Touch by Kris Bryant is the second book in Bryant’s sensory series. Whether by design or by accident, Bryant has done a great job of securing my attention and fascinated me, twice now, with just one word. Touch is more than just about physical act of touching. It also focuses on the emotional touch we receive from other people.
Dr. Hayley Sims is Elite Therapy’s most popular physical therapist. Though she primarily works with kids, her history of working with professional athletes has made her the prime candidate to take on the most difficult patient, hockey player Elizabeth Stone. At first Stone and Hayley get off to a rocky start, thanks to Stone’s confrontational attitude towards Hayley. But as the two women work together to get Stone back on the ice, the defenses start to come down and a budding friendship appears.
As the two women become closer, Hayley’s personal life begins to unravel and her feelings for Stone begin to deepen. Will Hayley be able to finish her assignment and get Stone back on her skates? And will she be able to do so without her heart breaking in the process?
Anna: Dealing with an injured athlete is like dealing with an injured animal. They’re very antagonistic towards other people to hide the pain, vulnerability and fear they experience. It is something that any athlete who’s had a serious injury will confirm without hesitation, and it’s wonderfully crafted in the character of Elizabeth Stone.
When we first meet her, she’s very confrontational to Hayley and hides behind a wall of sarcasm and flirtation. Yet deep down, she’s as scared about the possible the end of her career as any other athlete.
Through Hayley, she is able to lower her guard and take a chance on someone to see the true Stone. Hayley, with her infinite patience and quiet manner, is able to begin the physical healing process of Stone’s leg. What she doesn’t expect to get from Stone is a good friend, possibly more, who will help her heal her heart.
Tara: We also see Hayley go through quite the journey, since she’s engaged to be married at the beginning of the book and isn’t particularly happy (also, since I’m sure people will wonder like I did when I started listening and realized she has a fiancee—no, Hayley doesn’t cheat with Stone). I appreciated getting to see Hayley change and grow as she made decisions that were entirely for her own good, including how she interacted with Stone. They’re very cute together, even near the beginning when Stone is angry about her injury, because Hayley finds the perfect ways to get through to her.
The Writing Style
Anna: I have to give praise to Bryant because she did something with this story that I never thought was possible: she made me enjoy present tense. This story is told in the first person, entirely from Hayley’s point of view. I enjoy first person when it is done right, and this one definitely is done correctly. The unexpected surprise for me, though, was realizing around chapter three that everything was in present tense. Bryant’s writing was so fluid and smooth, I didn’t recognize the tense until I was well into the story. That, to me, is always a sign of a skillful storyteller.
Tara: Kris Bryant really is one of the best authors going when it comes to romances that are told in the first person. The present tense also brings an immediacy that means we’re with Hayley for every step of her journey and we get to know her very well.
Tara: Brittni Pope continues to be great! She has such a beautiful, sensual voice that ensures I’m rapt, no matter what she’s reading. I don’t know that the characters were hugely differentiated, but that didn’t bother me since I had no problems following who was saying what.
Anna: I liked the extreme contrast between Hayley and Stone. Stone is an athlete and knows sports. Hayley is completely opposite and knows very little about sports, especially hockey. As extreme as these identities are, the natural progression of Hayley’s growing feelings for Stone would have felt improbable unless they were this extreme. This way, I really believed that Hayley was falling for Stone the woman, not Stone the hockey player.
Tara: I totally agree with Anna. Touch is an excellent opposites attract romance. Plus, it’s paced well, I enjoyed the relationship development, and the sex scenes are smoking hot.
Anna: Bryant does an exceptional job of emphasizing the therapy massages Hayley gives Stone. In addition, she writes great dialog for Stone that highlights how much she enjoys Hayley’s touch in the latter half of the story. My only wish was that she was able to somehow bridge the two portrayals by giving Stone some minor physical reaction to Hayley’s massages early on in their sessions to compliment her later statements.
Tara: I’m going to try to say this with as few spoilers as possible, but just in case, consider yourself warned and skip to the conclusion of you like.
I kind of thought that Hayley overreacted in a lot of her interactions with her ex after they broke up (except the final one—that was totally appropriate). It didn’t make sense to me that she’d run so cold, since they hadn’t seemed to be on terrible terms as much as Hayley just needed more. I still enjoyed the story, but it gave me enough pause that I messaged Anna (who didn’t agree with me).
Anna: What I love about Touch is it emphasizes the sensuality and the seductive properties that the physical touch can invoke. Whether a touch is medicinal or a more personal, it can always trigger a strong emotional response. Please come and read how Hayley and Stone are able to arouse by touching both the physical and emotional parts in each other.
Tara: If you like sports romances, opposites attract pairings, or even just really good contemporary romances, you’ll want to check out Touch. If you haven’t read anything by Kris Bryant, this would be a great place to start, and fans are sure to enjoy it too. And if you love listening to romance, be sure to get it in audio and come join me in my crush on Brittni Pope’s voice!
Excerpt from Touch by Kris Bryant
“Hi, Elizabeth. I’m Dr. Hayley Sims. It looks like I’ll be working with you for the next five or six weeks.” Her body language tells me she’s as excited about this as I am. She leans back on her elbows and looks at me with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. The corner of her mouth slides into a smirk as she looks me up and down. Her appraising nod makes me grit my teeth.
“Call me Stone. Nobody calls me Elizabeth.” She reaches down and plays with the side of the paper that’s stretched over the examination table. The smile’s there, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. They’re piercingly angry. I stop myself from releasing a sigh. Her problems are definitely worse than mine. I quickly and quietly review her file in front of her. Her doctor’s notes are fairly extensive and as much as I want more time to study them, I know I need to assess Stone and make a decision on my own.
“So Elite is your second choice after the team therapist. What happened at the other place? Why did you leave?”
“The guy was an ass. He didn’t even look me over, he looked at my X-rays, read my report, and said I’d never play hockey on a professional level again.” Stone’s cheeks were blotchy. She was getting angry. “So, Doc, are you going to say the same thing?”
“You can call me Hayley. And I have no idea why he would say that. Rehabilitation is a two-way street. It depends on you more so than on us. Once I can evaluate you and see where you are in the healing process, I can give you my opinion,” I say.
“Are you a real doctor or just Gloria’s assistant?” She’s so dismissive of me. My defenses go up immediately.
“Are you a real hockey player or just the Zamboni driver?” I shoot back. I can’t believe I came up with the name for that machine for the correct sport. I’ve never watched a hockey game in my life.
Stone raises her eyebrow at me. She’s attacked my profession and I’ve attacked hers.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781635550849
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
- Narrator: Brittni Pope
Kris Bryant Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of Touch by Kris Bryant. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.