The start of an original new urban fantasy series starring human chameleon Ciel Halligan.
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The ideal vantage point for observing a half-naked man was definitely across the rim of a crystal champagne flute. Especially when the champagne was expensive, the backdrop was a postcard-perfect Bahamian beach, and the man was that one.
He had muscles in all the right places under summer-bronzed skin. Hair on the long side, wavy and breeze-blown, streaked naturally by the sun. No phony salon highlights for him. When he flashed a smile it was sparkly clean, bright, but without that annoying Chiclets perfection. The icing on the beefcake: he didn’t even glance at the bikini-clad beach babes strolling by, some of them close enough to reach out and touch. His ocean-blue eyes were mine alone.
God, I love my job.
He slid into the chair across from me at the boardwalk bistro and lifted a bottle of Dom from the ice bucket. “Another glass?” His question was moot—he was already pouring.
I shrugged. What the hell. There’s always room for more champagne.
He filled a glass for himself and raised it. “To us.”
“To us,” I echoed, gazing into eyes that had the late-afternoon sun glinting in them like miniature whitecaps on a stormy sea. (Normally I gag when overwrought poetic comparisons pop into my head, but this time I was too busy heaving a happy sigh.)
“Mina, I thank heaven every day for the piece of luck that brought you to me.”
“No, I’m the lucky one,” I gushed. The sentiment was surprisingly true. Sure, his words were corny. But he was sincere, and that made it romantic.
It was enough to make me wish I really were Mina.
My client’s soon-to-be fiancé—Henry Howard Harrison III, nicknamed “Trey” for the “III”—took some bills from the wallet he’d just retrieved from our bungalow and anchored them under the ice bucket. He pulled me out of my chair into sun-warmed arms.
“Let’s go back to the house,” he whispered, one hand chasing goose bumps down my back. When he got to the top of my sarong he slipped his fingers beneath it. My breath caught in my throat, hampered by the sudden pounding in my chest, and I leaned in for a kiss that would have knocked my socks off, if I’d been wearing any.
Damn. I could almost feel guilty about taking money for this.
Before I was overwhelmed by … um, let’s call it remorse … he yanked the brightly colored cloth off my waist and ran away with it, tossing me a wicked grin over his shoulder. I was left standing, stunned, in a thong bikini I would never consider wearing as myself.
The corners of my mouth lifted. But I wasn’t me right now, was I? I was Mina. Wilhelmina Augustine Worthington, to be precise. Rich, pretty, pampered … and having fun. I gave chase.
* * *
I reached the front porch of the bungalow minutes after my quarry, puffing from the run. Really, Mina should exercise more. The trouble with borrowing somebody else’s aura is that you get their level of fitness along with it. Not that I’m one to talk. My favorite aerobic activity is reading steamy romantic thrillers. I figure an increased heart rate is an increased heart rate. Why quibble about methodology?
I dabbed my dewy brow with the sarong before tying it back around my waist. I’d found it snagged on a wood-encased garbage bin on the boardwalk—a distraction, no doubt, to slow me down. Obviously our boy liked games. Okay by me. I was ready to play.
“Tr-hhhey?” I wheezed as I went in, blowing silky strands of black hair out of my face. Make that almost ready. But I was sure I’d be fine in a second. Slow breaths, in … out. There.
He wasn’t in the living room or dining area. It was one big open space, tastefully furnished in expensive beach modern, and there was no seminude male figure in it. It wasn’t something I’d overlook. The kitchen was a bust, too.
The door to the bedroom was ajar. Ah. Perfect. I took a second to adjust my bathing suit top, knowing Mina wasn’t the type to approach even a spontaneous romp in bed with boobs awry. They were great boobs, too. I’d miss them when the job was done.
No signs of life in the master suite. The bed was still made, which wasn’t odd since we hadn’t actually been to bed yet. Trey had flown in after I’d arrived, and he’d met me on the beach. I always like to have my first encounter with a significant other in a public and fairly lively place. The distractions help smooth over any small inconsistencies I might show before I get a bead on what I’m dealing with. Trey hadn’t presented any great difficulties—he was pretty much exactly how Mina had described him when she hired me. Adonis incarnate.
Just thinking about him made the king-size bed look a lot emptier.
“Trey? Honey? Where are you?”
I’m cool. I can get with a good game of hide-and-seek. But he wasn’t in the closet, or under the bed either.
The bathroom. He was probably in there, just waiting to fill up the tub and play dock the submarine.
Okay, that was a crude and totally un-Mina-like thought.
