A Glimpse of Fire
I’m always looking for the next great romance novel, but sometimes a fast, easy read that’s entertaining for a few hours is just what I need. A Glimpse of Fire is that kind of book. It’s not great by any means. The premise is whisper-thin, the conflict virtually nonexistent, the story about as substantial as a puff of smoke. And yet, even as I recognized all the reasons I shouldn’t be enjoying it, it was a mostly fun read.
Dallas Shea grew up in a family of overachievers and was expected to be one too. Instead, despite earning her MBA, she turned her back on a career in business and became a construction worker. She likes the job, even if it means she has to put up with sexist comments from some of her less enlightened co-workers. However, it just so happens that Dallas is a former model as well (that’s right – she’s a construction worker/ex-model with an MBA. Only in romance novels, folks). One night, one of her friends who works at a department store needs someone to fill in for one of the models as a live mannequin in a window display. Wouldn’t you know it, it just so happens that Dallas always had an uncanny ability to stand perfectly still for extended periods of time. With some reluctance, Dallas agrees to help her friend out and be in the window display.
Eric Harmon is the first member of his family to go to college and avoid a life working in the steel mills in Pittsburgh. Now he’s a rising star at a Manhattan advertising agency. Still, he can’t help feel the difference between himself and some of his co-workers, with their more privileged backgrounds. One night he and his friend Tom are heading to a bar after work when he spots a beautiful mannequin in a red bikini in a window display. She would be the perfect woman, if only she were real. However, when he turns away, Dallas moves, something Tom sees but Eric doesn’t.
Deciding to play a joke on Eric, Tom contacts Dallas and invites her to a company dinner. Dallas caught a glimpse of Eric from her position in the window and thought he was handsome, and since she has nothing better to do on a Saturday night Dallas agrees to attend the dinner. Just as Tom intended, Eric is shocked when the mannequin arrives at the party and turns out to be alive. But now that his perfect woman turned out to be made of flesh-and-blood after all, he can’t resist asking her out for a date. Eric and Dallas start to go out, with Dallas being coy about who she is and what she does for a living for no reason that holds up to much scrutiny. This being a Blaze, hot sex ensues.
I’d be the first to admit that this premise is pretty goofy. Forget taking it with a grain of salt. Swallowing this is like trying to choke down a rock. Eric thinks the construction worker/ex-model is a mannequin, so his co-worker tries to pull a prank, which she’s willing to go along with just…because. Okay, sure. It’s to the author’s credit that I was willing to go along with it. She has a pleasant style and this is an easy read.
Much of my tolerance for the premise had to do with how much affection I had for the characters. Eric and Dallas aren’t deep or well-developed by any means, but they’re both likable and interesting people who I enjoyed spending some time with. Eric’s blue-collar background and unease with the preppy types he finds himself surrounded is easy to empathize with. Dallas may be an improbable character, but I like unconventional people, and she certainly fits.
There’s no real plot or conflict. Eric and Dallas spend time together. They have sex. There’s a subplot where Dallas gets together with other women dealing with sexual harassment on the job to do something about it. The story’s as thin as paper, but it moves quickly, with charming scenes and good moments. It’s nothing too dramatic or compelling, just a nice, easy read with characters who are likable enough to make it worthwhile. That’s true until the end, when the author tries to dredge up some conflict, except it’s really forced and doesn’t really make much sense. The ending tested the limits of my good will, and it’s a good thing the story concluded shortly thereafter before it could break completely. The resolution ties everything up a little too neatly to be believed, and I was glad the book was over before I could think about it too much.
A review like this runs the risk of sounding either more positive or more negative than it’s intended to be. A Glimpse of Fire isn’t the kind of book I would necessarily recommend. It’s not a great book or anything likely to stick with me. It’s just a fast and easy book that hit the spot.