TALK ABOUT LOST IN TRANSLATION…
In the wake of a failed love affair, brainy beauty Jilly Lovitz takes off for Tokyo. She’s expecting to cry on her sister Summer’s shoulder, then spend a couple months blowing off steam in Japan. Instead, she’s snatched away on the back of a motorcycle, narrowly avoiding a grisly execution attempt meant for her sister and brother-in-law.
Her rescuer is Reno, the Committee’s most unpredictable agent. They’d met once before and the attraction was odd– tattooed Yakuza punk meets leggy California egghead–but electric. Now Reno and Jilly are pawns in a deadly tangle of assassination attempts, kidnappings and prisoner swaps that could put their steamy partnership on ice.
Fire and Ice is the fifth book in the “Ice” series and it’s the story of Jilly and Reno. They met for the first time about two years (I think) before the start of Ice and Fire in Ice Blue, the story of Jilly’s sister Summer and Reno’s cousin Takashi. It was just a short meeting, more a glimpse, but they were both equally fascinated by each other, as unlikely as that seemed based on their outward appearance and their differences in background. Then Reno also was present in Ice Storm, the story before this one, and Fire and Ice starts where Ice Storm ends: with someone after the agents of the Committee. And that’s why Takashi and Summer are not where Jilly expects them to be when she drops by for an unscheduled visit* and why it’s up to Reno to see that nothing happens to Jilly.
I thought Fire and Ice could be interesting with the pairing of the carefree, no rules apply Reno and the brainy, unsure of her appeal Jilly. And it worked for some time for me. But not enough to make me not realize that Fire and Ice is basically a damsel-in-distress story. That’s what keeps the story together because otherwise, the plot is all over the place. First Jilly and Reno run from someone who works against the Committee, then there’s trouble within the organization of Reno’s grandpa, and then there is last part that happens in the US and that feels like it’s an afterthought to make the story longer based on a rather flimsy connection to what happened before. Hmm.
Sidenote: Jilly is supposed to be incredible brainy but other than telling that it is so, there was no evidence of it. This is no dig at the damsel-in-distress slant of the story: Jilly’s clearly out of her depth in nearly all situations and besides the kind of smarts needed there is a different kind of smarts than she’s supposed to have I think, so I didn’t mind that most of the time. I just would have preferred more than the mere mentioning of degrees or field of studies to show that Jilly is indeed an egghead (especially because there are times she could have acted a bit smarter; see below).
As for the romance, amidst all that running, Jilly and Reno are afraid to admit they are attracted to each other. Jilly thinks she’s unattractive – tall for a woman and a kind of recluse thanks to her being so smart she always was years ahead in school compared to kids her age. Reno is a firm believer in “sex, not love” and fears Jilly is different and not just because of the dire warning from his cousin, the husband of Jilly’s sister, to stay the hell away from Jilly. And even if Reno respects nothing, he at least respects family. Which means his cold behavior feeds Jilly’s insecurities about herself even more. Much angst ensues.
But yes, amidst all that running, Jilly and Reno fall in love. At least the novel’s end says so. I have to admit, I don’t know why. As I said, I enjoyed their “romance” (and the angst) in the beginning but no matter how much they worried about the futility of their attraction, it didn’t show me when or why their fascination with their differences turned into love so uhm…at the end of the novel, Jilly and Reno’s romance still only was a strong fascination with each other’s differences in my eyes.
And yet oddly enough, I liked this novel better than Ice Storm despite Ice Storm having the more convincing romance and the tighter plot and Fire and Ice having a heroine who throws the gun at the villain instead of firing it.
On its plus side for me: the angst-ing in the beginning, the Japanese background and setting, and – I suspect – the fact that Reno is based on a character from Final Fantasy: Advent Children, a movie which in turn is based on Final Fantasy VII a video game for the PlayStation (see more here – link to “The Final Fantasy Wiki”). If I should name one thing that shaped my love for games it would have to be Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VIII to be precise (more on that in a later post perhaps). So that’s why I suspect that I’m a bit forgiving for Fire and Ice‘s shaky plot and romance: Fire and Ice gets a (major) point for “coolness” from me.
* Funny: In Ice Storm the reason why Reno shows up in London is that Jilly is coming to Japan to visit her sister for some time. The story in Ice Storm covers only a few days and Reno leaves at the end of it to look after Jilly in Japan, but in Fire and Ice Jilly’s visit to her sister is unplanned?
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I think I’m done with novels by Anne Stuart. The only problem is, I loved Black Ice, the first novel in this series, and now I’m afraid to read it again and find it lacking.