September 2012, Fantasy Fiction
Tor, $14.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0765331802
Finding new fantasy or science fiction releases that are the first in the series is not an easy task, so when I do find one, I immediately request to review it. While In A Fix utilizes some not so favorite plot devices, the author’s witty narrative and dead-on character interaction make this a fun, entertaining read.
As per Ciel Halligan: “Shape–shifting is a bunch of crock.” No one has the ability to change on a biomolecular level. The real truth is people like her have a genetic quirk that allows them to adopt other people's auras and thus be perceived as that shape. While that sounds great on paper, unless you are a spook or a criminal there is limited need for this ability. However, Ciel has developed her own little niche. As her business card states she is a “Facilitator" or “Intrepid Fixer of Other People's Problems.”
Mina Worthington‘s problem is that she is tired of waiting for her boyfriend Henry Howard Harrison III (or Trey) to put a ring on it. So she hires Ciel to close the deal, even going so far as giving Ciel permission to sleep with her future fiancé, convinced it not really cheating if he thinks he is having sex with her. Everything is proceeding as planned, when the next thing she knows Trey has been kidnapped and their bungalow is blown to smithereens.
Even before she has a chance to deliberate on how to handle the situation both Billy Doyle, her mother’s best friend’s son, and Mark her brother’s best friend are on the scene. Since their mothers spend so much time together, Billy is just like family and a thorn in her side - even though every once in a while she is surprised at how attractive she finds him. Mark, her longtime childhood unrequited love fantasy and CIA operative doesn’t seem to realize that she is a grown woman now. In fact both seem to think that she should be on the sidelines, letting them solve the case. Still Ciel does help thwart the kidnapping.
The story told from Ciel’s point of view is humorous and funny. She is gutsy and bold. She chafes at being perceived as the weaker sex and while she doesn’t have the stomach for agency work like Mark and Billy do, it doesn’t mean she's not capable of protecting her own client. All understandable feelings, but at times I did think that she needed to step back and let the pros handle the action. Still since it is handled with absurdity it didn’t bother me as much as it would have if this had been more dramatic.
One of the big strengths of the book is the connection between Mark, Billy and Ciel. From personal experience I know how brothers treat a sister and Ms. Grimes perfectly illustrates this type of relationship with realistic dialog and interaction.
The assuming of auras is great fun, albeit a little confusing at times especially when Billy, Mark and Ciel don’t realize each other’s fakery which leads to farcical humor. In fact the plot is farcical with the introduction of a group of Vikings planning to reclaim their heritage of strength and honor. Even Queen Elizabeth makes a cameo - or is she just a doppelgänger?
The romance is low key. For a long time it is not clear who will become Ciel’s love interest. There are hints for one character more than another but still there is a certain amount of ambiguity. I realize that many readers enjoy a heroine having options but triangles for me are unsettling.
While I haven’t found any information about this book being the first in a series, it does read that way, especially with the happy for right now type ending – which I did find satisfying.
I enjoyed the book because it did make me laugh; still, I do have these reservations. If you are one of those readers that who doesn’t need everything spelled out in the first book, then you will find plenty within the covers to entertain you.
-- Leigh Davis
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