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Publisher's Summary

Ireland is convinced no one can love him when his boundaries include no touching.

With a fear of touch deeply ingrained in his core, Ireland has always floundered with love and relationships. All the therapy in the world doesn’t seem to help, and no one wants to love him broken like he is. 

Raven’s patience and understanding seem genuine, but will he stick around when things slide backward? Because they always do. Can Raven accept Ireland’s limitations, or will he be like everyone else and leave in the end? 

Touch of Love is a hurt comfort MM romance with moderate angst. It is part of the Trials of Fear series, but can be listened to as a stand-alone.

©2018 Nicky James (P)2021 Nicky James

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  • Hanksgirl
  • 04-05-2021

Beautiful story!

Audio version. These guys were so amazing and so meant to be! It broke my heart to know that something as simple as touch ravaged Ireland, but he was a fighter! I love how he fought every instinct he had warring within him to distance himself from Raven, and in the end they both prevailed! That ending was everything for me, it really was!
On a side note, Adam is the best narrator for all of Nicky’s books, he truly brings the story to a whole new level of life. Can’t wait until this whole series is on audio.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 03-05-2021

When touch brings pain

Phobia: an extreme or irrational fear or an aversion to something
Haphephobia: the fear of touching or of being touched


If you know me, you know I love Nicky James. Especially her books where main characters have a mental illness. I write extensive reviews where I talk about how the book has impacted me. I’m going to *try* to keep this one shorter.

Wish me luck.

First, I completely related to both Ireland and Raven. Ireland might be the one with the phobia, but Raven has just as much to lose. Just as much to gain. Ireland has his reasons for being touch-averse. Only that phobia runs so much deeper. He goes into panic mode when anyone invades his personal space. Even his job as a nurse is barely tolerable because, frankly, nursing requires touching people. Whether taking a blood pressure reading or administering a needle or simply offering a reassuring squeeze, nurses rely on their interactions with patients to calm them.

Ireland has already been on leave several times because of his inability to cope. The first trigger came out of the blue and devastated him. He’s never really recovered. He’s also never really dealt with the underlying trauma. He’s in therapy, and I understood why he didn’t confront the reason for his beliefs – irrational as they are – but my heart ached.

The book begins with him breaking up with his girlfriend of two years. Julia is also a nurse and she knew what she was getting into when she moved in with Ireland. I think she thought she could fix him. Breakups are never pretty, especially when the life you’ve crafted is so meticulous. Faced with taking apart what they had put together, Ireland is flummoxed. Then the movers show up and he and Julia are still bickering. Now, Raven has seen just about everything as a mover, so he’s not really fazed. But he’s struck by Ireland’s beauty. And he senses depth to the man. But after it comes out that Raven’s gay, Irelands standoffishness gets interpreted as homophobia and it didn’t look good.

Things aren’t always what they seem, and the next time they meet, Raven learns more about Ireland. The third time they meet, it’s on Ireland’s terms and Raven manages to convince the man to go out on a real date.

Thus begins the push and pull, parry and retreat, forward and backward, of this relationship. I wanted so badly for things to progress. Raven’s patience never wavered. Not once. That kind of love is precious. And Ireland’s a smart man. He was able to recognize it. But ingrained beliefs are tough to battle. Ireland is always convinced Raven will leave. And to compound things, Ireland has a physical ailment that requires self-care and if there’s one thing he’s not good at, it’s taking care of himself. But doing better for Raven becomes a thing. Seeing his therapist becomes a thing. Being brutally honest with both himself and Raven becomes a thing.

Then came the setback. I knew it was coming. Didn’t know what form it would take, but there was an inevitability to it. Didn’t stop my heart from breaking all over again. So the question was – could they build back better? Stronger? Or would there always be the physical distance as well as the threat of emotional one as well?

Did I say I was going to write a short review? I lied. Big surprise.

Nicky James novels hit me where it hurts. As someone who struggles with a mental illness, I often see parts of myself in these characters. And although this book was written pre-pandemic, I think the lessons are even more profound. Will I ever be comfortable touching someone again? Having them touch me? Will I ever fall into a friend or relative’s arms and just enjoy the embrace without worrying? I think there are going to be a lot of people relating to Ireland’s dilemma. And that’s sad. That’s something that’s been taken away that we may never get back.

Two more quick things – several characters in this book appeared in previous ones and I always like those little cameos. Holds my interest. And finally I’ll mention Adam Gold. He’s fantastic as a narrator and these books suit him. A chance for him to both demonstrate his talent and to give us Ms. James’ words in an even more moving performance. There are more books and I look forward to them.

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  • wild_orchid
  • 30-04-2021

Heartbreakingly good

The Queen of angst has struck again. This audio has two fantastic MCs, both Ireland and Raven stole my heart. It had been a while since I read the book so hearing the narration felt like a whole new experience to me. The narrator is absolutely phenomenal and I love how they utilize their recording technology to make phone calls sound....well like a phone call....it’s hard to explain but easy to recognize in the audio. The narrator really brought the characters to life without missing a beat and made it easy to follow along with out any extra effort.

