Haley Holmes is a smart, non-nonsense young woman who works as a “parameteorologist” for the mysterious ACRO—Agency for Covert Rare Operatives, investigating mysterious weather phenomena. Unlike the electric-charged Annika, the ghost communicator Creed, and many of ACRO’s other Special Ability operatives, Haley doesn’t have any paranormal talents. However, she’s got what she needs for her current mission: to track down and seduce Remy Begnaud, and convince him to join forces with ACRO, before the evil opposition agency Itor gets hold of him. She’s gorgeous, tough, single-minded, and due to a rough family history, she’s not likely to be distracted by incidentals like love.
Unlike Haley, Remy is blessed—or cursed—with a highly unusual capability, the power to control weather and summon storms. His power is linked to his sexuality. Heavy weather brings on unbearable, insatiable arousal. Meanwhile, when he gets horny, clouds gather and thunder roars. Remy doesn’t understand his talent, and can just barely manage it. It has made him a misanthropic loner and isolated him from most women, who can’t handle the force of his lust.
When Remy and Haley meet, sparks fly, and I’m not just talking about lightning here. As you might predict, each tries to get the better of the other, all the while enjoying wild, extravagant sex that would wear out normal mortals. Meanwhile, despite Remy’s suspicion and Haley’s cynicism, they find themselves falling in love. They find that they have matching tattoos, a fist clutching a lightning bolt. As they race to escape the inhumanly cruel forces of Itor, they discover that they are psychicly linked, and can communicate and make love even when they are separated.
If you think that the plot outline above sounds somewhat over the top—a erotica version of X-Men, perhaps—you’re not completely wrong. Nevertheless, RIDING THE STORM is great fun. The book is vivid, lively, well-written, sexy and romantic. Haley and Remy have enough flaws and idiosyncracies to be interesting, even though they’re in some ways typical romance protagonists. Both their conversations and their sexual interactions crackle with energy. The authors (Sydney Croft is the pseudonym of a pair of writers) turn the metaphor of sex as hurricane into literal reality, to excellent effect. Remy’s shack in the bayou is a wreck after the storm has passed, after Remy and Haley have fucked each other into oblivion: windows shattered, door torn off its hinges, branches littering the floor. Remy and Haley are a mess too, muddy, bruised, bleeding, but just aching to start again.
The book even pokes a bit of fun at romance clich’s:
“Something in her expression must have betrayed her, because he reached out, cupped her cheek. An instant, sizzling spark arced between them, and she knew he felt it too, because his eyes flashed with confusion and annoyance.
‘I’ll take care of you.’
He swallowed her protest with a kiss, like he thought she’d swoon and follow him anywhere just because he could do things with his mouth that were probably illegal in this god-forsaken state.
Of course, when he slipped his tongue inside her mouth, tasting of toothpaste, she did sort of melt against him. Her body went all pliant and hot, and her mind went all blank and dizzy.
She swooned, dammit.”
Haley and Remy are not the only ones getting laid in this novel. Creed manages to seduce the prickly Annika, who is still a virgin because she tends to emit fifty thousand volts at the moment of orgasm. And Dev, the blind psychic who is the head of ACRO, seeks relief from the memories of his true love in the flesh of his assistants and friends.
The couplings among these characters serve as counter-point to Remy and Haley’s passions. However, the various sub-characters and subplots are never integrated into the main story. Creed and Annika are investigating a haunting in Dev’s childhood home, which may reveal the mystery of his history and identity. However, the authors don’t tie up these threads. Dev, Creed, and Annika become minor subcharacters as they join the final battle against Itor. This sloppiness in plotting made me suspect that the other sex scenes were added just to heat up the book and provide some sexual variety, or else that the authors hit a deadline and didn’t have the opportunity to play out their other ideas. It’s a shame, because Creed and Annika are strikingly original characters.
Another weakness in the book is some muddiness about the nature of Remy’s power. Storms cause him to become uncontrollably horny; on the other hand when he’s aroused he can summon storms. There seems to be a circularity or logical inconsistency here.
However, in the final analysis, one should not read RIDING THE STORM for the plot or the premise. Read it for the sizzling, believable sex scenes which don’t get boring even though there’s hardly a single kink; for the vivid descriptions of Cajun country; and for the old-fashioned satisfaction of seeing true love triumph.
© 2007 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.