Touched by Death
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: September 1 2017
Number of pages: 362
Word Count: 105k
Cover Artist: The Killion Group, Inc
What if Death was more tempting than you had ever imagined?
With Grams’s recent passing and a boyfriend who cares more about his next drink than her, Lou Adaire only wants to run. To start over somewhere new — maybe in a town where her family has history.
But when a storm sends Lou’s truck plunging into Tuttle Creek Lake, she discovers exactly what it’s like to fight for your life. To gasp for air only to have your lungs fill with icy water. To die.
What comes next changes everything.
Dark eyes. Consuming presence.
Death. As vague as a dream yet as intense as the lightning flashing above her still heart.
Everything about him calls out to her, tugging at her with the warm vibration of his pull. He’s supposed to take her; they both know it. She wants him to.
When she wakes in the hospital in a new town, she can’t forget what she saw… That impossible sensation of him breathing life back into her, a strong beat playing in her chest and a flutter running down her spine.
Trying to move on with her life in a foreign place is hard enough, but when he comes back for more — his burning touch against her skin, his consuming presence weaving in and out of her life, and his own scars running far deeper than hers — Lou begins to realize there’s more to Death, and to the sleepy Kansas town, than she ever expected to find.
Lou lived. But what if she’s not the only one in need of saving?
*Note to readers: This book contains some profanity, sex, and some scenes featuring child abuse.
ExcerptMy sweater chafes my shoulder blade, and I wince as it irritates the raw, tender skin. I hadn’t thought much about the injury since leaving the hospital, having had other things to focus on—or focus on avoiding—but now the memory resurfaces in my mind: rain smacking against the windshield, trees and darkness spinning around me, the booming crack of my window breaking, and shards of glass flying at me.
I pull my sweater off. Eyes closed, I reach an arm across my chest and over my shoulder, tracing the tips of my fingers along the thick, three-inch cut that hasn’t quite scarred yet. It’s smooth beneath the stitches. Too smooth, and it feels foreign; a piece of my body I don’t recognize. I’ve always thought scars were meant to represent strength; all this one does is remind me that I shouldn’t be alive right now.
That I’m lost.
My eyelids flutter open, and my breath catches at the sudden touch of strong, warm fingers moving over my own. A slow, gentle stroke glides over the wound, but it’s not from me. It can’t be. My hand is stuck, frozen in place over my shoulder blade as though not daring to move. The mirror before me proves I’m alone in the bathroom, and yet, I feel it again, the same presence I felt several nights ago. Heat radiates behind my body as though someone is standing right there.
Another stroke caresses the wound, and it’s even lighter this time, like a feather brushing over me. The feeling of skin against skin is as real as anything. I can almost hear my heartbeat pounding within my chest. The fingers move past my wound, never breaking contact with my skin, and slowly trail upward, toward my neck. Though the texture feels strong and almost rough, the touch itself is impossibly gentle, treating me like something fragile.
No matter how loud my mind screams to fight it, my muscles are relaxing like jelly under the heavy sensation. My uplifted arm drops helplessly to my side. The warm touch strokes the side of my neck, wandering up further still until it’s almost in my hair. It’s light enough to send a shiver to my toes, and my eyelids start to close on their own, my head rolling slightly forward.
The presence behind me inches closer, and I hear breaths again. Just like the other night, they’re deep and controlled, right by my ear.
I have no idea what’s happening to me. Half of me is struck with a pang of fear, unease over the impossible experience. Yet the other half can’t help but be soothed by the calming tingles running through the length of me. There’s a trust I can’t explain, like a gentle, unspoken lullaby, and I know I’m safe. The heat, the masculine touch, the warm breaths soft as a whisper that rise and fall at the nape of my neck. I don’t want to think at all right now. I just want to feel.
The caress slides back down the right side of my neck, almost skimming along my collarbone, when it stops. Draws back. I hear a hitch in the breathing, a tremble for a fleeting moment, the smallest hint of the effort it takes to pull back. Then the touch returns, but only to my scar, traveling down the length of it with incredible slowness, taking its time. As though savoring every moment of contact with me, in a way I’ve never experienced. A sigh pours from my lips, and when my head falls back, it’s caught by the solid warmth behind me. It’s real enough that I could swear I’m pressed up against the presence right now, a presence that sure as hell feels like a man—tall, strong, sturdy. The feeling is so vivid I find myself thinking in terms of him instead of it.
A shake breaks his steady breathing again, another warm tremble in my ear, and I feel the tightness of his body rise and fall with each breath.
I’m letting myself go, relaxing every part of me until the only thing keeping me upright is his body, and as I do, the hard curves of muscle tense against my back.
Something in the air changes, and the presence behind me wavers. It’s completely solid one moment, and in the next it’s fluid, as though nothing more than a strong breeze props me up. Soon it’s not even a breeze, just a puff of air, and I’m grabbing the edge of the counter with both hands to keep from tumbling backward.
My legs wobble, struggling to support the rest of me. When I catch sight of my reflection now, my face is flushed. I let out a loud exhale when I remember how to breathe and command myself to get a grip. I’m still feeling like a sloshy puddle when I slip my sweater back on over my head and drag myself to the front door of my room, unlocking it and yanking it open.
I need fresh air like a drug right now, and I can’t stumble down the stairs fast enough. I hear Claire’s bubbly greeting when I fly past the front desk, but I don’t stop until I’m standing on the sidewalk, bending forward with my hands on my knees and soaking up the crisp winter breeze.
What the hell is happening? This can’t just be in my head. I know I’ve been a little off since Grams’s passing, but there’s no way I’d be able to dream up something so freaking real.
It was here. He was here.
Whoever he is.
Warning: Possible spoilers
First, the storyline. The main character, Lou, is going through a hard time. She’s lost her grandmother and has an ex-boyfriend trailing her, making her confused about what she wants and her future. Wanting to understand family dynamics better, and to know more about her grandmother, she sets out for the place where Grams grew up.
She has an accident on the way and encounters (the person) Death. It isn’t long before she is having more encounters with death. Her friends are calling to find out how she is doing, both by phone, and cards, as well as showing up on her doorstep, to use a popular cliché. She decides to stay in the area to do some research and starts having dreams of two boys in a difficult situation.
She gets a job with a reclusive, grumpy old man, and soon finds they have more in common than she would have thought. He has information she needs, but of course, he won’t talk.
She is driven to help the people in her dreams, to understand death, and figure out what she wants from her ex-boyfriend, while dealing with her own health and grieving over a number of losses, some current, and others from the past.
The characters are unique and interesting, and relationships build or desolve at a steady pace. Death is human like, attractive but frightening. Her newest friend is one of those ‘almost always' happy people who loves everyone and likes to get into their business, but not as a busybody, she just loves to be helpful. The ex-boyfriend’s trying to clean up just for her. Her BFF from the past, is dealing with husband and kids and just wants to stay connected. Lou has to figure everything out with all of these coming into play. Themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, growing up and learning about love and what love really means abound, and of course, Lou’s family had a past she never knew about.
If you like romance with a paranormal flair, you’ll love Touched by Death.
T.L.'s novels tend to involve the things she enjoys most as a reader: relatable and flawed protagonists, unexpected twists, slow burn romances, and a lively cast of secondary characters. (Being that she writes both young adult and new adult titles, please check individual book descriptions for any content warnings.)
T.L. is presently branching out into new adult contemporary romance!
Join her newsletter by visiting her website.