Friday, May 1, 2009

Review: Touched by Fire

Title: Touched by Fire
Author: Catherine Spangler
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Sentinels/Book 2
Published: October 2007

Nath's Re-Read Challenge 2009

Since a brutal attack on her sister eleven years ago, Marla Reynolds has been emotionally frozen - but one man's passion could melt her defenses...

For the past eleven years, Marla has avoided relationships with men. Then she meets Luke Paxton in a Houston bar and is upended by an intense attraction she doesn't understand. But Luke does - it is an energy he must harness to achieve his goals. He is a Sentinel, a member of an ancient superhuman race. His purpose on Earth is to track unimaginable evil, and he needs Marla - willing or not - to help him focus his psychic powers. But as Luke draws Marla deeper into a supernatural world, he finds himself torn between protecting humanity - or yielding to the fire of her touch...

I choose this one for Nath's Re-read challenge because the third book in the series, Touched by Light, is finally coming out this June. It's been over a year and a half since Touched by Fire was released and I feel like I've been waiting for this next book a very long time. I enjoyed Marla and Luke's story and hope to see them again in the next book. Marla in particular I really liked for her realism and her determination.

Structure and control. Those are some things Marla truly values. She needs her life to be structured and predictable. She needs to feel in control of every aspect of her life. Being an accountant fits right in. It's not a job that lends itself to spontaneity and Marla is not the type for having flings or taking off on a moments notice. She enjoys planning. So when she meets Luke Paxton in a bar the last thing she wants is a one-night stand. And the fact that she thinks Luke is gorgeous while she considers herself "plain and brainy" makes it hard for her to believe that he's interested in her. The only reason she's in the bar to begin with is to give a co-worker a ride home. Otherwise, Marla would have been home with her pooch, Bryony.

Luke Paxton is hunting a killer. The killer happens to also be a Belian. The Belians are the bad guys that are being reincarnated into humans. Their purpose is to spill blood, lots of blood, as offerings to Belial, who they worship. Luke is has also been reincarnated into human form but he's the good guy, a Sentinel. He has some super powers but is still in a mortal body so he can be killed. His powers allow him to track the killer but those powers are enhanced when he is connected with a Conductor. Conductors are not exactly plentiful and finding a good match between Sentinel and Conductor isn't always easy. Lucky for Luke, Marla is a Conductor and a great match for him. He just has to convince her to help him and he's very short on time.

As I read this again it reminded me why I enjoy Ms. Spangler's writing so much. She writes smart, witty characters with all the flaws and quirks that make them seem real. Not only do Luke and Marla have wonderful scenes together the secondary characters make this a fully developed world. Luke and Marla both have family members in the story and they not only give insight into what makes the hero and heroine tick they also show the couple in different situations rather than it being just the two of them always alone. Seeing how Luke and Marla are when around each other's family members adds more complexity to their characters. They both care deeply for their family and have some funny and tender moments with them. Luke's dry humor was a treat to read and his interaction with Marla's dog just added a comedic flare to the story.

The killer that Luke and Marla are trying to find wasn't at all funny but a really sick psycho. The author lets the reader into the killer's head as he plans his next target. He also has Belial in his head, guiding him and encouraging him to cause more destruction. It's like a tremendous high for the killer to please his master. I love when an author creates a worthy antagonist for the hero/heroine to battle. Spangler has certainly done that here.

The plot moves at a well orchestrated pace with Luke, Marla and gang traveling around Texas trying to get ahead of the killer before he strikes again. The relationship between Marla and Luke begins with them being forced to work together. Since they are spending so much time together they eventually get to know a lot about each other. The sexual attraction is very strong, especially with them being an excellent match. And while they try to maintain a non-sexual relationship because of Marla's past experience it's no surprise that they eventually give in to the attraction.

There is a glossary in the front of the book that gives brief descriptions of the specific terms and beings in the series. It's not too complex but fairly easy to follow. Ms. Spangler is also the author of the futuristic Shielder series. I haven't read it yet but have heard some great things about it. More info can be found at the author's website. Definitely glad I read this one again and June can't get here soon enough.

Rating: A-


  1. Sounds interesting! I'm tempted though it's a series and I'm not sure I need one more right now. *g* Does it stand alone well?

  2. Hi Taja ~ It could be read as a stand alone. The author gives enough backstory that it's easy to follow along.

  3. Wow, this sounds really good! I love stories about accountants, for some reason. Why have I never heard of this series????

    Okay, this is book 2 Do you need to read book 1? Probably.

  4. CJ - The h/h from 1st book are in this one but Spangler gives enough info plus the glossary that you could skip 1st book. I did like it and would recommend it. There's an excerpt for it on her website.

    I heard about this series on a reader forum - The Phade - it's the one Kmont runs. Fun site with a variety of discussions and great people.

    I don't think Spangler has a strong web presence. I do hope she does some online interviews or promos prior to the next book's release.

  5. Sorry about the above link opening in this tiny window. :(

    Here's the link -

  6. Leslie, thank you for that review. It's a great recap of the book... as you said it's quite a while since I read it too and it seems a long time to wait for the third one. I wanted to do a re-read before it came out, but don't know if I'll have the time, so this was a great refresher for me. I'm liking what Spangler is doing with this series.

  7. Hils - I didn't re-read the first book but had no problem remember what was going on. Spangler did a good job jogging my memory. And I can't wait to see Adam and Julia together!