Gini Koch‘s Touched by an Alien [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] opens with Katherine “Kitty” Katt killing a rampaging alien with a Mont Blanc pen. Based on this act of impulsive heroism, a group of hot aliens from Alpha Centauri recruit her into a secret organization devoted to finding and stopping these evil superbeings.
If you hadn’t guessed, on a scale of fluff to serious, this one falls closer to the fluff end of things. Which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve written a fair amount of fluff myself, after all. This world needs more light, fun stories!
As with most books, there were things I liked, and there were things that didn’t work for me as well. It’s a quick-paced story with plenty of action, both alien butt-kicking and romantic/sexual. And I appreciated that Koch used her A-C aliens to explore religious prejudice and other issues. It wasn’t just heroic aliens coming to fight evil; there was a bit more backstory going on there.
The biggest thing that bothered me was the way the relationship between Katt and the A-C Jeff Martini progressed. The explicitly sexual scenes weren’t a problem, but the jealousy and possessiveness both Jeff and another A-C display toward Katt cross the line into creepy, as in this exchange:
He grabbed my upper arms. “Prove it.”
“Prove what? Jeff, I–“
“Prove who you belong to.” His eyes flashed as he pulled me to him and kissed me.
I know this sort of aggressive domination comes up in a fair number of romances. And I recognize that there’s a lot of fantasy and wish-fulfillment going on in this book. All of the A-Cs are gorgeous, the men and women both, but they’re only interested in intellect and personality, making Katt the hottest thing on the base. And Katt has some of that Harry Potter chosen one thing going on, where she’s the one who discovers most of the solutions and saves the day. In a more serious novel, I don’t think it would work. In a lighter wish-fulfillment book, it mostly does.
I know that for some people, having a hot, sexy man (or woman) aggressively pursuing and dominating you can be a very attractive fantasy. But Jeff kept setting off my domestic violence warning bells. There were external reasons for some of what happened, but it didn’t work for me.
I’d say that if your warning bells are similar to mine, that might be a problem in reading this one. On the other hand, if you appreciate that kind of fictionalized/fantasy romantic aggression and assertiveness, I suspect you’ll really enjoy the book.
Overall, there’s a lot of fun stuff going on here. And the audience is obviously out there, judging by how well the books have been doing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m the right audience for this one.