Playing with Fire by Gena Showalter
Series: Tales of an Extraordinary Girl #1
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: June 15th 2012
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Twenty-four-year-old barista Belle Jamison dreams of a better job and a decent love life. Until a crazy scientist spikes her mocha latte! Suddenly Belle can wield the four elements—earth, wind, fire and water—with only a thought. Coffee too hot? No problem. Hair in need of a blow-dry? Done.
Gorgeous government agent Rome Masters has been sent to neutralize Belle. But he's not the only one after her. Together they must outrun the rogue agents on their trail and find a way to control her powers. There's just one problem: the sparks Belle and Rome generate are even hotter than the ones flying from her eyes—and with her future on the line, now is the worst possible time to fall in love….
I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for close to two years (I bought it about a week after it came out) but I hadn’t bothered to read it because I wasn’t in the mood for some dark, paranormal tale. Now I’m kicking myself, because not only was it not dark, it was fun, fresh and thoroughly enjoyable.
Belle Jamison is your average, ordinary, everyday girl. She works at a coffee house (a job she hates) to support her dad who needs to live in an assisted living facility because he has heart disease. She has a bad temper and can’t seem to control her emotions, which is why it’s a complete disaster when a mad scientist rushes into the shop and pours a formula into her Mocha Latte that gives her the ability to control the elements w/ her emotion. Fire for anger, Water for sadness, Ice for fear, Wind for a combination of them all. For a girl who’s overly emotional and can’t seem to control herself at all, this is not a good thing..
After drinking the formula (without her knowledge) she falls desperately ill, and when she wakes up in a strange place, it’s with a fallen angel standing guard. Rome Masters has been sent to “neutralize” her before she destroys the world with her powers. But dying seems to be the least of her worries. There’s a super bad guy after her who wants nothing more than to experiment on her, a horny teenager who can sense her emotions, Rome’s gorgeous ex-wife (a psychic bitch no less) and her huge attraction to Rome – the man who’s supposed to take her out. Not to mention the way she’s constantly catching things on fire or freezing them in place. What’s a girl to do when she’s falling for a guy who wants to kill her and can’t control the emotions that could potentially set the world on fire?
I truly enjoyed this story. It was laced with humor, action and enough sexual tension to singe the pages. Belle was an awesome character, full of sarcasm, inner strength and just enough vulnerability to make her likable. I love that she didn’t just accept her newfound powers or immediately embrace them. She really just wanted to go back to her ordinary life.
Rome was an excellent character as well. Too often when an author chooses to write in first her other characters suffer for it, but I didn’t feel that was the case here. It was easy to see Rome battle his attraction for Belle, and his struggle to decide if he should turn her in or not. And seeing the way he was with his daughter gave us an entirely new perspective.
The secondary characters were also well drawn and richly enhanced the overall story arc. I was really sorry to see this story come to an end. If I’m reading her website correctly, it looks like Showalter has plans to release a second book in this series. Unfortunately, not until September 2009. I plan on hunting it down upon it’s release, though. That’s for sure.
4.5 out of 5