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Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Matthew Ryder
Heroine: Jennifer Gauthier Parker
Date of Publication: February 16, 2016
Started On: January 18, 2016
Finished On: January 18, 2016
I have been stalking Netgalley since forever, in anticipation of the release of the second book in the Fire series by Anne Stuart. As usual, once I had this baby safely in my TBR pile, I couldn’t focus on any other book, which is a given when it is the newest release by the Queen of Romance herself. I finished this in one sitting, which is rare for me these days. I always tend to take breaks now, the days of reading a book straight in 4 hours a thing of the past as I have grown older. But Driven by Fire demanded that I lose sleep over it as I raced to the finish line, determined that I wouldn’t miss out on any of the deliciousness that is a fresh Anne Stuart novel.
37 year old Matthew Ryder is a member of the infamous Committee, a group of high level operatives and assassins who are trained in the art of deception and all the skills required in order to preserve democracy in its member countries. 28 year old Jennifer Gauthier Parker is a member of the notorious Gauthier family of organized crime and political power, one that she has distanced herself from a long time back. A pro bono lawyer, Jenny is hellbent on doing good where her family is determined to live their life doing just the opposite.
Ryder and Jenny’s paths cross during a night that Jenny’s father reaches out to her to save her youngest brother. Stubborn in her belief that her brother is innocent where a heinous crime such as human trafficking is concerned, Jenny is the one who prevents her brother from ending up in the hands of the ruthless operative who stands in her way, and later finds herself turning up on his very doorstep, determined that The Committee help her where one of the victims of the trafficking ring are concerned. Little does she know that once she enters the den that is Ryder’s fortress, nothing in her life would remain the same, ever again.
Ryder might dislike the fact that he and Jenny are thrown together, with both having to stick it out until he can find out who it is that has it out for the seemingly innocent Jennifer Gauthier. A man who is more cynical than most, Ryder prefers his life without commitments of the kind which features women like Jenny. While his reaction towards her on a physical level makes him think that he has gone too long without a woman, his suspicions about Jenny holding back something from him makes for the pivotal point in the story, and one that may turn out to be a tough selling point for many a reader. But true to the style of the legend that Anne Stuart is, she makes the relationship that fosters and grows between Jenny and Ryder one that reaches its ultimate explosive conclusion, delivering a read that is combustible on many a level.
I also have to admit. Between the two books that have been published in the series so far, the clear favorite of mine would have to be the debut, Consumed by Fire. Ryder is ruthless in a way that makes the James Bishop look like a wuss. I am not kidding. But the reason why I love books by Anne Stuart is because she doesn’t shortchange in her delivery of ruthless heroes. She makes them stay true to their character. They don’t turn into a puddle of gooey softness the minute they know of their vulnerability towards the heroine. Just the opposite in fact. They fight their emotions, and they fight it hard, but inevitably its a losing battle – thank God for that. Ryder while ruthless in a way that most readers might have a problem forgiving, I loved him, all that ruthlessness as well. But I did wish that he had to grovel a bit more where Jenny was concerned. But then again, Anne Stuart delivers heroines who are pragmatic at best – while they are strong and independent, they have no qualms about accepting their fate where their love for the hero is concerned.
Jenny is a heroine who has it bad. With a family that cares naught for her, and a family that one should be leery of at best, it is Jenny’s naivety that gets her in trouble as it is. Naivety in trusting the wrong people, in being too trusting – period. With Ryder, even though Jenny knows that she might not survive his brand of ruthlessness, it is because she doesn’t trust Ryder to do right by her that she continues to skirt away from coming clean with him. Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have accepted an agent of Ryder’s caliber to turn his back on his mission, and I think Jenny knew that deep in her heart. I think one of the reasons why readers would have a difficult time in coming to terms with what happens as the story progresses is because there is seldom any talk of Ryder’s past, where he comes from and what makes him tick. Consumed by Fire tended to be more well rounded in this regard which is why it was more splendid in that manner and ended up being the five star read it was for me. But like I said earlier on, I didn’t have any qualms with accepting Ryder and Jenny as they were, but this heart of mine did wish that Ryder would have redeemed himself, just a tad more where Jenny was concerned.
I was ecstatic to come across two characters who are most likely to get stories of their own if Anne Stuart is going to continue with the Fire series, which I dearly hope she does! Jack Abbott and Remy Vartain makes for two secondary characters that appeared in this novel for whom I would love to have their own stories! Especially Jack Abbott. Anne Stuart seldom writes about heroes and heroines who have known each other for a while. For her, it is always a case of a chance meeting that explodes into something hot, worthwhile and long-lasting. Abbott’s story if I am not mistaken, is set to follow the less traversed road and I can’t wait to indulge!
