**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Series: In a Fix #1
Published by Tor Books on September 4, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
AMAZON • B&N • BOOK DEPOSITORY • Goodreads
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, the debut urban fantasy from author Linda Grimes, is a lot of fun. This is not a dark UF but rather a fun, light read with a likeable heroine and an interesting world.
The best part of In a Fix is its intrepid heroine, Ciel Halligan, facilitator, fixer, and aura manipulator extraordinaire. Ciel really is the heart of this story. Ciel is one of a very few people who can manipulate her aura to replicate someone else’s. The effect? She can appear to be anyone she’s come into contact with. Not a true shapeshifter, but rather an aura adaptor, someone who can manipulate energy. Ciel is good. Very good. She’s just surrounded by big brothers who think she needs some protecting. I completely identified with the little sister syndrome that plagues Ciel on so many levels in this story. As a younger sibling myself who grew up with boys, Grimes hits the nail on the head in terms of Ciel’s constant struggle to declare her independence, capability, self-sufficiency, and strength. And this is something Ciel sometimes has to convince herself of as well as her brothers. I just loved her. In Ciel, Grimes created a wonderfully engaging, funny, and relatable heroine. She made me laugh with her self-deprecating humor and her smart comebacks and constant need to prove herself. Oh, and there’s a scene involving her boobs and champagne glasses that cracked me up. Priceless.
The entire concept of an aura adaptor is also something completely new to me. Ciel’s family is made up of aura adaptors, there’s a whole tight-knit community made up of them. Their existence is pretty much a secret with the exception of high-level CIA ops who know the ability exists and who exploit this rare talent to its advantage. I was fascinated by the idea of aura adaptors and recognized immediately the story potential it provides for a UF series. It also made for some funny, mistaken identity moments that added laughs to the story.
The supporting cast revolves mainly around the love triangle between Ciel, Billy (an aura adaptor who’s like a brother), and Mark (her brother’s best friend, aura adaptor and CIA operative). Ciel is majorly crushing on Mark who only sees her as a little sister; meanwhile, Billy is throwing hints her way that he might be interested in something more. The back and forth between these three is funny, familial, and easy. I loved the chemistry but wasn’t too interested in the triangle. Both men have to be appealing and I found myself completely uninterested in either of them. If I had to choose, I’d go for Billy. He at least trusts Ciel’s ability to take care of herself.
Another aspect that didn’t really work for me was the overall mystery that drives the plot. It’s a bit complicated so I won’t go into it but it involves neo-Vikings, body wash, kidnapping, and the Swedish intelligence agency. It was far-fetched, comedic, a bit slapstick and, honestly, not very interesting.
Finally, I wish Grimes let us see just how good Ciel is at her job. Many of her decisions ended up getting her in trouble. She was capable of getting herself out of it but it would be nice to have seen her decisions result in immediate success.
If In a Fix was adapted to a film it would probably be along the lines of a fantastical romantic comedy which is a refreshing twist in a genre that tends towards the dark. This is a fun new series and I will most definitely check out the next book mainly because I loved Ciel so much. A great heroine will always bring me back for more.