That Loving Touch
by Ashley Summers
(Silh. Desire #1257 $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-76257-7
Carrie Loving first meets Sam Holt when she collapses in his arms at his front door. She was on her way to her cabin on the shores of Ohio's Lake Prince John, when her car gets stuck in a snow bank. Feverish from a stubborn case of the flu and weakened by her 4 month pregnancy, Carrie notices lights in Sam's cabin and trudges through the snow to his door.

Helping a sick woman is the last thing Sam wants to do. As the harried CEO of a large furniture manufacturer, he has retreated to his secluded cabin to spend the holidays in pleasant isolation.

Sam is more than a little disillusioned with women. His ex-wife worshipped her youthful figure more than the unborn child she carried. She aborted the baby before informing Sam of her intentions. Naturally, the marriage soon ended and with it Sam's trust in women.

Carrie's trust in men has been seriously compromised as well. Her ex-husband, Justin, left her holding the bag when a fraudulent investment scheme he developed wiped out the savings of many innocent investors. Justin fled the country, but not before raping his ex-wife and leaving her pregnant.

It's no wonder these two have an issue with trust.

Sam's conscience keeps him from sending Carrie away, and he talks her into staying in his guest room until she can recuperate. It's obvious these two were made for each other, but the negative baggage they carry cause them to make all the wrong choices in their developing relationship. This is another example of a book that would end much sooner, with a lot less heartache, if the characters would simply confide in one another.

There was one scene that really stood out for me. Sam and Carrie are in the supermarket, and Sam, like many men, hates to shop. Soon the two are snapping at one another over insignificant things until Sam gets fed up, finds his own shopping cart and does his own shopping. This scene is funny and endearing. Just because they are in love doesn't mean they can't get on each other's nerves. This slice of life really brought the characters alive.

There's really no new ground in this simple tale of two wounded souls and I found the book a bit too easy to put down. But if you are in the mood for a cozy holiday read about the redeeming qualities of love, then That Loving Touch may be just the book for you.

--Karen Lynch

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