Book Review: In a Fix by Linda Grimes

Paperback: 336 Pages

Series: In a Fix #1

Publisher: Tor Books

 

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The start of an original new urban fantasy series starring human chameleon Ciel Halligan

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.

 

In a Fix is Grimes’s debut novel and the first book in a new UF series. Now, you all know (or maybe you don’t) that I’m always on the look out for another UF series like, say, Mercy Thompson or Kate Daniels, that I could really get into. As such, I thought I’d give In a Fix a try, since the blurb sounded interesting.

The novel’s heroine, Ciel, is an adaptor, a person with a genetic mutation that allows her to replicate someone’s aura perfectly, thus imitating their appearance, voice, smell etc. There aren’t many people with this particular mutation and the ones that have it tend to stick close together. Her friends, Billy and Mark, are adaptors too.

This is not a perfect novel, far from it actually. Both Billy and Mark are characterized as the two most insufferable, obnoxious, patronizing and annoying characters ever. They are both overprotective of Ciel, in that “weak, little woman” sort of way and that just irks me to no end.  I wouldn’t be going far if I called them chauvinistic when it comes to their behavior toward Ciel.

Blatantly ignoring her while she’s talking, treating her like a child, that made it so much harder for me to see her as the heroine she is supposed to be.

For her part, Ciel does a good impersonation of a dim twit at times, getting herself in trouble because she just can’t do what she’s told, not once. The trouble she manages to get smack dab in the middle of? Some nasty business with a neo-Vikings splinter group who is trying to bring back masculinity to Scandinavia by dosing people with steroids. I know, right? Anyhoo.

When it comes to the relationships she has with the two men in her life, Ciel is no more than a hormonal teenager, somewhat of a problem seeing as her hormones seem to keep her from standing up for herself.

However, Grimes lets her characters grow, for which I was so very thankful while reading the book. My urge to throw it as far away as I could, each time I read some more condescending lines from the guys, gradually subsided as I kept reading. Ciel becomes less and less of a petulant child and more of her own person, while at least one of the guys decides to accept that as face value.

Maybe I shouldn’t even take out my frustration on her, really, since the only reason she acts the way she does is because of Billy and Mark. Take her stubbornness and rash decisions out of the equation, she’s a sassy, funny character that I can like.

Although the idea of taking on an aura, and everything else that comes with it, was interesting, I think that it could’ve been handled with more care. There’s a point, at the beginning of the book, where Ciel is an old lady, Billy is Mina, Ciel’s client, Mark is Terry and none of them is sure who’s who and..it got so confusing, I got a headache from it.

I also noticed some inconsistencies. When we are introduced to Billy, he comes in the appearance of Queen Elizabeth. Not even 10 pages later, we’re told that pinching someones aura can only happen if you have contact with them. Well darn, color me confused. So he touched The Queen of England? Huh.

Also, if only a few people are supposed to know about adaptors, how can Ciel manage a business out of doing what she’s doing a.k.a slipping into her customers lives?

So now you’re probably wondering why I gave the book a 3.5 star rating. For all its faults, In a Fix made me laugh. Hard!  The writing was good, better than what I expected from a new author, and it was damn funny. Hilarious.

 

“Great. At long last naked in front of Mark, and I looked like a plucked chicken. A cadaverous blue plucked chicken. And I was shivering like a Chihuahua at the North Pole. A half-dead, blue, plucked-chicken Chihuahua, with teeth chattering like castanets. Could it get any worse? I sneezed, spraying snotty saltwater all over myself and Mark. Wonderful. Never, ever, question if it can get worse. It can always get worse.”

“The nearer I got, the thicker the Vikings got, and the more they had to scramble to get out of my way. But none were fast enough to escape the flying shit. They tried, though. Boy, did they try—they parted like the Red Sea, leaving me bearing down on the small central group standing in the middle of the boat grave. “

“For the first time all day I didn’t care who my groom was. Mark. Billy. Jay Leno. Hell, he could be Groucho Marx’s bastard grandson, as long as I got a piece of that beautiful confection.”

 

Call me easily amused, but those are funny.  This book made me laugh out loud. Ciel’s “voice” was funny and easy to follow, and by the end of the book I liked both her character and that of Billy’s. The plot moved at a consistent pace and there was lots of action too.

Overall, once I got over the first half of the book and Ciel started getting smarter, I enjoyed and was entertained by this novel, and for that reason I’ll read the next installment in the series.

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