Ashley's Reviews > Touch If You Dare

Touch If You Dare by Stephanie Rowe
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's review
Sep 28, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: arc, for-review, paranormal-romance, books-read-in-2011, vampires, posted-review, 4-stars
Read from July 22 to August 06, 2011

My Review:

The Plot:

Touch Jarvis Swain if you dare. Not only does the giant warrior come part and parcel with one hell of a massive sword that's a seamless extension of his own body, but the man is the Guardian of Hate. Oozing the putrid black slime of all the word's hatred, Jarvis is an infection that'll taint any fool foolish enough to touch his skin. And while all of this dark mojo lends Jarvis one badass reputation, the poor guy has an expiration date that he's managed by sheer force of will to extend by a hundred years. Jarvis isn't ready to explode and yes that's his end game, to explode. With determination to survive not only for survival's sake but to watch the backs of this fellow warriors, Jarvis isn't ready to go down without one last fight to save the world. With mere days separating him from his super nova finale, Jarvis needs to find his brother Cameron, the Guardian of Love, in order to stabilize the Earth from the aftereffects of his demise. There's one tinsy little problem: his brother has been hired to reap by Death in some convoluted bid for world peace.

Reaping souls would be a whole lot easier if Reina Fleming actually had some minuscule desire to kill. Instead, the girl is pure heart but reaping her first soul is the final step towards being promoted to Reaper status and the powers she desperately needs to save her doomed sister. After a nasty Deedub with a sweet fetish bit and tainted her mother and eight sisters, Reina has been forced to watch each and every one of them die. Now, with only one sister left - and she's showing the deadly signs of her impending demise - Reina is determined not to fail her like all the rest. Desperate to achieve the killing edge, Reina agrees to help Jarvis Swain - a warrior with no qualms about killing - retrieve his brother from Death and in return, he'll help her save her sister. There's one tinsy little problem: Reina has sworn to never give her heart to another doomed soul; she just can't take any more loss. With Jarvis scheduled to explode, Reina tries to hold back her heart from falling in love but the warrior is making that endeavor impossible. Honestly, what girl wouldn't fall for a guy willing to kill for her?

For one hundred and fifty years, Jarvis hasn't been able to lay a finger on a single being for fear of tainting them with his hate. Sex, therefore, isn't much of a pleasurable task for no sooner does he get his rocks off before the woman is screaming mad with hatred. Being the Guardian of Hate is an absolute sucker punch on Jarvis's love life. But by some miracle, Jarvis's black touch doesn't infect Reina. In fact, touching her and her reciprocating that touch seems to hold his impending implosion at bay. He's still scheduled to die of course but she gives him a few precious moments more of time. But no matter the hunger Jarvis feels for Reina's touch, he can't ever feel deserving of it. He's hate and she's heart. How in the world can they ever make it work? They can't, at least that's Jarvis's thought and his constant self flagellation isn't making him feel any better.

Reina knows that beneath Jarvis's badass exterior is a man in possession of a heart for she feels and sees his love in all his endeavors. He's a born protector, a man that would lay his life down in a minute not only for her but for his friends and even for his conceited brother. But no matter her arguments that run contrary to Jarvis's own belittling view of himself, her protests that he's a good and kind soul fall upon stubbornly deaf ears. Jarvis is a man that sees the world in black and white with him being the inky black. For Jarvis, hate isn't some monster lurking beneath his skin, Jarvis is hate, he is the monster and the sooner Reina understands that, the better. But he does soon appreciate Reina's determination to convince him otherwise. Having a female fight for him to see the good within himself is a previously unknown concept, one that has him falling head over heels for his little grim reaper. But this Happily Forever After is doomed. With so many out of control happenings, Reina and Jarvis are in for the ultimate fight, one that will test their very souls.

The Heroine:

Incredibly brave and utterly selfless, Reina Fleming takes care of those she deems as hers. Having failed her mother and seven of her sisters, Reina is determined to save the last of her family. There's just the pesky little problem of having to reap her first soul. Simple fact is that she can't do it and she can't do it because she can't stop herself from hopelessly loving others. Reina's heart has become a huge liability.

If there's one person out there that can help Reina become a cold-hearted murderer, it's Jarvis Swain. He's the meanest; most menacing warrior Reina has ever encountered so is it weird that he makes her heart flutter with desire? Maybe, but Reina's willing to be at Jarvis's mercy if it helps save her sister. Funnily enough, Reina feels no fear in the face of Jarvis's hate. While it's likely sensible to be afraid, Reina can't muster that specific emotion. Lust however, well she's feeling that in abundance. The thing is, Reina can sense a deep loyalty beneath Jarvis's frightening exterior. He can't be hate straight through to his soul. He just can't! If only the man didn't have to explode...

The Hero:

Jarvis Swain knows what he is: he's hate. Period. It's not as simple as a monster lurking beneath his skin like Reina believes. But God does it feel good to have her proclaim otherwise. Prior to Reina, females in general were bad news in Jarvis's opinion, having been tortured by them and all for well over a hundred years. Nothing like an insane bitch of a black magic wielding witch to turn you off to the female sex. But there's something so pure and genuine about Reina that's stirring up all of Jarvis's protective and possessive instincts.

Blinded from seeing his true self by the hate that consumes him, Jarvis, like Reina, is utterly selfless and would quickly sacrifice himself if meant that those he's deemed as his are safe. He's natural protector, one that has been protecting since the day he condemned himself to the life long servitude of an evil witch so that his brother, the Guardian of Love, could be safe. He's a good, worthy warrior. Too bad he's a ticking time bomb...

My Final Thoughts:

Superseding its predecessor in both plot and characterization, TOUCH IF YOU DARE is an entertaining and endearing paranormal thrill ride. Achieving a much needed harmony between both the action and the romance, Stephanie Rowe has made a fan out of me with this latest and greatest installment in her Soulfire Series. Here's to second chances!

Jarvis is very much a hero but one that definitely feels undeserving of the title. But let's look at the facts. One, he's a man that literally carries the fate of the world within him as the Guardian of Hate and he values his responsibility. Two, he sacrifices his ever weakening grip on Hate when any one of his band of warriors needs his powerful energy to heal or kill respectively. Three, he's constantly on guard and maintains distance so as not to inadvertently taint those he cares about and strangers alike. And finally, he's willing to do whatever is necessary to help Reina save her sister. I mean this is a man that selflessly gives to those around him without a thought to what he's forsaking in his soul to do so. This, my friends, is a hero.

Reina is the perfect pairing for Jarvis. She's the light to his darkness. Selfless in her own right, Reina gives her heart to everyone, human, immortal, or animal. Within Jarvis, Reina sees him for all the good that he his and she's convinced that he can overcome his battle with Hate by recognizing that very goodness within himself. It's this love, this unwavering ability to believe in people, to believe in hope that makes Jarvis admire Reina and ultimately to love her as well. She's a fun heroine and woman that readers can root for.

TOUCH IF YOU DARE embodies its share of action but the action flows very nicely with the romance, unlike its predecessor. Nothing overwhelms Jarvis and Reina. This is their show. Perhaps Rowe was able to focus more on the romance with TIYD because KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK (book 1) covered so much ground with regards to the world building. Also, I really enjoyed that there were reasons and evidence to substantiate the powers Jarvis and Reina wield. Things were explained to a much higher degree and that lent a more believable feel to the world and its characters.

A rompin' good thrill ride that any paranormal romance lover can appreciate, TOUCH IF YOU DARE is good fun. And I'll definitely be grabbing book three upon its release with every expectation that it'll prove to be even better.


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Reading Progress

08/17/2016 marked as: read

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