ONLY BY YOUR TOUCH
Catherine Anderson


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Signet, April 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson


Contemporary

Thirty-year-old Chloe Evans and her six-year-old son, Jeremy, are starting over in the quaint, small town of Jack Pine, Oregon, following a divorce from the nightmare her once happy marriage had become. Working as a dispatcher in the sheriff's office, money is tight but Chloe is determined to give her son as normal a childhood as possible. She and Jeremy adopt an abandoned golden retriever puppy that Jeremy names Rowdy.

Shopping for puppy food in the local feed store, Chloe accidentally collides with a six foot five inch man in whom, in spite of his blue eyes, his Native American heritage is apparent. Jeremy, still afraid of most men, hides behind his mother. When Ben Longtree reaches out to steady Chloe, she feels a strange warmth spread through her body. As Chloe finds the puppy food and goes to check out, the friendly checker is in the mood to gossip, and proceeds to tell Chloe and Jeremy hair-raising tales concerning Ben Longtree. They are warned to stay away from him. He is dangerous and is rumored to have once killed a man. They are told he lives on Cinnamon Ridge with his crazy mother and he was once a veterinarian.

After they arrive home and find the puppy very sick and getting worse throughout the night, they try to get the local vet to treat Rowdy, but without a substantial amount of money upfront he will not even look at the puppy. While Chloe tries to get the money, Jeremy swallows his fear of men, puts the puppy in the bicycle basket and rides his bike all the way to Cinnamon Ridge. Fear and exertion bring on an asthma attack, but Jeremy begs Ben to help his puppy. Not wanting anyone to know his secrets, Ben tries to turn Jeremy down, but with one look at the puppy and the pleading, wheezing Jeremy, Ben agrees to help him.

As Chloe and Jeremy spend time with Ben and his forgetful mother, Nan, they find a very caring man who has been misunderstood by the townspeople all of his life. When danger threatens Chloe and Jeremy, it is Ben who comes to their rescue, not the local sheriff who claims she only got what she asked for. When trouble visits Cinnamon Ridge, Chloe and Jeremy are there to stand by Ben and his mother.

ONLY BY YOUR TOUCH by Catherine Anderson is definitely a contender on my list of the ten best books of 2003. The intimate scenes are kept to a minimum and used only to show the depth of love Ben and Chloe have for each other. The characters and their lives are so realistically portrayed, we can't help but become involved with them. I could almost feel Chloe's terror when she was under attack by the very people who were supposed to protect her.

We all know or know of people like Chloe and Jeremy who are starting over, yet do we really understand the courage that takes? We know people who are ostracized because, like Ben, they are different. But do we ever realize the courage it takes to hold their heads up high while they are out in public, all the time knowing they are being talked about and made fun of? I had never thought of these things as acts of courage until I began planning the approach I would take in writing this review. Catherine Anderson is a truly gifted writer who has the ability to quietly point out truth, while wrapping it in a beautiful love story. Until now, I had never realized that in all the books I have read by Ms. Anderson, she has done this with masterful subtlety.

Fans of Catherine Anderson will definitely not be disappointed in ONLY BY YOUR TOUCH. For those of you who have never read her books, this is a good place to start. If you love a good romance, I can guarantee you will soon become a fan.

Visit this author at http://www.catherineanderson.com .

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