Not that I could help it. When you grow up with a bunch of guys and a propensity for eavesdropping, crudity is the default mode when sex is on your mind. It’s a situational hazard. Still, I tried hard to stomp it down, along with other vestiges of my real identity—Ciel Halligan, Facilitator. Intrepid Fixer of Other People’s Problems. (Yeah, I know. Goofy. What can I say? I read a lot of comic books as a child.)
My job is made possible by a genetic quirk that allows me to adapt my aura into an exact copy of another person’s. No, it’s not shape-shifting, which is a crock, by the way. Give me a break. Shape-shifting on a biomolecular level? Directed cell morphology—the actual physical changing of tissue—takes time, and lots of it. It wouldn’t be practical. Aura adaptors deal in energy. Much faster, and quite a handy trait for someone in my line of work.
Guess you could say I’m a kind of life coach. At least, that’s my cover with all but the select few nonadaptors who know about us. Only instead of teaching people how to solve their own problems, I just do it for them. My clientele tends to be more comfortable with delegating than learning.
The only tricky part of the job is getting the internals right. The personality. But this time I was determined to stay totally in character on the job. Looking, smelling, and sounding exactly like another person wasn’t enough. To give a believable performance I had to immerse myself in the client’s psyche as well. Otherwise, the whole illusion could collapse around me like a bad soufflé, and I couldn’t afford that. I had bills to pay. Big ones. If I screwed this job up, I could say bye-bye to my business.
Alas, the bathroom was empty, the large array of foaming agents and botanical oils on the counter untouched. Huh. This was getting a little weird. Oh, well. I’m flexible. He had to be around here someplace. While I waited for him to emerge, I ran a handy brush through Mina’s hair. Primping in front of a mirror was certainly in character.
Wait a second … that’s odd. There was a smudge on my forehead. I peered more closely at my reflection. It looked like—
I grabbed a tissue, moistened it, and dabbed the spot. Sniffed it.
It was blood. When had I…? I scrubbed my face clean. No cut. It wasn’t me.
The sarong. It must have been on the sarong. I pulled it off and examined it. Sure enough, there was a still-damp (ick!) splotch, camouflaged by the gaudy, crimson-flower print. I did a quick personal check, even though I knew good and well it wasn’t that time of the month for Mina. All clear.
So what happened? Had Trey tripped and skinned his knee? Maybe he’d gone to the resort’s clinic to get it bandaged. But why would he do that when he had someone right here, ready and willing to play doctor? No, he must be hiding. I just needed to be patient.
I twitched. I don’t really do patience.
My eyes settled on Trey’s luggage. I hesitated, but only long enough to come up with a plausible excuse to use if he caught me: But, honey, you were gone. I found blood. I thought something was wrong—I had to search for clues.
I shrugged. Worked for me.
The bags contained the usual well-off bachelor vacation assortment. Casual clothing, a few dressier duds, a shaving kit with some wonderful-smelling toiletries, a velvet ring box, a spare bathing suit—
Whoa. Back the expectation train up. A ring box? Had Mina turned the reins over to me prematurely? I flipped open the hinged top and was nearly blinded by the flash from the solitaire. I whistled, long and slow. That sucker had to be at least three carats. High clarity, emerald cut, platinum setting. The man was serious.
Well, bite me. Now I couldn’t in good conscience employ any gratuitous persuasive techniques to obtain the marriage proposal Mina so desperately wanted. That part of the job was officially over as soon as I found the ring—professional ethics wouldn’t allow otherwise. (Professional ethics suck.)
My disappointment was interrupted by the sound of Mina’s cell phone.
On the other hand, it occurred to me with expedient clarity, I would be derelict in my duty if I didn’t give the job my full effort until that ring was on my finger. So I dove for the phone and answered with Mina’s sexiest hello.
“Mina, get out of the house.”
“What? Who is this?”
“Get out. Now.” It was Trey, his words tight with fear.
“Trey? What’s the matter? Where are—”
I was cut off by another voice, darker, with some sort of accent I didn’t recognize. “Miss Worthington, I suggest you do as Mr. Harrison says. Take your phone. You will be contacted shortly.” Click.
What the…? Crap. I clutched the cell and ran out the front door. Twenty yards later I was knocked off my feet by a teeth-rattling blast. When I looked over my shoulder, there was a pile of debris where the bungalow had been.
Copyright © 2012 by Linda Grimes
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I will start by telling you, this is not a YA book, it is an adult series. It is an action/thriller with fantasy elements to it and it was fantastic!! This book had a great storyline, plenty of action, and takes you on quite the adventure. I thought it was a creative and fun story and had to know what would happen in the end. Most of the characters were really awesome and I love getting to know them. Ciel has her own business helping people solve their problems by adopting their aura's and standing in for them. It's good money (when she get's paid) and she likes doing things on her own and not having to answer to anyone else. She does rent her brother's condo and rent office space from him, but it's her own business and she likes it. She was likable for the most part, but there were times when I was really annoyed at how stupid she could really be and the bad decisions that she makes. She's ballsy for sure and has some pretty bad a** moments, but I just could help but be irritated at her more than liking her most of the time. I really did like the secondary characters a lot, and I am hoping that we get a lot more of Billy and Mark in the next book. Heck, I could do with a little more Trey too. Mark is a bit on the intense side, but I get why he is. I really want to know more about him. Then Billy who seems like the ladies man, player...I think that that is mostly a front, either that or he is willing to leave all of that for Ciel. He is most definitely swoon worthy. The story is very fast paced and full of action. I mean we start off with the bungalow getting blown to shreds and Trey being kidnapped. It just gets better and more dangerous from there. Ciel is in way over her head. Good thing that Billy and Mark were keeping tabs on her because really, she needs them whether she wants to admit it or not. This is way bigger that she ever could have imagined. They now need to track down the vikings who kidnapped Trey, but Billy and Mark want Ciel to stay out of it so they can take care of it. Um, yeah right!! Well, they all seem to take on all sorts of different aura's and at first I was a bit confused by it, but easily was able to keep track and tell who was who after. They travel all over the place, face a lot of dangerous situations, and uncover secrets about what is really going on. I thought that this was a great book with an awesome plot and enjoyable characters. Yes, there is a bit of a love triangle, but only slightly and it's done well, so it didn't make me roll my eyes. (Though I did want to smack Ciel a few times) I only wish that Ciel had had a little more character growth. It seems to me that after going through all of that she might act a little differently, but she still seems to be a bit reckless and not thinking about the bigger things. She only thinks about things directly affecting her and not everything as a whole. I hope that she matures a bit in that aspect in the next book. Overall though I really enjoyed this and thought it was great!
This book was SO MUCH FUN. I expected a kickass character-I mean, just look at that cover-with the viking helmet and the redhead standing over it? You know you're going to get something hard core. But what I wasn't expecting were the hard core laughs. This book, about Ciel, an aura adapter with a serious need to prove herself to the overprotective men in her life, is funny, witty and sexy, with not one, but two (maybe even three) hot guys that vie for her attention. But what I especially loved about Ciel was that she wasn't a bombshell that you would expect men to drool over-the men in her life were attracted to <i>her</i>, the quirky and tenacious woman who can definitely hold her own in the company of strong men. Several laugh-out-loud moments pepper this action-filled page turner. My only complaint was I know there's a book two and it can't come soon enough.
If you follow my reviews, you'll find that the majority of what I review is Young Adult novels. But I really do enjoy reading other types of books, particularly when they are books from people who have already won me over with their personality and writing style. Linda Grimes is one of my Wolf Pack Sistahs. We're both represented by the lovely Michelle Wolfson, giving me the squee-worthy opportunity to read Linda's debut novel as an ARC. IN A FIX is kick-ass creative! I found the idea of Aura Adaption to be extremely interesting and never did Grimes lose control of the concept. The premise wasn't bogged down in back story and considering all the people moving going on, I was extremely impressed that I always knew who was who--unless I wasn't supposed to. :o) Ciel was an extremely likable character. Flawed and fun, with just the right amount of gumption. And the boys??? Gahhhh Grimes had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out which one I liked more. Seeing as they were all pretty steamy, it was a lot of fun trying to decide. I raced through this debut novel and I can't wait to read more by Linda Grimes. <3
In a Fix is humorous, clever, and a whole lot of sexy. Seriously! Linda Grimes reached into the corners of her imaginative mind to bring urban fantasy readers a mystery that they won't soon forget. Ciel Halligan is a 'human chameleon' and the name of her game is aura adaptation. Her job as a facilitator allows her to flex her ability to borrow energy from another human being, thus enabling her to change her appearance into that person, and solve their problems. Though there are only a handful of aura-adaptors, Grimes makes their world seem very large and well-situated. For a rare ability, Ciel knows a lot about the scope of her abilities and the urgency to keep it on the hush, hush. Readers will be able to jump into the story with ease, and quick understanding, and continue with rapt attention. Ciel's latest assignment as Mina Worthington takes a big swerve from easy-peasy to dangerously explosive. When Mina's fiancé-to-be goes missing and more dangerous factors arise, Ciel's assignment is taken over by her two overprotective friends: Billy Doyle, her best friend, and Mark Fielding, her childhood crush. Ciel's relationships with Billy and Mark provide more than flirty entertainment and down time between all the action and mystery building. The bantering and sexual tension that coils around her interactions with both men will take the edge off the plot and give readers reasons to laugh and hope Ciel's story is more than fiction. The challenges Ciel faces throughout the plot make for an exciting and adventurous read. Add in the ploy of modern day Vikings and the story takes on a new level of interesting. If you're thinking the aura-adapting storyline will be a complicated, dragged out affair, you're in for a treat. In a Fix is quick-paced with a not too complex plot. Grimes' light writing style will keep you flipping through the pages of the story and eagerly awaiting its sequel, Quick Fix!
LOVED IT! I want MORE. Original, funny and sexy.I hope this is a series.
Great characters in an interesting premise with a little sexual tension and humor makes a great read.
I don't remember who's blog I saw this on originally, but I loved the look of the book and the blurb sounded awesome. I had to have it. But for one reason or another, it kept sliding down the TBR pile until one day, I just forgot about it. When I was going through my extensive TBR list on Goodreads looking for the perfect books for my Month of TBRs, this one jumped out at me and I knew I needed to make sure that it make it on the list. I am so glad that I finally explored this book. We first meet Ciel while she is pretending to be Mina, a young, rich pampered young woman who hired Ciel to "get the ring" from her soon to be fiancé Trey while on vacation in the Bahamas. Except as it turns out, Trey too was replaced by another aura adaptor while he is doing a job for the CIA. Then of course, their is the other aura adaptor who was sent to keep an eye on Ciel during her assignment. Let's just say that I don't know which I enjoyed more, the action scenes or the comedy of who's playing who. And that was in just the first couple chapters. It is so hard to find new and unique ideas, but this was the first time I read anything like these human chameleons. It was truly a breath of fresh air in the Urban Fantasy genre. Plus I was literally torn between laughing out loud and cringing at some of the situations that Ciel managed to find herself in. I'm not normally a fan of younger heroines, but Ciel is spunky enough for me to enjoy her. Then there's the love triangle aspect - normally not a fan. But this one looks like it could prove interesting enough to overcome my normal reservations about them. I had such a good time with this book, I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I gave it 4 stars.
This book was funny and genuinely original (and how often can you really say someone had an entirely unique premise these days?). Her main character is feisty and perfectly imperfect and it's about time a freckled redhead got the guy!
Sampled this book months ago but didnt read it till now. Shouldnt be labeled YA but at the rate life is going, who knows. Clever and humorous with paranormal twist.
Ciel Halligan is an adaptor. She can adapt her aura to look like someone else. On a job for her business she gets into more danger than she would like, her client, Mina's soon to be fiance, Trey, seems to be into major trouble with some neo-Vikings. She, along with her "cousin" and her brother's overprotective best friend (also adaptors) set to work trying to figure out what the Vikings are plotting and why they would want Trey. I absolutely loved this book. There never seems to be a dull moment and it is hilarious. Seriously, I laughed out loud quite a few times. I love the banter and the characters and the main character's inner voice is pretty entertaining too. And I idea of the adaptors set up for some pretty interesting situations. I am really really looking forward to continuing this series when more are released.
This book and I never quite connected. The premise was intriguing. The main character, Ciel, and her buddies are "adapters," people who take on other people's auras and thereby imitate their shapes, voices, and appearances. Let's start with what I liked about the book. I liked Mark, a man Ciel has had a crush on for most of her life. I found her feelings for him and her hesitance to act on those feelings to be believable. I appreciated that her attraction to him was more than just physical and was based on a lifetime of encounters. It was easy to become invested in their relationship, and I rooted for them to get together. I also liked Ciel's reactions to taking on new auras. While using an aura, her body took on characteristics of the person she was copying. For example, as Mina, Ciel was prone to crying because Mina is a crier. As "Boner Benjamin," Ciel was horny for no good reason. That was a fun and interesting side effect of adapting. Sadly, I had trouble connecting with Ciel outside of her relationship with Mark. I suspect this was partially because she wasn't herself enough; she was too busy playing other people. Her internal monologue remained intact when she took on other auras, but without actions connected to that dialog--actions that were true to Ciel as opposed to the person she was playing at the time--I never bonded with Ciel. I also had trouble with the fact that, although the issues presented in this book were serious, Ciel didn't take them seriously enough. Multiple times, she was held captive and her life was at risk. Her associates were also held captive from time to time, as well. These should have been intense situations. Ciel should have taken these situations seriously. But it didn't work out that way. The book was just too light-hearted for its content. Ciel kept her good humor too well, and she rushed into things without thinking. I never felt the suspense or urgency that these situations should have created. Also, the theme of being held captive was a bit overused, in my opinion. It was like events kept repeating themselves. I wanted to see new scenarios from one chapter to the next, but I didn't get that. It was like an ongoing game of catch and release. For those who want a light-hearted read with a unique premise, I might recommend this book. But it simply wasn't for me. I stopped reading at 50%.