her best friend’s life, she keeps running into David Cavallo, one of Don’s brothers. Her bothers her but when she finds out he used to be a journalist, she knows she has to stay away from him as far as possible – Touched to the core
Hannah, Caitlin’s younger sister, is a well-known model. She met and fell for Darryn while he photographed her during a photo-shoot. They spent the night together but he was quick to believe another photographer’s lies about her and walked away from her and from the business to join his brothers hotel group. Hannah’s heart is broken and on top of that, she becomes aware that someone is out to hurt her and anyone else who is close to her. So when her sister falls for Don Cavallo and she keeps running into the guy who broke her heart, her life becomes very complicated. – Touched to the depths
The Sutherland sisters’ mother is a romance writer and is thrilled to bits about her daughters’ love lives. Suddenly she has so many ideas for new stories. Their dad walked out on them when they were little – something that has left a scar on each of them.
The Cavallo brothers are close to their parents. Their mother, Rosa, is a famous chef and has her own restaurant in Cape Town. This becomes the place where the Cavallos and the Sutherlands keep running into one another.
Touched to the Heart (Escape Press ~ July 1, 2014) ~ Goodreads
Touched to the Soul (Etopia Press ~August 6, 2015) ~ Goodreads
Touched to the Core (Etopia Press ~ November 4, 2015) ~ Goodreads
Touched to the Depths (Etopia Press ~ December 3, 2015) ~ Goodreads
Here is an excerpt for you to enjoy!
MEET & GREET!
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The tensions between humanity and the fae continue to get more dangerous and tense, with the werewolves in the unenviable position of being in the middle. Until a troll runs amok in the city, with the werewolves feeling the need to rush to their defence, especially since some of Mercy’s friends are being targeted by the fae
Mercy steps in – and in doing so draws a line in the sand to protect her people and her city. But in doing so she isolates them from the rest of the werewolves, the Marrock is unwilling to follow them to political ruin and possibly war with the fae. Mercy and Adam and their pack are alone to try and navigate the dangerous complexities of the different fae factions or be dragged into a war with no support.
This book brings in some interesting world building and development – not with the monsters, not with the new creatures or new magic – but with a whole lot of politics. I am glad to see the different factions of the fae – it’s usually so easy to present supernatural groups as a monolith, without differemnt factions (certainly without several different factions) that we would find among humanity. So seeing the fae, seeing the Grey Lords, actually struggling among themselves with their own agendas, their own conflicts and their own positions as well as some fae among them who are officially done with it all and want no more to do with the system. I even like the complexity of immortal relationships that Zee represents – with his honoured enemies he hated but respected.
It works nicely with the werewolf political position as well – as they try to find a balance between not being outright at war with the fae while also not allowing them to just run riot in their territory. The interactions between Mercy and the Marrock and Adam are all decently nuanced without masses of hurt feelings over political necessities. I really like how the pack is becoming strong because it is modern and progressive compared to the often backward and bigoted opinions of other packs and like how including non-werewolves as pack members or close to the pack is also bringing them new strength and options. The pack is better for its moving to the future rather than clinging to old ways even as it causes them political issues
I also like that Adam has kind of turned to his pack and told them to behave around Mercy. Kind of. I don’t know, we do have a prolonged history of members of the pack treating Mercy terribly (especially the female members because WOMEN HATE EACH OTHER IT IS KNOWN, though Honey turning into a big Mercy fan has kind of made up for that. I would quite like a middle ground between “Mercy is my lord and saviour, praise be!” and “Mercy is the terribad awful stain on humanity I will personally destroy!”) so having a line drawn under that is nice. But it would have been better if they’d learned to respect Mercy because she is due respect or because her actions have shown she deserves an alpha position. Or because Mercy has called them out on their shit and refuses to deal with them any more. Them respecting her because Adam has stood up and basically said “how dare you disrespect mah woman!” doesn’t help especially next to the backdrop of the series. Especially since, with Merc just making a blanket statement of sanctuary to all beings… well… isn’t is possible the pack might have a reasonable desire to question this beyond “Mercy is so terrible, gawd!” I don’t like the idea of stifling any questioning being framed as ensuring Mercy is respected
Christie is also still around. She continues to be an utter caricature of awfulness.
On that note, I’d also like to look at Mercy and Adam’s relationship. While it isn’t as bad here as we’ve seen in previous books, there’s one line that bothers me: it’s about how Mercy and Adam compromises. But the compromise is over Mercy’s “safety” which pretty much reads as “independence.” So the compromise isn’t about each side giving a little –it’s about how much Mercy gives up. The only thing Adam is “compromising” is how much freedom he allows Mercy. Like he questioning Mercy thing, the book is trying to force frames on debates and questions that don’t always apply or can be seen through a different angle very easily.
Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs is a worthy addition as the ninth book in the Mercy Thompson Series. Coyote shapeshifter, Mercy Thompson Hauptman and her mate Alpha of the Columbia Basin Werewolf Pack, Adam Hauptman, help the humans battle a troll. They wind up involved in politics, trying to stop a war with the Fae; simultaneously, trying to protect a human boy, Aiden, that has been Fire Touched. This contemporary urban fantasy takes place in Tri-Cities, Washington and in Underhill (Fairyland).
The scene at the beginning of the book with Mercy and Izzy’s mother is pretty amusing. I like how it ended up tying in with the rest of the book, very creative.
I like the introduction of Aiden. He has endured a lot throughout his life and is a survivor. His powers are impressive. He is a fascinating character with a lot of depth. I enjoyed his bantering with Jesse. I would like to see more of him in future books.
I love that the walking stick has taken on a personality. I hope we haven’t seen the last of it. I also appreciated Baba Yoga. She is clever and you never really know what to expect from her.
The pack dynamics was interesting; both with the Columbia Basin Pack and Bran’s Pack.
I enjoyed the plot. I like the use of characters from mythology in a modern setting. The story was convincing and believable. It had an excellent conclusion. You can always count on the Mercy Thompson series to have a great combination of action, fantasy, humor, and imagination. Each story is significantly different, but feels consistent with the series.
Complimentary copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.