Review: On Thin Ice

Review: On Thin IceOn Thin Ice (Ice, #6) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #6
on September 15, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Good Adventure Romance

THE STORY: Elizabeth Pennington is an American aid worker in a small war torn South American country. When she is kidnapped by revolutionaries, she ends up meeting Finn MacGowan who is also a captive. Finn is a Committee operative who has been kept captive for three years and is ready to escape. He believe the Committee, a covert multinational anti-terrorist organization, has abandoned him and he intends on escaping and getting revenge. When escaping, he reluctantly ends up with Beth as a companion and they must avoid those who want to kill them and find out who is trying to use Finn to draw out the former head of the Committee.

OPINION: This book is a constant adventure. There are betrayals and murders and dangerous thugs. Beth and Finn have a contentious relationship and are always on the edge of love and hate. The entire book is intense including the romance. I especially like how this book wraps up loose ends from the prior Ice novels. I am a big fan of Stuart’s type of hero who is dangerous and sometimes especially dangerous to the heroine. Here, Finn is not as close to killing Beth as other of Stuart’s anti-heroes are with their heroines. That gives this book more of a typical adventure suspense romance. The characters are sharply drawn and well defined. Although filled with adventure, the story is always centered around the characters which is what I like best about these books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Stuart wrote this book to give closure to what happened to MacGowan after the events in ICE STORM even though her original publisher did not want any other Ice series books.

FINAL DECISION: I like this book. It is different from others in the series although Finn is just as dangerous as the other men in the Ice series. The action adventure was thrilling and as a result the romance was intense. I also really enjoyed the update on my favorites from the Ice series as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ON THIN ICE is the sixth book in the Ice Series. It can be read as a standalone although there are characters and background that comes from the prior books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Fire and Ice

Review: Fire and IceFire and Ice (Ice, #5) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #5
Published by Harlequin MIRA Genres: Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
five-stars

My Absolute Favorite of the Series

“He’d taken one look at her and felt his world begin to crumble away.”

THE STORY: Reno is the grandson of a Japanese mobster. His cousin is an operative for the Committee, a covert operations group, which Reno has recently worked with as well. Jilly Lovitz is the sister of the wife of Reno’s cousin. When some deadly people come to kill Reno’s cousin, Reno has to rescue Jilly. Jilly and Reno had met before and neither has been able to forget the other. As Reno and Jilly run for their lives, international killers and dangers closer to home are revealed.

OPINION: I love this book. Full of adventure and excitement, it also has one of the sweetest romances between two prickly people who fight and argue and fall in love. It’s not sweet in the typical sense, but somehow Reno and Jilly are sweet and funny in a strange way. This book and its characters feels different. Punked out gothic outfits for disguises, the immersion in the Japanese pop culture. The book feels youthful and playful even while the storyline is deadly and dangerous. It is an interesting combination and definitely unique. It’s not a typical book or hero but it is fun, exciting and romantic.

WORTH MENTIONING: Reno is definitely not my usual type of hero: tattooed, bright red dyed hair and unearthly contact lenses. But by the end of the book, I adored him. Younger and less hardened than the other heroes in the Ice series, Reno is more irreverent and in a twisted way, sweeter than the others. At the same time he is a seriously deadly man as well.

FINAL DECISION: FIRE AND ICE is on my favorite’s list because Reno is a hero that I never expected to love. The fact that his and Jilly’s story is so exciting and fun and unexpected makes this a book that I love to reread.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FIRE AND ICE is the fifth book in the Ice Series. This book can be read as a standalone but is closely connected with ICE BLUE and would probably be best read after that book.

STAR RATING: I give FIRE AND ICE 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Ice Storm

Review: Ice StormIce Storm (Ice, #4) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #4
Published by MIRA on November 1, 2007
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 347
Goodreads
five-stars

Great Adventure Romance With Intrigue and Unexpected Twists

“But she had killed him once. She wouldn’t hesitate to kill him again.”

THE STORY: Isobel Lambert is the head of the Committee, a group based in Britain which attempts to thwart terrorist groups. Isobel is known as a sleek, cold, dangerous professional. She is reaching the limit of her tolerance of this life, however, and the young, vulnerable girl she was keeps showing through. Seventeen years ago, that young girl killed the man she spent two weeks in France with. Unknown to her, he survived and became the terrorist Serafin who makes a deal with her bosses at the Comnmittee. She has to save him and thus discovers that he is man she loved and hated and thought she had killed.

