Playing with Fire
Belle Jamison is having a bad day. Arriving at her coffee shop job late again, she maneuvers out of being fired only to be slipped a drug in her grande mocha latte by a strange doctor being chased by men “trying to kill him.” Belle doesn’t realize she’s been drugged and falls deathly ill for the next few days.
This is the beginning of a fun, witty, sexy story. Written in first-person, Belle has a fresh voice that, while cynical and sarcastic, is true to her age, surroundings, and characterization.
Belle wakes after a few days to find a tall, sexy man in her apartment who wants to “neutralize” her. Belle knows this is code for kill and puts up a weak fight. This is when she learns she now has powers: The ability to control the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water).
Luckily for her, Rome, our tall, dark and sexy neutralizer, is already quite smitten with our Belle. He decides to keep her around instead of turning her into his boss. Once Rome is in the picture, things really start to get good. The duo needs to find the strange doctor to get an antiroaddote while teaching Belle how to control her powers. This is harder than it sounds when one has psychos chasing them down.
Rome is an agent for a paranormal security agency that controls, tests, and uses humans who were either born with or accumulate special powers. His is the “good” agency while others out there, such as the one currently tracking Belle, is “bad”. The story has a Fantastic Four/X-Men feel to it. I’m not usually into the comic book or action movie thing, but it was well done here. Didn’t hurt to imagine Hugh Jackman as Rome. I think Gena Showalter might have been on that same wavelength when creating his character. Yum!
Belle thought life sucked when she was trying to hold down a job in order to pay her dad’s nursing home/medical care/black-market Viagra bills all the while trying to enjoy her life as a young twenty-something in the city. Now she is either burning or freezing everything in sight and being chased by groups of men who want to experiment on her…before they kill her.
I really liked Belle. Her life revolves around her loving, the stud of the nursing home. He took care of her all her life and now it’s her turn. She forced him into retirement when she graduated high school so she could take care of him. This is a defining characteristic. If not for this bit of info, I might have thought she was more than a bit flaky. Somehow, through the sarcastic remarks and bitchy comments, she is endearing.
Rome sidekick extraordinaire Tanner is the only secondary character to be fleshed out. Even if you don’t like Belle, I would recommend reading this one just for Tanner. This 19-year-old wannabe Casanova is hilarious. He joins the ranks of favorite supporting players for me.
Another thing I’d like to point out: One of the things I enjoyed most about the use of first person in this book is that it’s not riddled with pop-culture tidbits. I find that a problem with most contemporary titles these days, particularly those written in first person. There are a references here and there, but they are well placed and the humorous effect is far more pronounced. There is truth to the old adage; A little goes a long way.
All told, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Playing With Fire is packed with just enough action, well placed (very hot!) love scenes, great characters, and hilarious dialogue. The lack of dimension to almost all of the secondary characters and the somewhat clumsy foreshadowing that begins most chapters are my only complaints. Both are rather easily overlooked and heartily recommend this to one and all.