“Tainted Touch” is a well-written book full of witty dialogue, which is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. It's also a book of contradictions. There are humorous lines almost every other page, but these are balanced by some serious angst. The first half of the book is appropriate for a Young Adult audience as there is tremendous drama over holding hands and the first kiss, while the second half of the book includes several, explicit sex scenes. Much of the book focuses on the romance between Cait and Art, but a literary subplot contemplating the meaning of life is also included. Sometimes the overly complex plots gets in it's own way, but overall “Tainted Touch” is a fun, rewarding read.
The heroine, Cait, describes herself as “more conflicted than your average bag of snakes” and that's a good description. She was mentally abused by her ex-boyfriend whom she hilariously describes as a “deluded scrotclown”. The scars linger and effect her ability to not only form new relationships, but even to simply touch other people. Cait is supported by a wonderful cast of friends who add lots of life and laughs to the story. It's easy to sympathize with her struggles, while simultaneously rooting for her to get her head out of her ass.
The plot doesn't fall victim to the usual cliches, and Cait's issues with self worth seem all too real. However, the books is a bit slow, and seems longer than the advertised 336 pages. At one point Cait says, “We've spent so long on the cusp of kissing that sometimes, I forget that we haven't.” I wanted to jump up and down and yell “Yes, I know. Now get on with it already!” The author was making a point about Cait having trouble being touched, but the build up definitely drug on too long. The sex scenes were good once we finally got to them, but the explicit language was like a slap upside the head with a wet flounder because it was such an abrupt change from the page after page of earlier turmoil over even touching lips.
The hero, Fist Candy - also known as Art, is a mystery for much of the book. He's the hot, new massage therapist whom Cait lusts after at work. When he returns her interest, she's shocked. Art has his own demons though, and his difficult history is revealed as their romance progresses. He's a true blue kind of guy though, and definitely qualifies as an upgrade in the boyfriend department.
This review would not be complete without mentioning the cake. It's practically a character in the book. Most of the characters are students, and while their world should revolve around studying, it mostly revolves around cake and Instagram. Vanilla, chocolate, and everything in between are represented. If you make it through this book without falling victim to a cupcake, you're a better woman than I. Be prepared.