Fane is thrilled when he stumbles upon an expensive Jo-E bot that has been dumped in the trash. Fane can’t understand why someone would have thrown the bot away, considering it is a new model, quite costly, and the damage seems minor. He decides to take it home and see if he can make the repairs, as the chances of Fane ever affording a bot on his own are slim.
After a little work, Fane starts up Jo-E and the bot seems good as new. He is a domestic bot designed to cook and clean and otherwise help take care of Fane. The bot is also gorgeous, incredibly humanlike, and appears exactly like Fane’s type of man. But Fane also knows he should not be getting involved with a bot.
Things get even more complicated when Jo-E’s original owner shows up wanting him back. Not only has Fane become attached to Jo-E, but it is clear the bot is scared of his old owner and doesn’t want to return. But the man may not take no for an answer, leaving Fane to figure out how to save Jo-E and possibly have a future together.
Fire Up My Heart is a fun, cute story with some nice world building. Idonea does a nice job with the setup here, giving us a good sense of this futuristic world without bogging down the short novella in too much exposition. Things flowed well and all my questions were answered. I liked the conflict here and how the clever way things resolve. The bad guys are a little over the top in the mustache-twirling, evil bad guy sense, so I would have liked a touch more realism here. But overall the set up and the world building side of things worked nicely.
Where I ran into trouble was in the relationship end of things. I just didn’t feel the romantic connection between these two, and at times it made me somewhat uncomfortable. On one hand the book makes it clear that Jo-E is incredibly human in his appearance, emotions, and behavior. In fact, this is a key facet of the story, and Jo-E makes it known he has feelings for Fane. But at the same time, Fane is very uncomfortable with his attraction to Jo-E and feels like it is wrong, that Jo-E is a bot and there shouldn’t be any kind of sexual or romantic relationship between them. So even though we as readers know how Jo-E feels, Fane’s discomfort transferred over to me. There is also a power dynamic here that added to my concern, given that Jo-E’s sole programming focus is taking care of Fane, and later he is dedicated to pleasing Fane so that Fane won’t send him back. So these two are on pretty uneven footing right from the start.
Even moving past the bot/human issue, we don’t get much time to see this relationship develop. We see a few days of them together, mostly with Fane at work and Jo-E cooking and cleaning around the house. I didn’t feel like I got enough of a sense of their connection, their relationship development, or their feelings for one another, other than being told about them. So while I liked the set up and larger narrative, these guys just didn’t really click for me in the romantic end of things.
That said, I still found this an enjoyable story. It is a quick, easy read with a clever set up and some nice world building. I would have liked more from the relationship end, but if you are looking for a light, futuristic story this one might be worth giving a try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.