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  • Abrianna
  • 29-04-2021

Beautiful

I love Nicky James and the way she writes mental health. It's so real and there's nothing "magical" about it. There are no quick fixes. Ireland and Raven have to fight for the relationship they want and they have to figure out how to be together when Ireland's limitations make touch impossible some days.
Adam Gold is a fantastic narrator and brings the characters to life. The emotions are there and it's heartbreaking to listen to these two through all the trials and tribulations they are forced to go through.
This book is touching, emotional, and I loved every second of it.

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  • jen reilley
  • 26-04-2021

Amazing

Gahhh this book. The first time I read this book it was amazing. This time around I listened to it and it was even more amazing.

Let’s talk about the narrator. Adam is simply awesome. The voice. The distinction.

This book follows Ireland and Raven meeting and falling for each other. Every touch I could feel as if I was the one being touched. Can you imagine not ever wanting to touch or be touched? I couldn’t.

Nicky made me feel this love story. Made me feel Ireland’s emotions and Ravens touch. They safety in Ravens arms.

Run and get this book now

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  • Elizabeth M
  • 25-04-2021

Amazing

This book was amazing. Adam Gold did an amazing job of bringing this book to life. Raven is perfect for Ireland. I love how he absolutely respected Ireland’s limitations on touch. He went slow. He new Ireland was worth it. My heart broke for Ireland. I’m so happy he got his happy ending.

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  • Jennie
  • 20-04-2021

Highly recommend!!

Ireland broke my heart right from the beginning. His phobia rules his life. This makes his job and any relationship extremely difficult.

I enjoyed watching his friendship with Raven grow. Ireland trying so hard with his limits and boundaries.

I really like the narrators voice. It's soothing and very easy to listen to. He is a new to me narrator and I will definitely be looking for more of his work.

This story gives a great insight into a little known phobia I didn't realise even existed. It's a touching story (no pun intended) of patience and hope, fear and family that I'd highly recommend.

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  • H. Spanarella
  • 19-04-2021

A Beautiful Love Story

You know when you finish a book and you’re like “well, what am I supposed to do now?” This IS that book. I absolutely loved Ireland and Raven’s story. It truly is a love story that is going to grab you by the feels. Nicky James always draws me into her characters and they grab at my every emotion. Ireland just about gutted me with his haphephobia, fear of touch. His struggle with being able to touch others in his life in day to day interactions, his job as a nurse, and trying to build a relationship with Raven were constant struggles for him. It was amazing to see how Raven just understood Ireland in a way that others never have. I loved how his patience, determination and love for Ireland never wavered. If there was ever a person made for another, it was Raven for Ireland.

These two left such an impression on me, that when the audio was released it moved to the top of my listening list. I savored it over almost a week as I revisited two characters that still moved me as much as the first time. Adam Gold’s narrations are always a next level experiences for me, but if possible he kicked it up a notch Ireland and Raven’s story. Adam has a way of drawing you into a story that you feel so emotionally present. This was a wonderful narration to accompany an equally wonderful and beautiful love story.

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  • Lisa L Teetz
  • 18-04-2021

Fabulous!!!

It's going to be so hard for me to find the words to accurately reflect how much I loved this book. Nicky James has created a story full of so much love, trust, tenderness, honesty, and emotion with Touch of Love. This entire series is phenomenal, but Raven and Ireland's story is my favorite. Imagine being truly afraid of being touched, never experiencing contact with others--this was the life Ireland was living due to some deep trauma he experienced as a child. He meets Raven by chance one day and their paths cross a few more times until they start to become friends. The very slow and very delicate friendship evolves and develops into more. Ireland is so afraid of letting people down, he doesn't want to commit. Raven doesn't waver though and he steadfastly pursues Ireland.

This book had so many heart-melting moments. The first time they touched, their first kiss, Raven's commitment to Ireland, Ireland truly trusting Raven, the intimacy they had with one another both in and out of the bedroom...I could go on and on. This book made me feel so many emotions. I enjoyed every word of it and never wanted it to end.

Clearly I loved this book when I read it, but listening to it on audio was an entirely captivating experience. Adam Gold is a narrator God. The way he encapsulates the characters and narrates this story is nothing short of pure genius. The emotion he brings to the narration is next level. To truly experience the magic of this book, I highly recommend listening to Adam Gold bring Nicky Jame's incredible story to life!

