ARC Review: Taken By Fire

Posted June 21, 2011 by Jen in 5 stars, Erotic Romance, Paranormal Romance, Rating A, Reviews Tags: , , , ,

Taken By Fire
Author: Sydney Croft 
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: Bantam Dell
ACRO Series #6 (final book)
ISBN: #978-0385342292
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Erotica
Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book
I received a copy of this book from the author for the purposes of an honest review.

From the author’s website:

     A product of genetic manipulation, Melanie Milan shares a body with her malevolent sister Phoebe. A sleek, blonde predator with a heart of pure darkness, Phoebe puts their body through the wicked underbelly of sex for thrills—when she’s not igniting her pyrokinetic skills for an evil organization bent on taking over the world. Melanie rarely gets out to play—much less fall in love. But that changes when rival ACRO agent Stryker Wills shows up, with a mission to take out the woman who torched his partner.
     An operative with rare abilities, Stryker soon realizes that the woman he’s about to kill isn’t the murderous fire starter he’s hunting. But he does want her. Melanie, with the power to ice anything in her path, is heating things up in ways that are setting his blood on fire. As long as Melanie stays in control, she is his best ally to bring down her sister and stop hellish havoc from being unleashed. Walking a tightrope of longing and hate, Stryker and Melanie begin to understand that true power lies in sweet surrender to each other, to the fire between them, to the erotic adventure that’s joined their hearts and abilities to become their salvation—and perhaps the world’s.

What I’m talking about:

     WARNING: This is the sixth and final book from the ACRO Series by Sydney Croft (Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler). Although you could read this book as a stand alone… please don’t. This series is so worth a read – it’s only 6 books! (You can read more about the entire series HERE.)  Taken By Fire is the PERFECT series finally and you would miss out on so much if you read only this book.  With that in mind, this review contains SPOILERS from the first 5 books, so move forward at your own risk!
     Taken By Fire takes place less than a year after the dramatic conclusion of the previous book, Tempting The Fire, when ACRO agent Stryker witnessed ITOR (bad guys) agent Phoebe kill his best friend by burning him alive. We discover that Stryker has been hunting Phoebe to bring her to justice.  But when he finally locates her, Stryker learns that Phoebe shares her body with her sweet and mostly innocent sister, Melanie. Since it appears that Melanie wants to bring down ITOR as badly as ACRO does, Stryker is ordered to bring the sisters in alive.  This begins their heated relationship, and with each passing day, Stryker realizes he cannot hate Melanie for the crimes of her sister, and he allows himself to fall in love.
     I joked on Twitter about how hard it is to write reviews for books you love – my solution… here is my review: THIS BOOK ROCKS… READ IT. That is all.  Okay, so I need to say more, I know. First, the primary love story of Mel and Stryker… it was so hot! They start out as perceived enemies, neither really wanting to be with the other, but never completely evil to the other. I loved the internal (and external) struggles that they both experience – I could feel Stryker’s turmoil as he attempted to reconcile falling for the (sister of the) woman who killed his partner in cold blood.  And poor Melanie – her life controlled by and ruined because of her evil sister and father. She understands why no one will trust her, but it still hurts.  When the two finally come together out of lust and pent up desire: WOW! Taken By Fire out does the eroticism of all the earlier stories.  (Let me just say that there is an ice dildo involved in one explosive scene and a spatula in another!)  Their relationship is really well written – I didn’t feel any sparks between the two in the beginning, and I’m not meant to… they find their way together as they open up to each other and learn to trust.
     Now for “everything else…”  My favorite couple, Annika and Creed, are fairly front and center. We found out in the last book that Annika is pregnant, and that the ghostly Oz (brother of Creed and former love of ACRO leader, Dev) predicted that if Annika has Creed’s baby she will die.  Oh, and Oz’s premonitions are never wrong. I completely adore this couple and how they have come so far since the first book. Being pregnant hasn’t made Annika any softer, but she has matured. I’m not going to tell you what happens; however, be prepared to shed a few tears while on this emotional roller coaster.
     Dev… oh Dev. I LOVED Dev and Oz together. Ms. Croft BROKE MY HEART in an earlier book, but now Dev has Gabe. For me, Gabe and Dev never had the strong emotional connection I saw with Dev and Oz, but in Taken By Fire, Dev and Gabe put it all on the line to cement their connection.  In addition, Gabe and Dev have some intense and HOT smex, and there is a m-m-m threesome that *fans self* um… you will need to cool off some! And although I am satisfied with how things played out and ended, I still felt more emotional pull between Dev and Oz’s ghost than Dev has with his new love, Gabe. It still was an amazing storyline and I really can’t complain about it one bit.
     Taken By Fire wrapped up everything from the first 5 books while giving hope for the future generations. It truly was everything you expect and want from a series finale (and never seem to get). I was emotionally drained by the time I finished… Cursed out the authors a few times… but it was an amazing journey. Every loose was end tied up in a uniquely fitting way. Yes, there are happy endings, but they aren’t forced and did not feel contrived. I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: Sydney Croft is a master of sensual story-telling, and the ACRO series is in a league of its own.

My Rating:

Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
(But you must read the ENTIRE series!)

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