Driven by Fire recommended for fans of ruthless heroes. You don’t need to read the series in order to enjoy this one. But be warned. Ryder will shake and throttle your comfort zones, if you have one where ruthless heroes are concerned. For those who love Anne Stuart’s brilliance in crafting them as they should be, Driven by Fire should be a hit!
Final Verdict: Caught between loyalty towards family & the fiery love for a ruthless operative. This is why Anne Stuart tops the game – every single time.
He pushed his tongue past her teeth, and she shuddered in response. At some point her hands had come up from her sides and landed on his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, which she no doubt would have wanted to do, she was digging her fingers in, pulling him closer to that delicious body of hers.
He wanted to fuck her. It would be easy enough to hoist her onto the butcher-block countertop, yank down that baggy pair of boxers, and thrust inside her. She’d like it—he’d make sure of that— but horny as he was, she wasn’t worth the trouble it would bring.
She opened her mouth to tell him to get off of her. She opened her mouth to tell him no. She opened her mouth to the man who’d hurt her, and she lifted up and pressed it against his.
His reaction was instantaneous. He cupped her face, holding her still, and slid his tongue between her teeth, an intimacy that startled her into even greater arousal. He kissed her with such thoroughness, his tongue dancing, tasting, teasing, and she heard her soft little whimper of response as her fingers tightened on his shoulders and she closed her eyes.
“Please,” she whispered.
He was kissing his way down her neck, over the soft swell of her breast.
“Please what, Parker? Please leave you alone?”
The words filled her with despair, and she shook her head wordlessly.
“Please put your mouth on my breasts and suck?” he suggested softly. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t believe it was her voice. “Please,” she said again.
She should touch him, pleasure him, get him ready—the thoughts swirled through her brain—but then she felt him, rock hard against her, and his solid thrust went in deep, so deep, and she slid her arms around him, pulling him tight against her. Her nipples were so hard they hurt, pressed against the silky smoothness of his muscled chest as he moved, sliding his hands under her butt and lifting her up so he could go deeper still. He was huge, so big she wasn’t sure she could take all of him, but he whispered in her ear, his tongue tracing her lobe, reading her fears. “You can take me. Just relax.”
He was all around her, in her head, in her heart, in her cunt, and she wanted to devour him, own him, never let him go. His slow, steady thrusts made her gasp, getting her used to the size and power of him, stilling her apprehension, stoking her desire, as sweat slicked their bodies until they were slapping against each other, hard, fast, again, again, again.
He braced himself over her, kissing the side of her mouth, letting his tongue trace her lips, slip past her teeth to coax her tongue forward, kissing her as he’d never kissed anyone before. He moved his mouth to her ear, biting into the lobe, and she made a muffled sound of pleasure. “I need more,” he whispered. “I need you to take more of me.”
He felt her hesitation, and he kissed her mouth again. “I’ll help you,” he murmured, licking the side of her neck, and he slid his hand down between their sweat-slick bodies to find the bud of her clitoris.
He was almost home, and he knew he should hold back rather than risk making her uncomfortable, but need was raging through his body, and he needed his entire cock deep, deep inside her. He pulled out, pushing in gently, then pulled out again, and she reached up and caught his arms in her tight grip. “No,” she said. “I want all of you. Give it to me.”
He couldn’t have stopped himself to save his life.
“I’m not mourning Soledad and Billy,” she said in a voice so soft he almost couldn’t hear it.
“Then what are you mourning?”
“Loss,” she said, turning her back on him and walking to the window. “The loss of my brother, loss of innocence, loss in the belief that I knew what I was doing. You.”
“What about me?”
She kept her face averted, her back straight. “I’m mourning the loss of you.”
A moment later he pulled away, and she went flying through the air, ending on her back on the huge bed, staring up at him in shock as he ripped off his clothes, then crouched over her like a predatory beast. “I don’t care if you’re afraid of me,” he growled. “I don’t care if you’ve been hurt. All I care about is fucking you as hard as you can take it. I’m going to make you come so hard you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to hell. I’m going to fuck you so hard that no one will ever come close. You’ll never get me out of your mind, out of your body.”
He kissed her mouth, slowly, deliberately, his tongue making lazy swirls inside her mouth, his teeth biting down on her lower lip, his hand sliding down her stomach to touch her once more, and she could feel the excitement building almost instantly, and she wanted him, so, so badly. “I need you,” she whispered, her voice raw.
“I need you inside me.”
“Then take me in your mouth.”
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