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  • Maude Allen
  • 17-04-2021

Hurt/Comfort at its best

Ireland has an extreme phobia to touch. It has affected his whole life. He has come to believe that no one could want or love him long term. He's just been dumped by his girlfriend and while moving into his new apartment he meets Raven.
Raven is intrigued but confused by Ireland behavior.
They continue to meet and eventually become friends. They then embark on a relationship.
The author did an amazing job in showing how their relationship worked with his phobia. I enjoyed watching them become close. I will say that the story line was successful and I was able to believe that this was a plausible storyline. Ireland and Raven were so good together. Raven was supportive and loving when Ireland needed it the most .

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  • Amelia
  • 30-04-2021

Deeply emotional and wonderfully romantic

Every book in this series has been exceptional, and Raven and Ireland's romance was no different. Starting out with Ireland in such an emotionally raw state made me instantly connect with him, and as I learned more about his phobia and how it affected his life I only became more invested in his happiness. Listening to Ireland's shame, frustration, and guilt was excruciating at times, and Adam's emotional narration made me feel like I was right there in the room with him as he agonized over his inability to be "normal". Ireland was the kind of guy who put a lot of pressure on himself, and several times I found myself wishing he would give himself a break. Raven's loving support couldn't have been more soothing to me, and I loved watching him rewrite all of Ireland's preconceived notions about what a relationship should be. As the two of them spent more time together, what struck me about Raven wasn't that he perfectly anticipated Ireland's needs, because he did make mistakes at times, but that he listened and adapted his behaviors to make his partner feel safe. Even after Ireland's most triggering moments, Raven was there, offering support and love in whatever way he could. The two of them proved that the strongest love isn't formed with physical intimacy, but with an emotional bond of trust and unconditional support. 

**I voluntarily listened to a free copy of this book. This review expresses my honest thoughts and opinions. 

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  • loveQhuay
  • 28-04-2021

Love Ireland so much♥

Ireland is one of my all time favorite from the Trials of Fear series, and I couldn't wait to hear his story with Adam Gold's voice.

It was so good. So, so full with emotions. I love Adam's voice and I love how he narrates, he gives life to these characters.

Loved to be back with Ireland and Raven again, I missed them and their story was just as good for the second time as it was for the first. I fell in love again.

And Krew is next! Wow I really CAN NOT wait for his story.

*my ebook review from earlier:

Nicky James's name is a guarantee for an amazing book. And the Trials of Fear series is so good, mental illness is one of my favorite trope, I love reading about different illnesses and Nicky's writing is always awesome!

This book was so good in every level. I loved Ireland and Raven, both were unique and strong characters.
And the fact that Raven was a singer, OMG I loved him more for this, especially at the end when he performed for Ireland's mom and for Ireland too.

The book was an emotional ride, it hurt to read about Ireland's fears and wars, but at the same time it was beautiful too.
The little touches, the kisses, and oh man, that first kiss was everything! Best of the best kisses!

"Touch is not always painful. Touch can be gentle and soothing. Touch is a form of intimacy."

It was beautiful in and out. I loved reading it and loved every page. The slow heat was so good! It builded up beautifully, and the intimacy of their relationship was lovely!

I highly recommend this book, although it wasn't my favorite in the series, I loved the second book - Shades of Darkness- much better, I've cried over it so many times, but this book was good too!
And plus point for Ireland's T1 diabetes- it was well written.

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  • Mandy
  • 24-04-2021

Amazing & Beautiful Journey 💞💞

Absolutely Loving this series by Nicky James this one is a beautiful and inspirational journey. Ireland & Raven stole my heart they are amazing together, Ireland fighting hard to overcome his phobia of touch he's scared, angry and frustrated feeling alone until he meets Raven he's patient, understanding he sees the beautiful soul that Ireland is the generosity of spirit and loves him for it. Adam Gold has done a Fantastic job bringing these two amazing people to life the voices are captivating Loved it... Had the pleasure of reviewing this can't recommend it enough if you loved books listen to this you won't be disappointed brilliant. 💞💞

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  • AL
  • 21-04-2021

In awe!

Story: Nicky James tackles extremely difficult topics in her books, but Touch of Love has become one of my favorites! The care and skill used to describe life with a debilitating phobia, very often visceral and radiating pain, is awe inspiring!
The book is very emotional, dark in places and there are no punches held, but it's beautiful, true and amazingly well written.
The story is a standalone, but do yourself a favor and read / listen to the whole series. It's a true masterpiece!
Narration: Adam Gold did a splendid job with Ireland and Raven. The performance is very emotional and spot on! It enhances the story without overshadowing it and the voice is brilliant! Must be one of my favorite narrations ever! Really impressive <3

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  • Starwarslover
  • 17-04-2021

oh yes!

this was everything.. it was amazing and sexy.. interesting and wonderful.. the narrator does a gorgeous job with these characters and who they are.. it was perfection and i loved it

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  • Katie townsend
  • 16-04-2021

perfect and beautiful performance loved

listening to Adam gold preform Ireland and raven's story was beautiful made me feel every emotion from Ireland and raven I felt like I was right along side them

Adam gold did the voices exceltly how I imagined them just beautiful

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