In a Fix
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.
This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.
Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.
Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.”
Let me say first of all that Grimes has created a pretty unique premise. Most books about shape-shifters allow the characters to retain their own personalities and quirks, but Ciel’s powers cause her to take on aspects of others’ personalities. This means that she not only has to take care to know the person’s likes and dislikes, but she has to be prepared to endure emotions and urges not her own. It’s an interesting twist and one that I wish could have been integrated into the plot a little more instead of being mostly a gag.
That said, the gags can be very funny. One of Ciel’s disguises is a man that is almost constantly horny, and taking on his aura means dealing with the physical complications of such feelings. Her friend Billy first shows up in the story wearing the aura of the Queen of England and dressed as a typical tourist. Even Ciel’s job contains the seeds of comic misunderstandings—stepping into someone else’s life to solve their problems is bound to create opportunities for things to go horribly wrong.
Unfortunately, there were other aspects of the book that kept me from enjoying it. The romance portion of the novel takes over the narrative far too often, alternating between Ciel’s two male companions, and Ciel herself spends way too much time obsessing over them. Worse, neither man treats Ciel with respect, filling pages with condescending attitude and male posturing. I never came to like either of them because of the way they acted towards the main character.
Because of this, the plot is hampered and doesn’t move along very well. Most of what I read followed the formula of “something happens, the men tell Ciel to let them handle it, she sneaks out and gets in trouble, she gets bailed out” on endless repeat, interspersed with Billy and Mark vying for her attention. Cutting out a lot of this back-and-forth would have strengthened the plot.
In a Fix has an interesting premise that is marred by too much romantic interplay and too little respect shown to the main character. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with this series, but I am curious to see if the author can play around more with her shape-shifter concept and flesh it out more.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on February 21, 2013.