OPINION: I am a big fan of Stuart’s anti-heroes who are always on the edge of being the villain. Here, Isobel and Killian are both anti-heroes of a sort. They are a danger to one another even as they rely upon one another to reach safety. Both are dark characters who have killed and live in a shadowy world. The moral line of what is right and wrong is complicated and blurry here. I especially liked the interweaving of the past and present stories such that secrets are revealed in the past which illuminate the present. Isobel and Killian are an interesting combination. The constant danger and lack of truth between them makes their story fascinating and complex. I also especially like the softening of Isobel without making her weak. She remains a professional and yet readers are allowed to see her deep caring for her comrades and eventually also for Killian. As a fan of the Ice series, I also really liked seeing past characters (I won’t spoil who) and this time we get an update on their lives which was satisfying.

WORTH MENTIONING: Reno!

FINAL DECISION: The story of two people who both lead deadly lives, I loved how the book is romantic and yet not at all sentimental. I loved the interactions between Isobel and Killian.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ICE STORM is the fourth book in the Ice series. It can be read as a standalone although I think because it deals with and includes characters from the entire series, it will be better appreciated when read after the other books of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Ice Blue

Review: Ice BlueIce Blue by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #3
Published by Harlequin MIRA Genres: Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
five-stars

Thrilling, Dangerous Romantic Suspense

“He really didn’t know what he’d do Kiss her. Shoot her. She was making him crazy, and he couldn’t afford to let that happen.”

THE STORY: Summer Hawthorne, a museum curator, is kidnapped over a Japanese urn given to her by her beloved nanny. She ends up rescued by Takashi O’Brien, a man who might be more dangerous than those who kidnapped her. Taka is a man who has been given the order to kill Summer in order to keep the secrets that she holds: the location of temple ruins in Japan to be used by a cult to bring about mass destruction. Taka and Summer both have darkness within them and somehow they recognize one another even as the story tips between Summer’s certain death and Taka’s desire to rescue her.

OPINION: I absolutely love this book. Summer and Taka are one of my favorite couples in this series. There is a dearth of Asian heroes and I especially liked the interracial aspects of this story. The two of them have a dangerous edge throughout the story. Taka almost kills Summer multiple times and even though he knows he must, he continually finds reasons to stop. Summer is overwhelmed by the events happening to her and yet she demonstrates and incredible amount of strength. At times, there is so much tenderness between them even as they both fight against it. The action and adventure in this story is non-stop and even apart from the emotional story between these characters, it is a fun ride. Stuart has a different type of hero. Taka is deadly, not only to others but also the heroine. What I like best about this book is that there is also tenderness from Taka despite himself. This book also has some hot airplane sex and who can resist that?

WORTH MENTIONING: Adore, adore Taka’s cousin Reno who has his own book in FIRE AND ICE. Readers of this book might guess who the heroine is.

FINAL DECISION: This is my second favorite book of the series. Filled with action and the type of dark anti-hero that Stuart is known for, Taka believes himself immune from love, but he can’t resist Summer.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ICE BLUE is the third book in the Ice Series. It can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters that might remain mysterious if the reader is not familiar with the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Cold as Ice

Review: Cold as IceCold As Ice (Ice, #2) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #2
Published by Harlequin MIRA on September 17, 2012
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 371
Goodreads
five-stars

Dark Romantic Thriller

“He’d been a gray ghost before, now he was a fallen angel. The man was a chameleon, capable of turning into anything he wanted, and he assured her those persona were lethal. And she believed him.”

THE STORY: Genevieve Spenser is a high powered attorney who believes she has given up her idealistic views. When she comes to get signatures on a document for an important client of the firm, she ends up in the middle of a kidnapping perpetrated by the assistant of her client. Peter Jensen at first appears bland and non-threatening, but Genevieve learns that Peter is extremely dangerous and deadly. Peter knows that the innocent Ms. Spenser is likely to be a casualty in the Committee’s attempt to prevent more damaging events. From the beginning, however, Peter is unwilling to sacrifice Genevieve even though he knows he will likely have no choice.

OPINION: I just love Stuart’s anti-heroes who are especially good in the Ice Series. This book is filled with action and adventure and reluctant romance. This is definitely not your sweet loving book. This book is raw and harsh and sometimes it is difficult to see how these characters can have a happy ending. Peter is a highly trained killer and he knows that there is no clear line between the good guys and the bad guys. Peter almost immediately doesn’t want to have Genevieve be a victim. He is known as the Iceman and she begins to melt him despite himself. Genevieve believes herself jaded and cold but doesn’t realize that she is an infant compared to the dangerous people she encounters here. A reader will not get an intense emotional connection between these characters. At times their relationship seems more hate than love, but somehow it works. Despite both their wishes, these characters fall in love and form a strong bond.

WORTH MENTIONING: Stuart has a particular style with her heroes who are killers and are always on the edge of being dangerous to the heroine.

FINAL DECISION: Love, love Stuart’s ruthless anti-heroes. This is a tremendous romantic thriller with action and adventure galore.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COLD AS ICE is the second book in the Ice series about the covert agency known as the Committee. While there is some overlap of characters, COLD AS ICE can be read independent of the first book in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Black Ice

Review: Black IceBlack Ice (Ice, #1) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #1
Published by MIRA on April 26, 2005
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 377
Goodreads
five-stars

Fabulous: Action Packed Dark and Romantic Thriller

“What she needed was a little more sex and violence in her own life.”

