Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Touched by an Angel by Gini Koch
Published by DAW Books, 2010


Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt had just finished a day on jury duty.  When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on.  Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple--a domestic dispute that looked like it was about to turn ugly.  But ugly didn't even begin to cover it when the "man" suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of a grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree.  In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing.  Instead she got mad, searched her purse for a weapon, and, armed with a Mont Blanc pen, sprinted into action to take down the alien.

In the middle of all the screeching  and the ensuing chaos, a tall handsome hunk of a guy in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, examined the body, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with "the agency," called out to an Armani-clad colleague to perform crowd control, and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his "boss."

And that was how Kitty's new life among the aliens began...

This book is a know that feeling when you are click-clacking your way up that first rise, anticipating the free-fall to come and then whoosh!! you are screaming, laughing, flying with the wind whipping your hair around, adrenaline pumping.  You reach the end of the ride and climb out of the car with shaking legs immediately ready to get in line and go again...well, this book is just like that roller-coaster ride.  What a rush!

Kitty Katt (gotta lover her parents' sense of humor!) is leaving the courthouse after jury duty when she sees a fender bender, and as the drivers get out of their cars, it becomes clear that the drivers are spouses.  Not so crazy, until the man sprouts wings and begins ripping his wife apart--and then his wings start shooting knives into the nearby buildings, many of which have glass walls.  Kitty doesn't have time to think, she searches through her purse (that practically becomes a character in this book) and comes up with a pen that she uses to stab the alien in this, gelatinousy-pulsating-blob attached to its back.  Why she does this, Kitty doesn't know--it's instinct as much as anything, but it works and the alien dies.  About this time some seriously attractive men in Armani suits show up taking over the scene and ushering Kitty into a nearby limo.

Then things get, weirder.  Kitty meets Jeff, who instantly wants to marry her, Christopher who is really good at glaring, Paul Gower who tries to keep the peace, and Richard (never Dick) White who seems to be in charge.  They begin initiating Kitty into their world, that of the Alpha-Centaurions who have immigrated to Earth in order to protect both it and their home world from the parasitic creatures that take over host bodies to wreck havoc.  Kitty catches on very quickly that there is more to the story than that and makes it her hobby to ask questions and assimilate information. She learns that there is one parasite in particular, Mephistopheles, that needs taking out.  It has hosted in the body of a terrorist leader named Yates, and is much harder to kill than the others. And it has taken a special interest in Kitty.  Now, Kitty and her new alien companions need to come up with a plan to save Kitty, the Alpha Centaurions, and Earth itself.  

Kitty is a hoot, she is quick on her feet and extremely snarky but in a very fun way.  Jeff, who is an empath, immediately decides that he wants Kitty and makes that fact very clear to her, which disconcerts her to a degree, although she decides to roll with it.  Christopher, Jeff's cousin, is harder to get a handle on as he tends to snap and glare, but he has his reasons and when the chips are down he is very dependable.  James Reader, a retired Calvin Klein model and fellow human, gets Kitty in a way that the Alpha Centaurions can't and I loved him.  He acts as a driver for the A-C's as they have super-fast reflexes and have trouble with vehicles of all kinds due to this...which leads to a very interesting scene later in the book involving Kitty, Christopher, and a fighter jet.  Just saying, there were times I thought I was going to hyperventilate, I was laughing so hard!

I haven't even mentioned Kitty's parents who have secrets of their own, Lorraine and Claudia, two A-C's who become great friends and colleagues with Kitty, Tim, another driver who is slower to warm up to Kitty's place of authority, or a group of pilots who literally fly in to help save the day.  

Oh gosh, this review is so piece-y but I don't want to give away too much of the plot because you just have to experience it for yourself.  And, the characters?  Even the minor ones have great quirks and well-developed personalities.  Gini Koch is a genius with dialogue and character development.  Yes, she made me laugh out loud multiple times (not a great book to read in public for that reason) but she also writes great tension and there was one part where I fell apart.  I was so caught up on the story and then something happened that broke my heart (and Kitty's) and I lost it.  I was a sniveling mess but bless Kitty's heart, her reaction, which was very true to who she was, had me cheering through my tears.  She is such a take-no-prisoners, balls-to-the-wall character when you threaten someone she loves.  

Writing a match for such a strong character could not have been easy, but Jeff Martini is absolutely fabulous.  An empath who recognizes Kitty as the one he wants from the first time he sees her, he makes it clear that he wants to marry her and have lots of kids.  This should have been creepy, but his laid-back humor made it sweet instead.  Jeff comes off as very easy-going but he has layers that are slowly peeled away to reveal the strength and sexiness that are a result of some very harsh experiences.  There is a reason he was chosen as a leader of his people, he is capable of making the hard decisions that not many would want to have to live with.  He fits with Kitty so well providing her with the strength and love she needs to keep going. The story takes place over a fairly short amount of time, but I believed the emotions between Jeff and Kitty.  I will be glad to spend more time with them in sequels, although I wish that I could get a book about Christopher.  At least he should continue to be a major character in upcoming stories--I just hope he gets an HEA of his own.  

This book rates a 5/5.

I borrowed this book from my local public library.

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