Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Jeff Gelder
Length: 6 hours, 18 minutes
Having suffered unimaginable physical and emotional torment as a child, Kaden James now lives a dysfunctional life afraid of every large man he meets. Kaden’s fear results in him continuously losing jobs, much to the dismay of his employment counselor, who finally sets Kaden up with a job cooking at his cousin’s cattle ranch in Montana.
Kaden doesn’t have much going for him in New York City and accepts the job as cook on Logan Michaels’ ranch. The trip to Montana is uneventful, but as he arrives at the ranch, Kaden soon realizes that this may be a mistake when he spies the tall, muscular Logan. Getting past his initial fear, Kaden soon settles into a routine of cooking and retreating to his room to hide from the other men. The plan is working until ranch hand Franklin notices the young man and decides that he must get Kaden into his bed, whether Kaden wants it or not.
A near miss at the local honkey tonk with Franklin leaves Kaden a mess and Logan is there to see the young man through the pain. The two men gradually realize that there is something more than just an employer/employee relationship going on and gradually they fall in love, but even feelings of love can’t erase the scars, both mental and physical. Can Kaden trust Logan enough to divulge his secrets, and can Logan, a formerly “straight” rancher truly accept his attraction to another man?
If there is one thing I can be sure of when starting a Loveless book is that I will get a hefty dose of hurt/comfort and Touch Me Gently is no exception. Heck, just look at the post tags, there is something in Touch Me Gently for everyone.
I was taken by Kaden from the very beginning and found that his behavior was reasonable given the horrors of his past. It would have been easy to have Kaden’s character be over-the-top, melodramatic but this is never the case. He is troubled, neurotic, afraid, and totally loveable. Logan is a more interesting character, especially since he is the straight-identifying rancher who falls for Kaden. Logan is the big, strong, capable, cowboy with the proverbial heart of gold. Now you might think that it sounds trite, but from the first time we meet Logan, he embodies quiet competence and keen observational skills, which allow him to gradually calm and gain the trust of his skittish cook.
I liked the slow relationship build-up between the two men and found that the secondary characters did their part well without detracting from the main storyline. What didn’t work for me were the continuous use of the epithet “teenager” and the use of the descriptor “feminine” to describe Kaden. Kaden is 19, yes, technically a teenager, but it got to the point where I was getting creeped out every time I heard the word. Young man would have worked well, and sometimes using Kaden’s name would have been best, in my opinion. Feminine, I am not against a man who may look feminine, but the term was used to explain why Kaden was treated a certain way and for me, its use was not justified for the number of times it came up.
The audio here was pretty good. I could keep up with the characters based on Gelder’s vocalization, but found the pace to be a bit off at times. For example, there were times when there should be a pause, but the narration continues almost seamlessly.
The final verdict? I will listen to Touch Me Gently again. The irritants were minor, the main characters, especially Kaden, were likable, and the story was engaging enough to have me revisit the guys on the ranch again.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.