Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ARNP: The Healing Touch by Christine Flynn

I shamelessly have run through all the Alaska-themed romance novels in my local library. What they must think of me, checking out this literary trash and every bad movie ever made. I justify it because this is SCIENCE. I am doing RESEARCH.

Ahem, so. The Healing Touch is special because it is a Forest Service based romance novel set in Alaska. Yerp. This book is set in the fake town of Mist, AK which clearly is a complex of the actual towns of Hoonah and Pelican. It's Hoonah for the logging and USFS office and Pelican for the barkeep side character of Rosie, who is an honest-to-God real Alaskan Institution. The rest is pure, sweet Graphic Swirler circa 1991.

We begin with the heroine, Lara Grant, running over a bear cub with her truck. An event that causes her to flash back to the baggage she will unpack thanks to the love of a Good Man. Lara grabs the injured cub and takes it to town. (Real Talk: She should have been mauled by the actual mama bear who was probably in the ditch when this happened. Remember when I said biological inaccuracy makes me itch? Yeah. This.) Ain't much in the town of Mist, except for Cole MacInnes and his Ranger Uniform of hotness and bear healing. The drowned "musk rat" looking Lara (Cole's thoughts) brought an injured and bleeding cub in for Cole to Heal with his Touch.

Cole's office consists of Cole, some maps, and a book of regulations that "he tended to ignore." Heh, except he was the District Ranger and in 1991 Hoonah, and northeast Chichagof in general, was a hopping place. Logging was in full swing and there would have been a boatload of other bureaucrats bureaucrating around the lonely, brooding Cole. Somewhere, the author thanks the public affairs officer with giving her the straight skinny on what life is like for the lonely SEAK feds. Cole also flies into Sitka for a big meeting and carries a .375 for the big, bad brown bears. So it's not all bunk.

Well, they sew up the cub and Cole checks out her ass while noting that she is the queen of Cheechakos and is terrifically unprepared for the wilds of Alaska. Cole tells her about the man-eating carnivores with claws like razorblades and a thirst for human flesh: Bears. Also, Cole spends a lot of time scowling at various things--Lara, a flapping shutter, bears, federal regulations--pretty much anything because he is Deeply Wounded and needs a Touch that can Heal. They swap stories and drink whiskey by a wood stove while waiting for the storm to abate. Lara has bought the local store, but the wound that she needs some of that Touch with the Healing, has come with her from California.

Lara has to nurse that cub back to health and figure out how to run a store in a remote location. The whole bear-healing is particularly distasteful to me so I will be brief: she bathes it, walks it on a leash, gives it a diaper, and cries when she has to release it into the wild. I hate this part of the book.

Sigh. Onward and upward, shall we? Mist has 1 phone and bi-weekly plane service. Lara has to navigate the extremely difficult shipping circumstances to stock and manage her store along side the chatty, supremely pregnant Sally. (A pregnant woman in the first act has to give birth in the third.) Rosie, the government appointed Salty Redhead of Wisdom, owner of Rosie's Bar helps Lara as much as a government appointed Salty Redhead of Wisdom does in situations like this. Lara and Cole stare, brood, talk, misunderstand, mutually admire physical traits. Mist is sorely in need of a teacher so kids don't have to go to boarding school. Guess who is a teacher and just moved to town but is escaping her past so can't be around children because her past involved children? This is a Thing.

Lara confesses that he husband and unborn child died in a horrible car accident and she ran as far from San Diego as was possible. Do you want to Touch this pain with some Healing, Cole? Do you? What is your hurt, Cole? Oh! It's the classic abandonment by father, raised by a magical Tlingit elder, taken advantage of by some horror of a woman in need of a Green Card hurt. Well, there is a petite, dark-haired woman who has a Touch that can Heal. HEALING. Woot.

My very, very favorite part is when Cole flies her to a remote location to deliver groceries to the local hermit Asa. While they're flying over the landscape Lara points out a patch of land devoid of trees. "Is that a clearcut from a logging operation?" She asks? "It's a muskeg" Cole replies. "I know it looks like a clearcut but loggers have nothing to do with them." HAHAHA. (At some point, Cole visits the logging camp and talks about how the owner is a good logger and runs a clean show and is real good about cleaning out the creeks. FS propaganda machine is clicking right along here.) After they land, the deliver things to Asa and Cole teaches Lara how to shoot the mythic .375 after kissing her.

The whole shooting scene is an extended metaphor for sex. "She reached for the gun, looking partly defiant but mostly uncertain as her slender fingers wrapped around the stock. It was heaver than she'd anticipated. Feeling its weight, she quickly grasped it with her other hand too." *Cough.* "The safety is off, " he warned her. *Snort.* "You're going to get some recoil and if it's not tight enough you'll bruise yourself when the stock kicks back." Ok, I'll stop now. Guns = phallic objects forever and ever and always.

At some point Lara's roof caves in. Her roof needs some Healing Touches from Cole's Tools. Roof be another metaphor for broken things in need of fixing. This book is positively rife with broken shit In Need.

Poor, knocked up Sally give birth. Lara has to help even though her own, wrecked ladybits will never know the joy of childbirth. Lara, you see, is an empty husk of a woman since she cannot birth no babies. Who will Touch Lara's Womb with some Healing? She cries it out on Cole's shoulder under her new, repaired roof. There is some Healing in the Touching that goes down on Lara's little settee. Cole's even feeling like this Lara woman is Touching his Wounds of Abandonment and he is feeling a bit, dare I say it, Healed.

That damn bear has to make one final appearance after he is released in the wild because he gets a thorn in his foot. Cole and Lara Heal that Thorn with their Touch. Bah.

Cole finally asks Lara to marry him because they are fully Healed with the mutually Healing Touches. He doesn't even care that Lara is only half a woman, he loves her just that much.


  1. Your my new hero. I used to crack up friends by dramatically reading the back-covers of drug store romances... so much joy from the graphic swirlers.

  2. Heh. Thanks. Getting motivated for the next one.