R.E. Butler's Reviews > Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan
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's review
Oct 03, 12

really liked it
Read from September 14 to October 03, 2012

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

I'm a big fan of Tamara Morgan's writing. I love her Games of Love series. I have always found her writing to be a perfect blend of light romance, humor, and action to keep me glued to the pages. As a romance reader, my interests vary greatly within the genre, bt trend more towards paranormal than contemporary, so when I found out she was writing a book about superheroes, I was thrilled because it was like the best of both worlds. A fav author of mine writing in a fav genre.

The book opens up with one of my favorite first-lines ever:
** I should have opted for the boob job. **
With a start like that, how could I not want to read it?

First the heroine. Fiona Nelson is a character that I believe many women will relate to. Labeled in high school with an unfortunate and slutty nickname thanks to her then-friend Ian, she spent a good portion of her teen years living up to it. She tried to fill the void in her heart with physical affection, but realized later in life, like many of us do, that it just doesn't work that way. Eight years before the story starts, Fiona is in a bad relationship with an older man, who offers to get her either a boob job or pay for her to take the experimental conversion serum to gain superpowers. When she takes the serum, she's labeled a Converted. When her power turns out to be dangerous she knows she will be labeled a Corrupted. Converted are required to register with the government (think X-Men and the mutant registration). Just what happens to the Corrupted when the government finds them isn't explored, but Fiona was frightened enough of being found out to imagine that it wouldn't be good. The government doesn't want the public to know that there are dangerous converts out there, but there are people that want to reveal that truth to the masses.

Fiona's power? Fire. Lots of it. And it flares with heavy emotions, especially lust. The serum that promised great things, turned her into a woman who is unable to touch or be touched. Her life is one of secrecy and loneliness as she hides her power, except for those times when it builds inside her and she must let it out, choosing isolated areas away from people where she can just let loose and then go back to her life. I found Fiona to be a sympathetic character, very deep and well-drawn. Her emotional state is tangible when she runs into Ian, the boy who broke her heart and gave her that awful nickname. Sometimes, time doesn't erase all things, because Fiona certainly remembers vividly what happened between them.

Ian Jones was nerdy and inexperienced in high school. As an adult, nature was very kind to him and now he's still nerdy, but incredible hot. And he still has a thing for Fiona. When fires are being set, tied to someone that the media has dubbed Fireball, Ian visits the crime scenes and collects evidence, hoping to prove that there are people out there that took the serum that became Corrupted. Ian is certain that Fireball is a Corrupted, responsible for one death and some serious fires including at a bank. When Fiona runs into his life again at a crime scene, he's certain that she is hiding the power to create fire and that she is not just a Converted but a Corrupted. But is the girl he remembers, the one he betrayed, Fireball or an innocent getting framed? Can he be objective or will he be blinded by his feelings?

Ian is a strong character, a scientist with an inquisitive mind. I really enjoyed his internal struggle as he tried to remain scientifically detached from Fiona while he tried to figure out whether she was Fireball or not. He proved to be the chivalrous, knight in shining armor more than once, which nowadays is a superpower all on its own.

A superhero needs a nemesis, and who better than the man who paid for Fiona's serum and then left her behind when he didn't like the power she received? Patrick Veller hides in plain sight under the name General Eagle, who stands up against the Corrupted, working in the spotlight under the guise of being a public watchdog. He rails against the "monsters" that Corrupted are, scaring the public with exaggerated stories. Fiona knows his secret, but he knows hers, too, and he's not above blackmail to get her to do what he wants.

Action-packed and unique, this novella-length story was hard for me to put down. I cheered for Fiona, swooned for Ian, and hated General Eagle. The ending was a surprise, and I really enjoyed the ride. I really hope that Tamara revisits this world again soon. If you like your light romances with good humor, some action, and a sprinkling of superheroes, this is one to read.

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