October 17, 2012 by Heidi
Title: In a Fix [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Linda Grimes [Website|Twitter]
Standing: Book 1 in the In a Fix series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: September 4th, 2012 by Tor Books
Format: Paperback; 336 pages
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley
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.
I was really excited when I read the blurb for Linda Grime’s urban fantasy debut, In a Fix. I loved the idea of a main character whose career choice was to work as a facilitator–a sort of life coach for those too rich and lazy to actually bother dealing with their own problems. Ciel is a human chameleon, bearer of a genetic trait that allows her to borrow the aura of those she’s come into contact with and take on their appearance. Plus–there were vikings! I’m a total sucker for vikings. They may have not been the best of men, but they were my family’s forefathers (or at least shared their land), and I can’t help but be attracted to stories that contain them.
Linda Grimes totally delivered in In a Fix, it just took me a while to realize that what was delivered was not at all what I thought I had ordered. Sometimes these sorts of surprises are wonderful, unexpected, and enchanting. In this case, it made In a Fix a difficult read for me to pick up and finish any of the many times I set it down. I love that Linda Grimes created a unique world with In a Fix, one in which those with the adapter trait can very conveniently take of the auras of others. They don’t shape change at any molecular level, but the auras make them completely physically that other person. This mechanism actually confused me a bit. I feel like if you’re just taking someone’s aura and not physically shape changing you might be able to fool anyone into thinking you are another person, but wouldn’t you still be physically you under the appearance? Apparently not, taking on the aura of a 10 year old makes you as small as a kid, taking on the aura of a bulky man gives you his strength, but you’re not really shapechanging?
I was willing to let my confusion go and shrug it off as just the way things work, but I soon found the power to be just too powerful and confusing for me. Ciel shares this trait with the two major love influences in the story, her ‘cousin’, Billy (not actually her cousin–but it’s still too weird to be okay) and her brother’s best friend, Mark. When wearing someone else’s aura, these characters can’t even be certain who they are talking to, which had some interesting implications. For example, you could think you were making out with one dude and realize later that it was someone else. That, my friends, is more awkward than a black out drunk. Additionally, this power just seemed too powerful. It sounds basic enough, and I like that it seems to be the only power in this world making it very unique for UF, but it’s just too easy to do whatever you want. A character that can be anybody has so many ample chances to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the end goal, I got fairly bored fairly quickly. The power made any struggles in the book seem contrived, and all of the resulting situations much too farcical.
In a Fix contains a sense of slapstick comedic timing that we might see in a supposedly thrilling romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl. Pro tip: if you found the movie Killers to be unwatchable, you’ll probably find In a Fix just as grating. It was all just too eye-roll inducing for me. Lots of readers will find the confusing scenes with Billy, Mark, and Ciel in random bodies to be hilariously fun and awkward, but to me it just screamed ‘You’re trying too hard!’. I like banter, I like wit, I like sarcasm and spite–I didn’t feel that In a Fix had these.
I didn’t really like the balance of urban fantasy action to romance in In a Fix. I feel like the action wasn’t dangerous enough, the plot line too ho-hum, and the relationships completely under developed. Ciel wasn’t my type of girl. I realize that a lot of women out there date around and love it. That’s fine, but I’m all about the monogamy, and in my books I like to see slow burn true love. Ciel was romantically free enough to kiss 4 different men thoroughly within the first half of the book. Being surrounded by an abundance of attractive men, contractually obligated to seduce, and taking advantage of every opportunity by playing the make-out card just doesn’t appeal to me as a reader. I honestly didn’t know which way the romance would end up leaning, but the fact that I was unhappy with where it went certainly added to my dissatisfaction. That said, I never fell for either joker Billy or dependable Mark, so I likely would have been unhappy regardless.
In a Fix was a finely written start to a new series, one that many UF fans will love. It simply wasn’t the type of story or characters that I look for when I pick up a book. The vikings fell flat as a villainous crew, the slapstick humor was not to my taste, and the instant gratification just made it feel cheap.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:
Nope, this obviously is not the hot new Urban Fantasy series for moi.
Those who enjoy urban fantasy containing completely non-traditional paranormal creatures and don’t mind a flighty lead girl–lots of people have been loving this one, so check out some of the reviews below for a different take.
Get a second opinion:
Bibliophilic Monologues – “Strongly recommended for those who love wicked wit in their protagonists, delicious kisses and just sheer irrepressible fun.”
Gypsy Book Reviews – “There’s action, there’s romance, and there’s jokes. What can get better?”
The Nocturnal Library – “Can you imagine Kate Daniels with a diary full of her name combined with Curran’s last name, surrounded by little hearts? I think not…I want well-defined worlds, admirable characters, solid plots and decent writing at the very least. Grimes achieved none of those things.”