My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
After reading Cantrell’s Bride by Suzanne Ferrell, and enjoying it thoroughly, I was itching to read another story from this author. Bella’s Touch seemed just the type; short and from the blurb, I gathered the hero has been injured in the war (if you can’t tell, I have a weakness for scarred heroes ;) ).
Michael, who was an aspiring artist before the Civil War, returns as a recluse. No one knows what has happened to him or why he refuses to return to the booming city life that he was once a part of before the War.
Arrabella, or Bella as Michael used to call her, has waited for her lover to return and finalize their marriage. She’s also Michael’s mentor’s daughter. While staying as an apprentice under her father, Bella and Michael bonded instantly. They became lovers in a very short time, falling in love quite desperately. Their union was so perfect, when Bella gets a letter from Michael saying he wants to break the engagement post haste, she just can’t believe it. He hasn’t even been to see her after his return! Bella needs to know what’s going on, which is why she makes a lone journey to the rural Ohio, to confront her erstwhile lover. She hopes to change his mind, somehow, because the man in the letter doesn’t at all read like her Michael.
At the small cottage beside an almost abandoned farm, Bella finds things in total disarray. It was once Michael’s family home but no one apparently lives to make it more of a ‘home’ than just a hovel. Michael seems to be living completely alone. He doesn’t meet up with anyone, and from what she can see, hasn’t taken care of his place for a long time. As a matter of fact, it’s very cluttered and dirty.
At one point, Bella finds him asleep on his bed. Now, the only thing she can think of how long it has been without his touch and how much she craves it. Well, it was a bit surprising but they end up having sex, Michael knowing it was Bella, yet not really conscious enough to know how the hell she came to be at his cottage.
In the next few chapters, we see some important issues addressed but the most important has to be Micheal’s blindness from a war wound; the reason why he has decided to give up living, hiding away in this shabby old cottage. Then again, breaking his engagement to Bella was probably punishment enough for him.
Though Michael can’t see his Bella clearly any longer, his heart still beats faster to find her close. He’s as elated as confused, which is soon replaced by panic and subsequent anger. Didn’t he break the enjoyment so that she forgets about him? Then why the hell is she here? Michael decides that he has to make her leave, somehow, for surely she deserves a better life than living with some blind recluse.
This is, of course, totally unacceptable to Bella. She’s willing to fight for Michael, even if he’s trying his best to push her away. The ploys don’t work with her and soon, Bella also makes a decision; it’s time to show Michael that blindness hasn’t made him less of a man. If they’re to have a future together, which Bella wants desperately, he needs to understand that she loves him still. She’s definitely not leaving him alone to his fate!
With Bella’s touch, Michael begins to heal. They talk of things, mostly about his vulnerabilities of an uncertain future, of how he was sure Bella would never want to be with half-a-man like him. Of how the nightmares of war kept haunting him, enough that he’d get drunk each night to get into a state of stupor and forget everything else around him. But now, with Bella, he has begun to dream again of a better life. Maybe they have a future together after all.
But their happy reunion doesn’t end for long. A shadow from Michael’s time at the war returns to haunt them both. Even though Michael seems to be getting back to ‘life’ with Bella’s help, this seemed to be one of the reasons why he thought he’s not good enough for her. But things have changed and Michael is not giving up now. He must prove to himself that he is still able to protect Bella as a man protecting his woman and keep her out of the harm’s way.
I could see why this was very important to Michael. He needed that reassurance, a male thing I get it. Haha But this also boosted his flagging confidence to a new level (and I don’t mean in the obvious area, he was good at that no matter :p). I certainly was happy for Bella’s acceptance of him just the way he was, glad that she fought for their love and brought Michael back from a certain downward spiral. I’m sure Michael would agree!
3.5 stars, recommended for a fast read as I enjoyed this novella.