“Be careful what you wish for…”

THE STORY: Chloe Underwood is an American in Paris. She is a rebel in her family of doctors. Chloe cooks and learns languages. She is working as a book translator when her roommate asks her to cover for her as a translator for a business meeting. Chloe ends up in a house full of international business people. There she meets Bastian Toussaint who she is immediately attracted to. Bastian, however, is a married womanizer and not matter what her attraction, Chloe is determined to avoid him. Bastian, however, has no intention of avoiding Chloe. Bastian is an agent with The Committee, an anti-terrorist organization. In Bastian’s world, there is little difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. He wonders who Chloe is working for and intends to find out her secrets. Then he will decide whether or not he will have to kill her.

OPINION: BLACK ICE is a romantic thriller. There is serious danger for the main characters throughout the novel. Bastian is a dangerous man. He has a dark past and present and has no use for Chloe. The truth is, however, that he is unable to resist her even though she is not trying to capture him. Their romance is raw and dark and yet there is something incredibly attractive and sweet about how the light of Chloe seeps into Bastian and changes him. I love this book. It is one of those books that I read so quickly because it is action packed. The balance between the action and the romance is well done. The book is also hot as Chloe and Bastian burn up the pages together.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am a great fan of the type of deadly dark heroes that Stuart writes. Admittedly, such a hero who walks the edge of loving and killing the heroine is not for everyone.

FINAL DECISION: I adore this book. Bastian is the type of dark tortured hero that a woman might not want in real life, but who is fantastic to read about.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLACK ICE is the first book in the Ice series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Heartless

Review: HeartlessHeartless (The House of Rohan) (Volume 5) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #5
Published by Impeccably Demure Press on May 14, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 316
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved the couple was completely lukewarm about the plot of the book which seemed to have some pointless complications. Struggled through the first half and enjoyed the second.

THE STORY: Emma Cadbury is having a second life as a surgeon after years of being the youngest madam in London and a prostitute before that. What she doesn’t need is the complication of Brandon Rohan. Emma met Brandon when he was recovering from serious war injuries and she urged him to live. Several years have passed and Brandon’s memories of those times have been clouded by his prior addiction to opium. When someone tries to murder Emma, Brandon is determined to protect Emma even if she wants to stay away from the man she knows is not for her.

OPINION: This book was okay but a disappointment to my expectations. I read the prior book years ago and I had anticipated Emma and Brandon’s book so much. While I still loved Emma and Brandon together, I was greatly disappointed by the story in this book.

The entire first half of the book was a slog to get through. There was not enough of Emma and Brandon’s relationship and a lot of stuff that was intended to complicate their relationship and ended up being annoying and abandoned by the end. There is the “other woman” story that went absolutely nowhere but was the primary reason that Emma and Brandon couldn’t get together quickly.

The murder attempts didn’t work as well in the beginning as the setup.

The second half of the book was much better. When the focus turns to just Emma and Brandon, the pace picked up, the intensity of the character’s relationship increased and I enjoyed reading the second half very much.

So this is a book that ultimately ended up okay for me, but I didn’t enjoy the first half of the journey which seemed mostly pointless.

WORTH MENTIONING: I liked the epilogue, but can’t help but wish that we actually got to see the events.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEARTLESS is the fifth book in the House of Rohan series.  While each book in this series is about a different couple, there are overlapping characters. Indeed, the story of this book began in the prior book in the series, SHAMELESS, and I think this book is better read after that book (even though the events are summarized here).

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Shameless

Review: ShamelessShameless (The House of Rohan, #4) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #4
Published by Mira Books on June 21, 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 411
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved the romance between Benedick and Melisande which is more traditional than the other books in this series (Benedick is not as rakish or as close to irredeemable as the other heroes in the series). The two are so perfect for one another from the start but are determined to resist the possibility.

THE STORY: Viscount Benedick Rohan has been exceedingly unlucky with women. He’s buried two wives and had a fiancee commit suicide. He needs an heir and this time he intends to find a woman that he can marry and then ignore while he finds his pleasure elsewhere. His attempts to find that pleasure are interrupted by Lady Melisande Carstairs who is a social reformer who has taken on protecting prostitutes as her cause. She’s called “Charity Carstairs” and she and Benedick can’t do anything but fight and bicker, but when Melisande needs Benedick’s help in foiling the Heavenly Host, the two end up striking all kinds of sparks off of one another.

