Earth, Wind & Fire aren’t just a band anymore . . .
Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days. Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink, or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye!
It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my Grande Mocha Latte. Of course I got wicked sick. Next morning I’m waking up with this total hottie bending over me. He tells me 1) his name’s Rome Masters, 2) he’s a government agent and 3) I can control the four elements with a thought.
He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation than I am . . . Because now he’ll have to kill me.
In Playing with Fire Belle Jamison is an ordinary twenty four year girl. After her mom died when she was just a toddler, her dad took up both roles of parenting becoming the mother and the father. David Jamison worked hard for his little girl, enriching Belle’s life however was possible within his means. So when Belle got old enough to repay him, she had him quit his job so she could take care of him for a change. With David’s heart condition, however, Belle can not take care of him by herself so he’s forced to live in a retirement community to have full watch over his meds. While David spends his time chasing after ‘silver foxes’, Belle spends every waking moment she can at low-paying jobs to help keep up with the bills for his stay. Within the last year, though, she’s become restless, tired of watching her life just pass her by, and that restlessness has turned her into a bit of a flake. She’s had multiple jobs in the last few months, some she lost for her lateness and others from her attitude. Now she works at Utopia Cafe [a shop similar to Starbucks] and today she’s late. Again. Except today, her whole life will change over a grande mocha latte.
After convincing her perv boss, Mr. Peaty, to give her another chance, she spends the rest of the day struggling to keep her trap shut at the snobbish customers. Finally! Finally, a break! She grabs her favorite comfort drink and snags a table. While enjoying her tasty brew a man in a lab coat storms out of the brownstone across the street with men licking at his heels. He runs into the store and Belle offers to lend him a hand. She goes to call 911 and when she comes out again the man is gone and in his place is another man (stunningly beautiful would describe him best) claiming to be with the CIA. While she continues to enjoy her latte, he asks the crowd simple questions one by one and sends them on their way. Later that night, Belle isn’t feeling too well and crashes out, though, when she wakes up, it’s to Rome Masters (who claims to be from the CDC) but is he an angel sent to help her or is he the devil sent to destroy her?
Belle soon discovers that her latte has been spiked with an experimental drug meant to give its recipient superpowers over the four elements–fire, earth, wind, and water. She’s completely freaked out and to her horror, the new powers are triggered by her emotions. Her only chance at an antidote is Dr. Roberts [crazed lab-coat man], the man who created the super-drug. She discovers all too quickly, though, that not only does she have one paranormal squad after her but she has two. Both are looking to capture her, test her, and use her for their own devices. To make matters worse, her only ally is Rome, who was sent to neutralize her, but instead quickly changes his mind and offers her a deal. He’ll protect her from “Pretty Boy” and his own bosses if she agrees to help him in return. What other choice does she have? She needs the help and the information and Rome is offering plenty of both. She reluctantly agrees, and so the chase is on; she has to find Dr. Roberts before her two enemies find her.
I picked up this book based completely on its cover. I think it’s incredibly beautiful and different from our normal parade of urban fantasy covers. I’ve never read anything by Gena Showalter before and understand she’s the bestselling author of the extremely popular paranormal romance series, Lords of the Underworld. Playing with Fire is first in her Tales of an Extraordinary Girl series and it’s not bad. It really wasn’t what I was expecting, which was an urban fantasy, though that’s exactly what it is, but it’s more of a para-romance urban fantasy, if that makes any sense. The love story normally takes a backseat in urban fantasies, however, in Playing with Fire it is just as upfront, competing with the action. Belle is a spunky average woman. She’s on the lighter side, not angry or bitchy. She’s smart and takes everything in stride. Rome is the ultimate alpha male and with his secret, all his bizarre actions fall into place. Playing with Fire is a light fun read. It has tons of laugh-out-loud moments, which I always find a plus. I finished it quickly, and even if it wasn’t what I was looking for, I’m still curious enough about what happens next to continue the series.
Tales of an Extraordinary Girl [UF]
Playing with Fire-October 27, 2009
Twice as Hot-January 26, 2010
Visit Gena Showalter’s Website