Baptism in Fire

Overnight Groom

Touched by Fire
by Elizabeth Sinclair
(SRS #1486, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27556-0
Touched by Fire is a sequel to Baptism in Fire. If you have read the previous story, this sequel may be a keeper for you. But I havenít read it. The references to the old story and the loose ends this story tied up didnít completely make sense, thus lessening my enjoyment just enough that I actually struggled with whether to recommend this tale. In the end, however, the strength of the suspense and the heat of the romance won out.

Samantha Ellis is a firefighter, and a good one. She is also part of a team of investigators known as FIST. And now, someone appears to be trying to kill her. A.J. Branson is a fire investigator who is part of the Orange County Police Department. He is best friends with Luke and Rachel from Baptism in Fire. He just happens to be attracted to Sam, who is also attracted to A.J. And now, someone is trying to kill Sam. Or so it seems. She almost dies in a fire, her car is blown to bits when she should have been in it and she almost dies in another fire. A.J. becomes her protector.

Samantha is a strong character and hates that she has to sit and wait for some nut case to try and kill her again. In addition, she doesnít want to be attracted to A.J. She had been dating a man who she discovered was married and this left her emotionally vulnerable. A.J. has been through a divorce, and he too doesnít know what he wants out of a relationship. All they know is that they care for each other and their attraction is strong.

A.J. is a bit of a wounded hero. He has issues and one involves trying to decide if he can be around Sam and not feel vulnerable. He has even made inquiries into leaving Florida and taking a job up north. These inquiries result in a job offer and now he has to choose.

Their romance was intense however, and they burned up the sheets. I liked them together and it was enjoyable watching them fall in love. The one slightly dissatisfactory part was the misunderstanding that they didnít talk about until it was almost too late.

Meanwhile, the suspense is strong. There are not threats per say, but clearly Samís life is in danger. When the brakes to two cars she was to ride in are cut, it points to someone close. This adds to the suspense. The details of the fires and the experience of being in the midst of the fire are clearly well researched. I felt the heat, the fear and the danger. This is what suspense writing should be. I guessed the culprit fairly quickly, but the motive was unclear. This is where the backstory comes in and left me in uncertainty. While everything was tied up in the end, it didnít leave a completely satisfactory taste.

Touched by Fire kept me engaged and riveted to my seat while I was reading it. As I write the review, I realize that there are parts that I disliked. However, the fact that I didnít want to put down the book points to a recommended read. It is worth it for the suspense and the ultimate satisfaction in the romance.

--Shirley Lyons

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