Shadow Fires

Touched By Light
by Catherine Spangler
(Sensation, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-425-22637-7 
The third installment in Catherine Spangler’s Sentinels series, Touched By Light reintroduces Dr. Julia Reynolds and Adam Masters, the head of the Sentinels, and their struggles to solve a crime while avoiding the physical attraction that draws them together. While the whole Sentinel concept is a little bit far-fetched for even me to believe, (I’ve been known to believe anything I read), the action-filled plot keeps the novel interesting from beginning to end.

Julia Reynolds is a woman who has based her whole life on logic and truth and her career as a math professor reinforces those beliefs. As a young woman Julia was brutally raped and maimed which caused her to attempt to make her life as routine and orderly as possible, but her orderly world is thrown into an uproar when she starts having visions of the future. The otherworldly kind called the Sentinels (former beings from Atlantis that are protecting humankind from evil in the present time) need Julia’s gift to help find their arch enemies - the Belians who are trying to make human sacrifices to keep their god happy. Julia is also a “conductor,” a human who can help enhance the Sentinels’ abilities, usually through sexual intercourse. Each conductor has a perfect Sentinel match and when found they can create a potent psychic force that is useful for solving Belian crimes.

Adam Masters is not only the leader of the Sentinels but also a Sanctioned, a being that is more powerful than a normal Sentinel and with more psychic abilities. He is aware of the location of all of his Sentinels through a psychic link but when one disappears he is at a loss as to how this could have happened. Adam has known for a while that Julia is a conductor that is exactly matched to him - a near impossibility since a Sanctioned has never been matched to a conductor before. He asks for her help in locating the lost Sentinel but she is hesitant due to the uproar it would cause her orderly life and the powerful attraction she feels for Adam. 

In addition to this, the man that raped her many years before is scheduled to be released from prison and she doesn’t want to be distracted by other events. Although she eventually does agree to help Adam, she refuses to do a full conduction which would require them to become intimate with each other. Not trusting men is a result of the attack and she will only help Adam using her gift of seeing the future. Adam too feels the physical pull towards Julia but knowing she has been emotionally scarred leaves him reluctant to force a conduction even though he knows he needs it to find the missing Sentinel.

I hadn’t read the prior two books in the series but it wasn’t too difficult to follow the plot of this installment. I would recommend reading the glossary at the beginning of the book before reading since it sheds light on some of the more commonly used terms. Reading this made me want to read the first two, but it wouldn’t be necessary for much of the plot in this book. 

The one negative about Touched by Light is the large number of new-age terms that are a little bit too uncommon and far-fetched to be believable. The use of “pendants” to align “chakras” so that the “third eye” could be aligned between a conductor and a Sentinel was at times more humorous that helpful to the plot of the story. Maybe I’ve become cynical but the whole conductor/Sentinel needing to have sex to make their psychic abilities more powerful seemed pretty cheesy and like it had been taken from a bad movie plot.

However, even with all of the new-age terms I very much enjoyed Touched By Light.  It is an easy read that kept me turning pages to see what the next twist in the plot would be. Fans of this series will appreciate seeing some past characters come together again and new readers of this series will want to read the rest of Catherine Spangler’s books. The character of Julia is easy to sympathize with and cheer for; her strength is not overwhelming or obnoxious like some heroines. Adam is a handsome alpha male and Julia is a great complement to him. Oftentimes the author makes the main characters of the book too conflicted and in this book it is just the right amount of struggle vs. acceptance. I never felt like the characters were giving up their principles for the other characters. I’m eagerly awaiting Catherine Spangler's next book. 

--Joelle Kollasch  

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