by A.J. Aalto
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.
At A Glance
If I could turn this book into a man, I would chitty chitty bang bang him all night long!
I’m going to be totally honest. I didn’t really remember signing up for this tour and when I saw it on my schedule, I looked up the book and read the blurb and was like, “Really, I signed up for this? This doesn’t sound that great.” Begrudgingly, I sat down to read it. After the first couple chapters, I mentally whipped myself for judging this book so harshly just from the blurb (which isn’t bad I just wasn’t feeling it that day). Touched mindf**ked me. Everything about it was so thrilling and fun that I had to move around while reading it to walk off the excited energy it instilled in me.
Before I go further, I did want to say that this book has a totally urban fantasy feel even if it’s not labeled as such.
Marnie, Marnie, Marnie. What can I say about her? She is a badass in some ways, effing hilarious in most ways, and horny always. She rivals some of my favorite heroines of all time, like Kate Daniels, Cat Crawfield, and Rachel Morgan. She has spunk, she has insecurities, she is every woman…but with paranormal powers. Marnie may not have skills with a gun and she may not have super strength but her mouth makes up for any of her downfalls. I swear, if I could say the things she does I would be a happy woman, a laughed at woman, but a happy woman. Marnie really steps into some major crap in Touched. Almost everyone wants a piece of her. Some want to kill her, some want to make her suffer, and some just want to do her against wall. You know, the usual. But Marnie is damn good in scary/bad situations. She may not know it but she is the ultimate survivor. She does everything but pull a rabbit out of her butt to save herself and others.
Harry is Marnie’s vampire companion. Their relationship is based on shared benefits. All vamps and psychics work together. I wont say too much since it’ll be fun to find out on your own. Harry and Marnie’s relationship is both an emotional nightmare and adorable friendship. I want my own vampire teddy bear that always puts me down as he picks me back up. Yeah, yeah that’s not healthy, but damn reasoning! Sometimes I hated or straight out distrusted this silver tongued vamp. He has more than a few secrets. But even when I hated him, I loved him. It’s like he has an unnatural draw even through the pages.
Mark Batten. *girly sigh* As Marnie likes to say, if he was any more of an a**hole he would be a sphincter. FBI agent Batten is everything you hate/love in a man. He knows how to take charge, to keep a girl on her toes. He is so mean sometimes but you can tell he has a huge capacity to love, it’s just buried deep inside. He’s the bad boy teenager you loved so much when you were young but he’s all grown up…and now hunts vampires…and knows how to use a gun…and likes to sit with his legs open, in tight jeans, so you know what you are missing. You will not like him in the beginning, but he will grow on you. He can ride me up against a bathroom door any day.
The action was superb in Touched. I literally got tingles with every fight scene. I felt like I was there watching the whole thing in real-time. Aalto is also a great writer. I got so lost in this book time after time, it was hard top put down. The pacing was perfect. The paranormal elements were different enough to make the story feel fresh. The character development was amazing, obviously. I feel lucky to have read this book.
Though I gave it 5 stars, there were two things that irked me in Touched. First, Marnie’s insistence on putting herself in dangerous situations without being armed. She may not have known every situation was dangerous until it was too late, but if I was being stalked by a killer, I would be armed even in the shower.
Then, I was so peeved when we were left hanging with some unanswered questions. Marnie finds out about a lot of secrets being kept from her by people close to her but she never confronts them.
Holy love triangle Batman! Best. Love. Triangle. Ever. So yummy yummy. Batten and Harry were both so fun, but in their own ways. Batten’s a-holery and Harry’s condescending, uppity attitude worked well with Marnie’s snarkiness. It’s funny how you don’t even see the love triangle until it’s too late. Like a drive by love triangle. Sneaky, sneaky, Aalto.
There is sex in this book and hot damn I wish there was more because it was HOT! Even Marnie’s flashbacks to her fast romp with Batten was oh so sexy. *shivers*
If I don’t get a chance to read book two of the series, I will cry. This is now a must read series for me. I want to read about all these characters again and again. I really don’t see how anyone could not like this book. Very highly recommended.
I straight up LOLed at this:
“Amateur dunce,” Batten corrected, taking a pull from the beer bottle Harry put in his hand. “There’s no way you’re a professional anything.”
“Goes to show you haven’t had my very pro blow job yet.” I gave him a neener-neener smirk and poured myself a Dr. Pepper on ice while Harry choked out about a hundred old English admonishments that no one else in the room understood.
“Funny things occur to you when you’re dying. Bleeding out for the second time in three months, I thought deliriously, I could have used that damned No. 2 pencil. And: I think Batten waters down his cologne. How can I prove it? And then: I’m going to die, here. I don’t want the reek of vomit to be the last thing I smell.”
AJ Aalto is the author of Touched, first in the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing old Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her many fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a particular weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with dark, imperfect creatures, flawed monsters and oodles of snark. AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar, and has been known to swallow her gum.