Flirting with Fire suffers from mild schizophrenia. It can't quite decide
if it wants to be a romance or a mystery. Its indecision and lack of
concentration on either the romance or mystery are apparent. Because of
that vacillation – that blurry feeling, I can't recommend it.
Handwriting expert Samantha Delaney is going to be a star witness at the
trial of mobster Dante DiCarlo...if his scare tactics don't convince her
otherwise. His blatant harassment finally gets to her, and she flees
temporarily to a small town.
Samantha rents an apartment from Daniel Caldwell, a man with terrible
secrets of his own. Thirteen years before, his home had burned down, with
the fire killing his father. The main suspect was his younger brother, who
has been warehoused in an institution until very recently. Daniel's got
the dual job of gradually reintroducing his brother into society and
finally getting an accurate diagnosis of his brother's condition. Is he a
pyromaniac, mildly retarded, what?
What made this story too much of a mystery and not enough of a romance for
me is that the secrets of both brothers aren't revealed until very late in
the story. While I was trying to determine who was bothering Daniel and
Samantha, their relationship became less the focal point and more of a
peripheral issue. Being disinterested in both the mystery and the
relationship, I was unaffected and was never drawn into the intensity,
fear, tension or caring.
Samantha was much too trusting for my tastes. Here she is, hiding from a
mobster who has contacts throughout a multi-state area and she tells two
people of her predicament. While she doesn't quite fall into the category
of "Too Stupid To Live", she skirts mighty close.
Daniel has been silent about his brother for thirteen years. Suddenly he's
revealing family secrets to this woman whom he barely knows. But his
motivations are more credible. If Samantha is untrustworthy, then
Daniel's life is not at stake. Not so with her announcements. I'm also
bothered by what I'd call 'acquaintance sex.' They don't know each other.
That's so obvious to me because we don't know them.
What starts out as Samantha's story quickly transforms into Daniel's story
and then into an indistinct miasma. We have parallel stories that never
mesh to my satisfaction. People who like mysteries or romances may not feel quite
satisfied with Flirting With Fire.