Wow, what a bizarre sensation. I first read Touchwood by Karin Kallmaker some 25 years ago. Back then I thought it was strange that the 29-year-old Rayann falls for almost 60-year-old Louisa. I didn’t think it was sexy, and not romantic either. In the meantime, I seem to think otherwise. Of course that has nothing to do with the fact that I have now taken over the role of the older one 😇.
Seriously though. This is a wonderful book for several reasons. First, because it is a very beautiful romance between Rayann Germaine and Louisa Thatcher. Rayann rents a room above Louisa’s bookstore after she catches her girlfriend in their bed with another woman. Louisa is a widow with a son and grandson. She is happy to have Rayann as a tenant because she can help her fix up the store. For Rayann, it’s also a good distraction from her heartache for her cheating ex-lover.
Rayann is curious about Louisa’s sexuality. She can’t figure out if Louisa is a lesbian or not. In the end she turns out to be hiding her sexuality for the sake of her son😯. She wants to hide from him at all costs that she is a lesbian and that she has raised him with another woman for years.
Apparently this has everything to do with Louisa growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Back then it was even dangerous to acknowledge your sexuality. But it’s the 90’s now and things are different, better now. Homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted. Another reason why I loved this story so much is that it depicts this time period.
Rayann unexpectedly falls in love with Louisa, but Louisa (almost) does not respond. She thinks the age difference between them is too big. And then there is her son. Rayann begins an affair with another woman but keeps hoping that Louisa will one day give in. Meanwhile, Rayann is horny throughout at least half the book😏🔥.
I found this story set in the 90’s so confronting because I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. If you compare that time with how it is now, then it’s such a world of difference with regard to gay emancipation. But it still depends on where you live in the world, unfortunately. And it’s not like it’s a done deal either. Vigilance is still required 👀. Karen has written a beautiful image of the time about which she tells more in the foreword of this edition in honor of the 30th anniversary.