OPINION: The most traditional of the series, Benedick is a man who doesn’t want to be hurt again so he’s determined to keep away from the woman who threatens his peace. I found Benedick’s desire to protect himself the most poignant part of this book. He comes from a place of hurt and that makes him strike out to protect himself. He hurts Melisande, but hurts himself during the process. He’s not the nicest or kindest hero, but compared to his sister’s husband (Lucien from BREATHLESS) he’s pretty much a choirboy.

Melisande is a woman who is incredibly strong and determined. After a marriage to an old and ill man, she has tossed convention aside in her desire to help prostitutes. It has scandalized the aristocracy and left her reputation in tatters, but she does not allow the opinions of others to keep her from doing what she believes is right. Eschewing marriage and family, Melisande insists she is content with her life.

Both Benedick and Melisande, however, hide an inner desire for love and family. And they are immediately attracted to one another. They hide and protect themselves with arguments and anger towards one another.

I loved their romance and Benedick in particular because he so desperately wants to love Melisande and is so afraid of doing so.

I also really enjoyed getting to see Miranda and Lucien again. Although we get to see their happy ending in BREATHLESS, I liked seeing how their relationship has grown and changed after several years.

Benedick is not the typical Stuart anti-hero. He’s much more traditional even if he is a jerk to the heroine for a lot of the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book also begins the story of Brandon and Emma. It took 7 years but Stuart finally has written their story which was painfully incomplete in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHAMELESS is the fourth book in the House of Rohan series. There are overlapping characters in this series, but the romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Breathless

Review: BreathlessBreathless (The House of Rohan, #3) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #3
Published by MIRA on October 1, 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 379
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book is definitely not for everyone. The hero is one of Stuart’s dark antiheroes who teeters on the edge of being completely unredeemable — and some readers might find his action unforgivable. But for someone who likes Stuart’s antiheroes, Lucien is one of my favorites.

THE STORY:  Lucien de Malheur, Earl of Rochdale aka The Scorpion is out for revenge against the Rohans. Blaming them for the death of his only sister, Lucien arranges for the ruin of the Rohan daughter Lady Miranda Rohan. When things don’t go as planned, Lucien sets out to arrange a friendship with Miranda which he intends to lead to marriage as part of his revenge.

OPINION: The romance between Lucien and Miranda is dark and combative and there is something that I just love about them together. I have truly loved many of Stuart’s dark antiheroes, and Lucien is certainly one of those.

Lucien is almost unredeemable. He orchestrates the heroine’s loss of virginity at the hands of a truly awful man. He threatens her throughout the book. But he is totally not in control of the relationship. In the battle of wills, I believe that Miranda is the ultimate victor because she pulls Lucien from his plans and revenge and evil deeds. Miranda is the center and the strength of what is going on between them. She finds her strength and her passion with Lucien.

This book is definitely not for everyone. Readers who are sensitive about rape and threats of coercion probably should skip this book. While the hero does not rape the heroine, he certainly orchestrated what many will see as rape — even if the heroine will not name it as rape.

There is something compelling about these two. Most of the story occurs with them playing games with one another. The romance happens in what is not said between these two. In the moments that bring them together even if their words are a battle.

This ended up being one of my favorite Stuart books even as I dislike Lucien intensely as the book begins every time I read it.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a secondary romance that is almost a novella in itself and is wonderful itself.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BREATHLESS is the third book in the House of Rohan series.  The romance is completely a standalone although the heroine here is the daughter of the hero from the second book and the granddaughter of the hero from the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Reckless

Review: RecklessReckless (The House of Rohan, #2) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #2
Published by Mira Books on September 1, 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 408
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really loved this book because Adrian is never as bad as he thinks (and certainly not as dark and dangerous as his father). Charlotte and he make a great match with some suspense and drama tossed in.

THE STORY: Miss Charlotte Spenser is firmly on the shelf so she convinces her cousin to allow her to attend a meeting of the Heavenly Host to see vice and sin first hand. She also happens to want to see Viscount Adrian Rohan who Charlotte has been fascinated with for years. Adrian has been engaged in sinful activities for years and while he has kept his distance from the innocent Miss Spenser, he can’t resist her when he appears at his revelries.

OPINION: This book wanders closer to the typical rake hero. Adrian is not as dark as many of Stuart’s heroes and the romance while focusing a great deal on the sexual experiences between the hero and heroine does follow a more typical storyline.

Charlotte immediately breaks down Adrian’s walls. He struggles for a while, but he doesn’t have a strong reason to avoid her. In fact, the real drama in this story ends up being mostly external.

I really liked the heat between these two. Adrian is a little bit of a jerk, but Charlotte is strong and willing to put him in his place. I loved watching her gain strength and determination as the story progresses.

The funny thing is that these two end up being pretty sweet as a couple.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a secondary romance in this book that I enjoyed but wish we had gotten a whole book about because they are that interesting.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RECKLESS is the second book in the House of Rohan series. This book is about the son of the couple from book 1 so this book can be read as a standalone but also has some overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars