Saturday, October 28, 2006

Review: Playing With Fire

Sometimes it doesn't matter that a book's title is an overused euphemism. "Playing With Fire: Tales of an Extraordinary Girl" by Gena Showalter easily overcame that small handicap and was an enjoyable over-too-soon read.

I've begun dabbling in the Paranormal Romance genre, and Gena's book is the second that I've finished so far (meaning yes, I picked up another by a different P.R. author and couldn't get past sixty pages of stilted, head-hopping prose by a well-known author of this growing genre). "Play With Fire" tells the tale of Belle Jamison, a girl who just wants to keep a full-time job, take care of her dad, and maybe get a boyfriend. When a mysterious man dumps a secret formula in her latte, Belle wakes up a week later with powers of control over the four elements.

And as hokey as the premise could be, Gena pulled it off brilliantly. Belle's powers are controlled by her emotions (fire from anger, ice from cold, etc…), which provide some amusing scenes early on. The handsome hero is Rome Masters, an agent who tracks down paranormal disasters and neutralizes them. It's love at first sight (and first singeing, apparently) as Rome decides to go against orders and help Belle, rather than turn her in. But he does have a secret power of his own (which I picked up on almost right away, so it wasn't any sort of shock when Rome finally reveals it to Belle) and an ulterior motive (and it's not just sex, which was refreshing).

Speaking of sex, holy cow, does this book sizzle! But with the promise of eroticism, of teasing, taunting lovers who can't consummate their intense emotions without Belle burning down the house (or car, or cabin, or wherever they are at the time). And the fun is in how they deal with their searing attraction, while helping Belle learn to control her newfound powers.

I've already picked up another of Gena's books ("Awaken Me Darkly") and definitely recommend the author to anyone who likes stories of the paranormal. The romance is just a perk.

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