Cold Touch, by Leslie Parrish

>> Sunday, June 15, 2014

TITLE: Cold Touch
AUTHOR: Leslie Parrish

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: 2nd in the Extra Sensory Agents series

Since being gifted-or cursed-with the ability to touch a lifeless body and relive the deceased's final moments, Olivia Wainwright has died a hundred deaths. And every glimpse into this darkness draws her deeper into danger.

Though he doesn't believe in psychics, Savannah Detective Gabe Cooper offers her a glimmer of light. As their bond deepens, Olivia will have to choose between her cold gift and the warmth Gabe can provide. And Gabe can't refuse when she needs his help solving a crime that's haunted her for over a decade-her own murder.

Some 3-4 years ago, category author Leslie Kelly published 5 romantic suspense novels under the pseudonym Leslie Parrish. They were very well-reviewed, but I imagine they must not have done too well, because none have come out since. It's a shame, because they were really good, and Cold Touch is an excellent example.

It's the second book in a series about people with paranormal abilities that allow them to investigate crimes. Olivia Wainwright is one of them. She was kidnapped as a teenager, and the man holding her tried to kill her. He actually succeeded, if only for a little while, and since then, Olivia has had a really nasty power. If she touches a dead body, she's able to relive the person's last couple of minutes -including the moment of their death. Very handy in murder cases, but horribly traumatic for her.

She usually works through the eXtreme Investigations agency, relying on their protection and having them sort out things with local law enforcement. As the book starts, though, she hears a skeleton has been found close to the place where she was held during her kidnapping. This is significant for her because she was able to escape only due to the help of a younger boy, and she fears this might be his body. She fears her agency won't let her get involved, so she decides to approach Detective Gabe Cooper herself.

The basic setup of having a psychic heroine trying to convince the detective hero that she can help solve a case is not an uncommon one, but the reason I liked Parrish's books so much is that whatever plots she writes, they feel fresh. This is the case here. It didn't feel like these two were just plodding along set paths, they reacted to things in ways that felt right for the characters they were.

The romance is not great. I don't mean it bad, it's just perfectly serviceable, but didn't particularly captivate me. Also, it gets overshadowed completely by the suspense. I didn't particularly care, because the investigation and the way it affected Olivia and Gabe were really interesting and well done. It's a dark book, not just because of what happens but because Parrish creates a really sad, melancholy atmosphere and the whole book is steeped in it. And yet, there are enough lighter moments that it doesn't feel a slog to read.

Unfortunately, it seems there are not more books in this series, but the good news is the author has self-published all her Parrish books as Leslie A. Kelly, and there's a new one in a previous series (the Black CATs series) coming out this year (it says "Spring" in her website). I also discovered while digging around that she has published a couple of futuristic thrillers under the name Veronica Sloan. They are available cheap as a boxed set, so that was an easy decision to make!



Brie 16 June 2014 at 01:37  

Yes, this series didn't sell at all. I'm surprised she even managed to publish this book, because from what I could tell back when it was released, she already knew the series was done. It's a shame because I really liked it and I was invested in the secondary characters that never got a book. I have a soft spot for romantic suspense with paranormal elements, but those books don't seem to have a market.

Rosario 16 June 2014 at 06:39  

Brie: Well, since she's gone back to do more in the Black CATs one, she might go back to this one, as well. I'm actually surprised these didn't do well. There are so many rom sus books with psychic protagonists that surely there must have been some sort of market for them? There's that very long series by Kay Hooper, for instance, that's actually pretty dark as well. Maybe this just wasn't marketed well?

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