Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Everyone who reads Lisa Marie Rice knows her books follow a certain formula. Big, he-man, alpha warrior sees a dainty, mostly likely fragile, female and falls head over heels almost instantly. There is a Big Bad after the heroine and the hero goes nuts, desperately trying to protect her and take down the threat. The hero is also usually experiencing some kind of psychological and/or physical wound, which is healed in some capacity by the heroine, despite her lack of medical or therapeutic training. The emotional connection happens at hyper-speed and all of 'em are wealthy. Despite Rice's attempts at injecting grittiness by focusing on real world issues, these books have only a passing relationship with reality.
I love 'em. These books, for me, are pure fantasy and while I wouldn't want to be in the heroines' shoes for a moment, the idea of not having to be afraid all the time, of having someone capable of protecting me from all threats, is positively intoxicating. As a result, after I read Hot Secrets, I hunted up the majority of Rice's backlist. After finishing Midnight Man, I noted that I could tell it was an early book, but the potential was clearly there.
In my opinion, Nightfire is a major step forward. You need to read Hotter than Wildfire first, but Rice sidesteps most of her usual pitfalls in Nightfire. While Mike is instantly attracted to Chloe and there's some immediate fooling around, Rice does a (admittedly awkward) time jump of six months. The reader learns later that Mike and Chloe became friends during that time, getting to know each other, free from emotional stress or entanglements. In addition, Mike guides Chloe through a weightlifting and exercise program. She doesn't magically turn into She-Hulk and when she gets attacked later in the book, Chloe manages to defend herself long enough for Mike to get to her. In addition, Rice has really improved in making the Big Bad a credible threat. I mean, he never had a chance (of course) against Harry and Mike, but he wasn't stupid. He was smart, he made logical plans, and he was scary to think about. Finally, Mike comes off more like a man driven to his limits rather than a naturally controlling or domineering male. You get less of a 'stalker' sense off him, compared to some of her other heroes.
As far as content goes, there is an attempted rape scene, a not really consensual sex scene, violence towards women (including a torture scene), and murder in self defense. If any of this squicks you or if you have a problem with a very alpha warrior male, stay away. If you are a fan of Rice's work, I definitely recommend this book and hope Rice will continue to grow as an author.