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REVIEW: Tempting the Fire by Sydney Croft

Dear Ms. Croft:

A story about the elusive Chupacabra, a hot bad guy who isn’t what his file makes him out to be, and two hot women, one with psychic powers and the other living with a curse, in a South American jungle dealing with a mythological creature sounds pretty exciting. However, there were elements to both the story and the writing of Tempting the Fire that didn’t work for me.

Tempting the Fire by Sydney CroftSela Kahne is an operative working for the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (otherwise known as “ACRO”. Hee…you made an acro for ACRO) and is a trained cryptozoologist. She’s back from a cryptozoological conference and for some reason, is covering her attendance at the conference as a vacation. Within moments of her return to work, Sela is told she’s going to the South America to infiltrate a company called Global Weapons Corporation (GWC). ACRO has gotten a hold of a very strange US military recording of what may be an attack by El Chupacabra, and there is a GWC camp in the area that may have either taken out the SEAL company or may have sent their monster to do it.

Sela does have special powers (other than a degree in cryptozoology), which is why she’s an agent for ACRO. She’s psychic. But her psychic powers only kick in when the person she wants to read is having an orgasm. Now that I see that written in black and white, it’s absolutely hilarious. Sela originally worked for ACRO as a Seducer (which seems to be an entry-level position from what I’ve gleaned from the book). On her last Seducer assignment, Sela was beaten to within an inch of her life by some sadistic no-good criminal, so she won’t work as a Seducer any longer which makes it odd that she’d be used for field duty…except in a case like the Chupacabra. Sela and another female operative are headed to the jungle to let GWC capture them. There, Sela will be able to get as much information as possible on the Chupacabra and the other operative, Marlena, will act as the Seducer, working on Logan Mills, second in command at GWC. ACRO’s very interested in GWC’s activities. Agents have discovered that GWC has been contracted by Itor to produce and sell weapons. Itor is public enemy #1. If all of this sounds confusing, make no mistake, it is. The first chapter of the book is very info-dumptastic and the reader is introduced to a huge cast of characters, all of whom we’re supposed to care about.

Once things move to the jungle, the book gets more interesting and less confusing. Of course, ACRO’s plan of having Marlena seduce Logan doesn’t work out (shocker). The story between Sela and Logan is interesting and there is real character development. Marlena and Chance’s storyline is significantly less engrossing, and borders on simple hormonal sex. I think a lot more could have been done with these two and we could have spent a lot less time with the third storyline. This occurs at ACRO HQ and pulls the action away from the jungle and it annoyed me to no end. I couldn’t figure out why Creed and Annika were so important, so I went and looked at the authors’ backlist to see if they had their own book. Imagine my surprise when I found out that 1. they don’t and 2. they’re slated to have one at some point. I’ve read so much about the two of them that I’m not interested in reading any more. Out of all of the characters introduced to me in Tempting the Fire, I found Annika to be annoying and acting on the verge of stupidity and Creed to be stubborn and boring.

Sydney Croft is the pseudonym for Stephanie Tyler and Larissa Ione. I don’t think I’ve read any stand-alone books from either author, and this book, while having exciting elements and some interesting characters, couldn’t hang together for me. I felt that Sela and Logan’s relationship and even the secondary story of Marlena and Chance were shortchanged due to the gigantic cast of characters not integral to the main story that took up so much space and time. C


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Sydney (better known by her handle, Shuzluva) knew that she wanted to be Han Solo's copilot after seeing Star Wars at the tender age of 5. She fell in love with romance novels over 20 years ago when she got her hands on Sandra Brown's Texas! trilogy, and in the mid 90's was overjoyed to discover romance writers had branched out into the world of SciFi/fantasy. While she enjoys the occasional contemporary or historical novel, the world of SciFi holds an unshakable fascination for her. Some of her favorite authors include Nalini Singh, Catherine Asaro and Kresley Cole, and she's always interested in adding new authors to the list.


  1. lil
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 13:26:16

    Annika and Creed have been the secondary storyline in the preceding books. If you haven’t read them, I can see how their storyline might be confusing.
    Having read all the books in the series, I can say that what happens for them in this book irritated the fuck out of me and almost turned it into a wall banger.
    Despite that, my vote for most annoying character would be for Gabe.

  2. Carolyn
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 14:17:11

    But her psychic powers only kick in when the person she wants to read is having an orgasm.

    When I read that I went “Oh for Pete’s sake!” out loud and one of my coworkers told me Pete was getting tired of the responsibility, lol. Sorry, but I didn’t finish the review. Maybe later, have to find Pete and apologize.

  3. cate
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 15:54:17

    Creed & Annika – confusing – bloody irritating by the time I’ve gotten to this book ! Give them their own book , or drop them as active characters. To use an American phrase “Enough already !”
    BUT – If you haven’t read Larissa Ione’s books (set in an ER for demons basically) RUN -do not walk -to your nearest bookshop/computor terminal. & indulge yourself in one of the more original paranormal series to be published in the last couple of years.

  4. lil
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 16:39:47

    I enjoyed the beginning part of Creed and Annika’s story in the first two books but once they got together, it went downhill for me. I do have a fond spot for Annika – I know, I know, she’s immature and an ass but she is also a psycho which I find kind of refreshing for a female character.

    I have also read Ione’s demon series….but despite an original premise, I find each book becomes more and more ordinary. The male leads are pseudo anti-heroes and the more I learn about them, the less I like them. There are only two kinds of women in the series – heroines and violent murder victims. What I found appealing about the first book was the community Ione was writing about. It’s hard for me to stay engaged when she keeps red shirting her secondary characters. I do love the hospital setting but I wish it was utilized more.

    Despite Tempting the Fire, I much prefer the Sydney Croft series.

  5. J.
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 17:08:49

    I much prefer Larissa Ione’s Demonica series than the Sydney Croft ones. I tried it but it didn’t work out for me. But I do agree, lately each book in the Demonica series has started to hold less interest for me. It’s pretty depressing. Nevertheless she’s still on the auto-buy list so hopefully she’ll bring it back :)

  6. Jane
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 17:57:05

    @lil It sounds like we are all better off not reading the preceding stories!

  7. lil
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 21:54:24

    Of the Sydney Croft series? That depends, I guess. I really liked the second one in the series – it worked for me. And the first and third had their moments.

  8. Ellie
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 04:02:53

    I loved the Croft series until the last one, and I could tell with the Marlena set-up that I just wouldn’t care about this one. As this series went on, it got less interesting.

    Same is true for the Demonica series for me, although I will buy the last one. The first one grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, and then the grip loosened with every book.

    I always found the Croft series to be way out there in terms of storyline, but the characters were pretty likeable. Mostly I don’t like how expensive the books are.

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