Surprisingly emotional, Spark stunned me by being so much more character-driven than its predecessor, Storm. Touching on Gabriel’s feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, his angst that I found frustrating in Storm, became relatable in Spark. The addition of Layne, both equal and opposite to Gabriel in every way, created deliciously thick sexual tension and showed us a person that could finally balance out Gabriel’s unpredictable temperament. Passionate and heartbreaking and raw, Spark was an absolute treat to read!I wasn’t Gabriel’s biggest fan in Storm. While I wouldn’t say that I disliked him, his seemingly misplaced anger was something that I struggled to understand for most of the book. Fortunately, with Spark Gabriel has become an open book. Embarrassed by his role as the black sheep, the brother who can’t seem to do anything right or without making everything worse, Gabriel is slowing distancing himself from his family. He feels betrayed by their willingness to believe the worst of him, and an aching loneliness at being so emotionally unavailable. This causes him to act out, to inflict harm on them before they can harm him, using his words as weapons. There were so many times when I just wanted to give Gabriel a hug, to hold him close and whisper that everything would be ok and that it wasn’t his fault. When he was vulnerable, he had my heart in his hands. When he was purposely vindictive, I wanted to reprimand him for not trusting his family to have his best interests at heart. Kemmerer did a fantastic job at making Gabriel tortured and angst-filled, without making him pathetic or a mockery.Actually, Kemmerer did a fantastic job with all of her characters in Spark. It took me a little while to warm up to Layne (I couldn’t be sure of her motivations!), but she has this innocence and subtlety that sneaks up on you. While I wouldn’t call her naive, she has this…goodness about her that makes you want to be a better person; she tried her hardest to see only the best in other people, despite constantly being shown them at their worst. I loved that she had the same defence mechanisms as Gabriel, and that they were able to call each other out on using them. I loved that she challenged Gabriel at every step, and that he was so worried about scaring her away, that she was able to speak openly to him and he had to stick around to listen. I loved that she made Gabriel insecure!He’d never given a girl his number and walked off. At the time, it seemed like a great idea – put the ball in her court, leave her with a line and ten digits scrawled in her notebook.Now it was like water torture, knowing she had it, knowing she was making the deliberate decision not to call.Christ, was this how girls felt?I loved her insecurities, and I loved that she didn’t let them define her. I love that she spoke up for herself, and that she was quick to forgive. And I loved her steamier moments with Gabriel.She’d always imagined he would be rough, but he wasn’t. He was gentle, cautious, drawing at her lips in a way that pulled a sound from her throat and made her want to press up against him.Oh. This was what all the fuss was about.There’s absolutely no competition in my mind; I ship Gabriel and Layne wayyy more than I ship Chris and Becca.Spark’s plot was fast-paced and suspenseful, even though it definitely took a backseat to the character development for me. I enjoyed watching Gabriel open up to Hunter, watching him learn how to better control his element, and learning about how all-consuming his affinity for fire could be. I loved the threat the Guides and Becca’s father posed, though I do wish that they had had a bit more of a presence; for an organization that’s supposed to be in charge of removing rogue Elementals, they’re pretty slack about it. Then again, it might have taken away from my Laybriel time, which would have just been a travesty!If you haven’t already figured it out, I loved Spark. I loved watching Gabriel open up and begin to trust someone with his secrets, I loved falling in love with Layne and I loved falling in love with Layne and Gabriel. The Elementals stuff provided a nice, suspenseful backdrop, and Gabriel’s affinity for fire added a sense of reckless abandon that I found addictive and powerful to watch. A certain betrayal towards the end cut deep, and the damaged relationship between Gabriel and Nick pulled at my heartstrings. An emotional read, Spark is a wonderful addition to the series!