Annie Parker came to Silver Mesa, Arizona, because it was the only place she’d found where folks thought a woman doctor was better than no doctor at all. Her lonely life became harder still on the winter night Rafe McCay broke into her office with a bullet in his side and a bounty hunter at his back. With a gun aimed at her heart, he led her deep into the Arizona mountains, and into a world of danger and passion, for Annie discovered in Rafe not only a wounded man, but a soul betrayed…and Rafe, healed by her skill and the magic in her hands, awakened in Annie a woman’s tender longing and hungry desire. Pursued by dangerous secrets of the past, they are swept into a thrilling odyssey of the heart — a bold, exhilarating journey that rekindles Rafe’s lost hope and transforms Annie’s healing gift into a deep, enduring love.
I think there’s truly something magical about a book if you can re-read it multiple times and still be enamored with the story, characters, and writing. Most, if not all, of Linda Howard’s books are like that for me but the one I’ve re-read the most is this book. Set in the wild & dangerous time period after the Civil War, The Touch of Fire is a captivating western romance about two individuals striving to belong and how they discover a love that is found in the most unexpected of places.**************************Well on her way in becoming a spinster, Annie Parker is a dedicated and meticulous doctor, a profession that most people believe to be unladylike so she is constantly looked down upon. Nevertheless, that doesn’t diminish her passion for her job or her innate love for healing. On a typical work night, she is shocked to see a hooded but wounded man stumbling into her clinic.An outlaw only by name, Rafe McCay has been on the run for 4 years, evading bounty hunters and lawmakers after being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After being shot by one infamous bounty hunter, Rafe stops by Annie’s clinic and seeks medication, only to be told that his wound could fester and without proper care, can contaminate and lead to death. Thus, Rafe kidnaps and takes Annie with him to treat his wounds.Due to extreme weather conditions, Annie and Rafe are temporarily stranded in an abandoned abode for days. Both are naturally wary of each other and don’t expect to develop feelings but it happens. With little outside interference, they both have the time to learn more about each other.
When it’s finally revealed what turned Rafe into a wanted man, both Annie and Rafe set out to try to clear his name, encountering Native Americans, unwanted bounty hunters, and one tough lawmaker along the way.**************************Just to clear out the air, this book is far from perfect and to top that, there is a very slight paranormal aspect (which I’m usually not too fond of). However, this book is perfect for me. I loved the setup of the story: kidnapping mixed with a strong, silent hero and an intelligent heroine. I think what made this really work for me – again and again – is that I knew there was nothing to fear from Rafe. He may be a kidnapper, an alleged murderer, but not purposely so. Life dished out a terrible plate for him and he did what he had to do to survive but he never hurt an innocent. Pairing him with a character that’s his complete opposite was just brilliant. It was very interesting to see this rough and rugged man fall for the sweet-tempered, warmhearted woman.
My favorite part about this book, however, wasn’t the romance (shocking right??). It was the rich & beautifully described historical setting. I’m a huge American history geek, and I thought it was a genius move to incorporate historical icons like Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, and Jefferson Davis into the story. There’s a mix of everything in here – romance, history, and political intrigue that made for an entertaining and thrilling read.I would recommend this book to fans of historical romance that aren’t bothered by extra details about the Civil War and enjoy a little dark & suspense in their stories.