Tor / August 20, 2013 / $15.99 print, $8.89 digital
Ciel Halligan, an aura adaptor with a chameleon-like ability to step into the lives of her clients and fix their problems for them—as them—is working a job at the National Zoo with her boyfriend, Billy, and his ten-year-old sister, Molly. It's supposed to be a quick fix, giving her time to decide if it's wise to pursue the romantic relationship her charming scoundrel of a best friend wants, or if she should give Mark, the CIA spook she's crushed on since hormones first rattled her pubescent brain, a chance to step up to the plate.
Molly has already begun to show signs of being an adaptor herself. She's young for it, but she's always been precocious, so it's not impossible. What is impossible is her taking on the form of the baby orangutan she touches—adaptors can only project human auras. Until now, apparently. Worse, Molly is stuck in ape form. She can't change herself back.
Escaping from the zoo with their new baby orang, Ciel and Billy head for New York City and the only person they know can help: Ciel's brother James, a non-adaptor scientist who's determined to crack the aura adaptor genetic code. But when Billy winds up in jail, accused of attempted murder, Ciel begins to suspect Molly's unusual adapting ability is more than just a fluke. Who's been experimenting on Molly, and what do they hope to gain? And will Ciel survive to find out?
Looking for something fast-paced, quirky, and unpredictable? Love the potential of a friend-to-lover scenario? Intrigued when a heroine has to pick between two hunky men? If so, then there is plenty that you will enjoy in Quick Fix, the second book in Linda Grimes's In A Fix series featuring Ciel Halligan.
Ciel Halligan, as an aura adaptor, has the ability to pinch just a bit off others’ auras, and then use that small piece to project that individual’s appearance and personality. A wonderful ability, especially if you are working in the spy business—except Ciel’s protective older brother Thomas and his friend Mark put a quick death to that career goal. Resolved not to be treated as the weak little woman, Ciel defiantly sets up her own business as an “Intrepid Fixer of Other People’s Problems.” She will be you, and solve your pesky complications.
Which is why she is at the National Zoo. She's not above using blackmail, so on this case she has enlisted her cousin in name only, Billy, to help. Billy, the son of her mother’s best friend and a long time thorn in Ciel’s side, is along to document what happens when the perpetrator—who's been accused of fondling Thelma Parker—encounters Ciel disguised as Thelma.
Ciel’s relationship with Billy is evolving. With their mothers being so close, they grew up together, and spent years tormenting and pestering each other. As Billy got older, it was impossible to ignore his good looks and his roguish charm, plus Billy has this innate ability to make her laugh. Still, Ciel has some immunity to Billy’s potent charm, since she been carrying an unrequited crush on her brother’s best friend, Mark. But Billy has muddied the waters with his declaration that he has always found her alluring, and he is ready to be a one-woman man. Ciel is torn between her schoolgirl dreams of Mark, and her new budding feelings for Billy. And the two men in her life are not making it easy:
“He knew I was watching.” Billy’s voice preceded him down the stairs.
Startled, I turned and looked up at him, brain still awhirl.
“When he kissed you. He heard me close the door to Molly’s room.” His voice remained neutral, but his eyes were narrower than usual, his black lashes shadowing their usual sparkle.
“That’s silly. Besides, it was just a good-night peck. Hardly qualifies as a kiss at all.” I shrugged and looked away.
“No, he was warning me off in his own inimitable style.”
“Are you saying he kissed me just to make a point to you? Gee, thanks.”
He reached for me again, but I evaded his arms. If I’d learned anything about myself recently, it was that I didn’t think clearly when Billy was touching me.
I'm not sure that I could think clearly around Billy either. Give me teasing, playfulness, and clever repartee any day over agonizing angst. But Ciel is genuinely worried about the potential loss of Billy’s friendship if they do change their status quo. And really, could Billy turn out to be one of those guys just interested in the chase? Because he does have a well-earned reputation with the ladies. Who better to ask than a brother?
“Do you think he might be my type?” I asked quietly.
Pause. Was that concern that flashed in his eyes? Then it was gone, and it was his turn to sound offhanded. “You guys got something going on?”
“No, I dunno. Maybe. I’m confused.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought you were kind of hung up on Mark.”
Geez. I coughed. “I’m a grown-up. I should be getting past childish crushes.”
He studied me for a moment, then nodded, though he didn’t seem convinced.
“Billy . . . dates a lot of women,” he said hesitantly, like maybe I wasn’t aware.
I blew out a breath. “Yeah. He claims he’s done with that. Is that even possible?”
He messed with some lab equipment, making minor adjustments to knobs and pushing a few buttons on Lord knew what kind of machines, all while holding his face in neutral. The classic James thinking look. I waited.
After a few minutes he reached some sort of conclusion and stopped fiddling with the test tubes and beakers. Looked at me.
“Ciel, if Billy is expressing an interest in you that way, I think it must be genuine. As impulsive as he is—or was—with the opposite sex, I don’t think he’d be reckless with your feelings. He cares too much about you to risk hurting you that way.”
With the romance sizzling, sometimes on the back burner, and sometimes the front burner, Ciel has plenty to occupy her time. Because besides all this, Ciel, Billy, Mark, and Ciel’s brothers—James, Thomas, and Brian—are frantically working to discover the cure to Billy's sister Molly’s dilemma. Young adaptors don’t come into their talent this early, and they never ever are able to take on the manifestation of an animal.
And someone has gotten wind of these unusual talents and danger is lurking around every corner, or maybe it is behind every face? Because it is not easy to distinguish between who is real, and who is using a bit of a stolen aura. It is up to our intrepid heroine to figure out the good guys from the bad, and keep Molly safe, plus pull the wool over their mothers’ eyes.
If you haven’t checked out this series, then you need to do so. Not only will Ciel, Billy, and Mark capture your imagination, but the world building is fun, inventive and lighthearted.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Quick Fix by Linda Grimes before its release (August 20, 2013):
Leigh Davis, Blogger