Remy Begnaud has known since childhood that he can control the weather and since puberty that the storms stir up his sexual desire, but he considers this ability to be a curse rather than a gift. He has always felt like a freak and an outcast. No one really understands him, and he has never really belonged anywhere, not even when he was part of an elite military team. After receiving an urgent message from his father, Remy heads out to the remote area of the bayou where he lives. On his way there, a powerful storm system moves in, stirring up his sex drive. Remy arrives to find a beautiful naked woman in the shower and his father nowhere to be found.
Haley Holmes is a para-meteorologist for the elite ACRO team, a group mostly made up of people like Remy who have extraordinary abilities. She was sent to the bayou to assess whether Remy truly can control the weather, and if so, to bring him in by any means necessary. Even though Remy appears to be afraid of hurting Haley with the ferocity of his passion, Haley isn't at all averse to indulging his needs, especially if it will get her the information she wants. She just didn't count on falling for him in the process. But ACRO isn't the only agency who wants Remy's talents. Their evil counterpart, Itor, will stop at nothing to get Remy on their side including kidnapping his father and Haley. But can Remy retain enough control over his ability to defeat the enemy before it's too late, and if he does, will he be able to forgive Haley for her deception?
So far, in my erotic romance reading experiences, I've found that the best books are usually those that focus in on the sex and relationships. With the ones that add other elements, such as science fiction, suspense, paranormal, etc., the plot typically tends to suffer. Not so with Riding the Storm. This novel is like X-Men meets erotic romance, and in my opinion, it was a fabulous story that was a great start to the ACRO series. The overall premise of the series is that a group of men and women who possess supernatural abilities (ala superheroes) have banded together as part of a secret government agency to fight the evil versions of themselves (ala super-villains). I've always been a fan of superhero stories. Riding the Storm is just a super-sexy version of a superhero story, and I can't wait to read more.
Remy is a man with a lot of baggage. He was abandoned on a church doorstep as an infant in the middle of a hurricane that he may have caused. Remy's adoptive father had just lost his wife and unborn child in an accident, and saw it as some sort of omen that he was meant to take this child in and give him a home. He knew from the start that Remy was different. He tried to be a decent parent, but his heartbreak never quite healed. As a result he spent a lot of time at the bottom of a bottle, often leaving Remy to fend for himself. Ultimately, his father sold him out, but at least it was to the right people and he felt bad about it afterward. Remy discovered by puberty that he could control the weather, and that the storms and his sexual desires feed off of one another. His ability has always made him feel like a freak. The superstitious residents of the bayou think he's possessed by an evil spirit and have been trying to spell him since he was a child. Even joining the military didn't really give him a sense of belonging, as most of the other guys were freaked out by his seeming connection to the weather. All the women Remy was ever with were frightened of the ferocity of his sexual desires during storms, so romantic relationships have been all but impossible for him. That all changes when Haley shows up. She offers him a place where his ability will be appreciated, not reviled, and welcomes his sexual intensity in a way he never thought possible.
Haley is a parameteorologist who was sent by ACRO to assess Remy's abilities. She is also tasked with bringing him into the agency if he proves to be as powerful as they suspect. I liked that Haley was so accepting of Remy's passionate nature, that she even enjoyed it and met him with a certain intensity of her own. She does initially keep her true purpose for being in the bayou a secret, which leads to some problems for them down the line, but I still think she proved more than once that he had become much more than a job to her. I loved how she was as protective of him as he was of her. She also gave freely of herself to him and put her life on the line to help save him even though she had no special ability to fall back on.
Riding the Storm has a fascinating cast of secondary characters that I can't wait to see again. Devlin is the enigmatic director of ACRO, the agency he essentially inherited from his parents. Dev is physically blind, but through his psychic talents, he can see things most people can't. He is an incredibly sexy and intriguing man who is apparently nursing a broken heart with a series of meaningless sexual encounters. Then there was Creed and Annika, a couple who were every bit as appealing as Remy and Haley if not a little more so. Annika is super-charged with electricity, and much like Remy she feels like a freak. She also has trouble with relationships because of her inability to control her electrical pulses during sex which can fry the poor unfortunate guy. Creed is a ghost hunter who is followed by a possessive female spirit who doesn't want him getting too attached to any other woman, but he appears to be immune to Annika's ability. With his tats, piercings, and bad boy persona, Creed reminds me of one of the brothers from J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. Annika and Creed spend a large part of the story trying to make contact with an unfriendly spirit in Dev's childhood home. Normally, I'm not a big fan of ghost stories, but this one was very engaging. I really enjoyed how they battled the ghost in the haunted house while also battling their growing passion for one another. Both of these characters have fascinating back stories, and yet, I feel the authors have only scratched the surface with this pair. I would love to see this couple get their own story, but as of yet, that doesn't appear to be the case. I'm not sure if their romance will continue to play out as secondary characters, but I certainly hope so. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of them and learning more about this spirit from Dev's past. Last but not least there were the two operatives Ender and Wyatt. These two are like oil and water. Ender is about as unfriendly as Wyatt is friendly, and they seem to enjoy trying to one up each other. Wyatt will become the hero of book #3, Seduced by the Storm.
Riding the Storm was a wonderful and entertaining beginning to what promises to be a sexy and engrossing new-to-me series. Sydney Croft is a pseudonym for the writing team of Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler, both of whom have pretty impressive resumes as individuals. It looks like Larissa probably drew upon her own experience as a meteorologist for the character of Haley. I'm dying to see what else these two come up with together, as well as exploring their individual backlists, because if this book is any indication, they are both very talented authors.
Note: This book is categorized as erotic romance, and while the love scenes are frequent, creative and ultra-spicy, there is nothing that I would describe as kinky. However, there is one scene of M/M sensuality that may offend some readers.
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