I like this tradition we have. This lovingly-curated GIF edition of THE TELLING TOUCH is full of spoilers and skates over many plot points. Let's get on with it.
It's 1807 and Meg Summers is fourteen. She goes fishing with the boys, is adored by her grandfather and lives her very own Cyndi Lauper fever-dream.
Her 19yo bestie Nick Ainsley returns from university and, like all college guys, is looking hot.
But he has always been more interested in Meg's sister, Isabelle. If Isabelle was an indie band, Nick has the t-shirt from the original tour and argues with internet strangers about desert island tracks.
While Nick is being blind to the Gaping Maw of Doom that is Isabelle's soul, Meg is mugged by Eros in a True Love Stick-up. Oh No! She loves him! Meg has a nifty way of finding out if Nick likes her back.
But Isabelle (also a mind-reader) is not going to tie herself down to a maybe-possibly-future-heir-to-an-earldom when there is a perfectly good earl, if slightly old, lying around unused. They elope. Isabelle gets to be a countess. Nick's future is dashed and he flees to China. Meg is ruined by association. Her late-teens become a massive bummer
We jump six years into the future and the Widow Isabelle returns to the family home because she did not lock down the legalities before running off with an old man and failing to produce an heir. And with old Lord Ainsley dead, Nick, the new Lord Ainsley, comes into town.
Isabelle is delighted.
Meg is nursing a seething resentment that her best friend took off for six years and didn't even text.
Nick keeps visiting Isabelle even when there is yard work to be done.
When Grandfather dies, Meg discovers a new facet of her magic. Instead of picking up stray thoughts, she can read everything about a person she touches. What of Grandfather's last will and testament? Good news! This time, Isabelle did lock down the legalities! She inherits the entire estate.
Though worried about his inexplicable return to Isabelle's orbit, Nick begins to meet Meg down at the fishing stream and they settle into an amiable friendship.
But not too amiable. Just the right amount of amiable.
Of course there is a smuggling subplot. (We are in Sussex. We have to have a smuggling subplot.) Meg's new gift allows her to see into the hearts of the villagers even while she worries that Nick is falling in love with her sister again.
But Nick hasn't been meeting Isabelle on purpose. Meg discovers that Isabelle has a power she didn't know was possible--pushing thoughts from a person's head and taking over their will. This places Nick in danger of being wedded against his will. (Insert mental image of the daughters in 'The Pirates of Penzance' shouting, "Against our will, Papa! Against our will!" Fifty points if you get that reference.) She has a little sit-down with him about Isabelle's magic and its implications.
Obviously, he assumes this is the perfect opportunity to propose and he lays out his calculations. Marching up the aisle together would give her a home and him safety from Isabelle. He is not the first man to think that math will win more arguments than it does.
She tells him no. Many sexy things happen. She tells him yes.
Her social media status is complicated. Meg has to discover how to keep her fiancé-of-convenience safe, fend off her sister, keep the local smugglers from being rounded up... It's a laundry list.
Then Isabelle goes missing. And so does Nick.
Isabelle has kidnapped Nick. Meg has to confront her sister and we see which power will reign supreme.
When Meg is victorious, all they need is to sort out how much of their engagement was fake and how much was real.
*It was all real.
Thanks for coming on this journey! If you want to know more about The Telling Touch, head over to your nearest online retailer. If you've already read The Telling Touch, for the love of heaven, go leave a review!