Review: Wildfire

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: WildfireWildfire (Fire, #3) by Anne Stuart
Series: Fire #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 290
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really enjoyed this story because there is serious drama and suspense as Sophie and Malcolm are trapped on the island with Sophie’s insane husband. The pacing and characters makes this a very enjoyable book.

THE STORY: Sophie Jordan was an operative with the Committee until she fell in love and married a target of her investigation.  He turned out to be a psychopath and an arms dealer.  Once her husband found out that she had lied to him, he tried to have her killed.  Instead, Sophie was left parallelized and at the mercy of her husband.  Malcolm Gunnison, undercover as an arms dealer, comes to the island in order to finish the job that Sophie botched.  He’s going to discover Sophie’s husband’s new biological weapon and then kill him.  Mal will also kill Sophie if necessary or if she gets in his way.

OPINION: I am a huge fan of Stuart’s Ice series.  Several of those books are on my all time favorites list.  Until this book, the Fire books have been okay but don’t begin to approach the amazing Ice books.  I’m happy to report, however, that WILDFIRE, while not as superlative as the best Ice books, is definitely worthy of being in the same universe.

I really liked Sophie in this story because as the book begins she has been in a deadly battle of wills with her evil husband. I prefer this damaged and dangerous heroine over the sweet innocent.  Sophie made mistakes in her past and has paid for it for years.  Now she is ready to win her freedom and kill her husband, if possible.  She also is immune from handsome dangerous men — or so she believes.  Of course, she find herself reluctantly attracted to the dangerous Mal. The combination of innocence, cynicism, ability to survive and desire to be free makes Sophie’s character one that I desired to follow her journey.

Mal is a nicer Stuart hero than most in these series.  While he begins the book entirely willing to kill Sophie if necessary — or even if she is somewhat inconvenient to him — he quickly begins to fall for her as well.  And although he does some bad things in this book, he is not as dark as some of Stuart’s heroes.  I liked his competence, his determination to do what is necessary and his total commitment to his mission — until, of course, Sophie begins to upset this world.

The story is tense and filled with danger and drama.  There is always the question of the motives of the various characters. I liked that there is almost constant danger with the characters.  From the first page, the characters are in precarious positions and that made the story go quickly.  By having all the action of the book take place on a private island with limited characters and danger all around, the constant sense of peril is preserved.  I liked the story and the development of the characters as they progress.

While not reaching the heights of the best Ice books, this book is the best of the Fire series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Fire series is about the American branch of the Committee, an anti-terrorism group that uses whatever means necessary, including murder, to stop terrorists.  The series this spins off from, the ICE series, has characters which are mentioned or make appearances in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WILDFIRE is the third book in the Fire series.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: The Spinster and the Rake

Review: The Spinster and the RakeThe Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart
on August 15, 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 162
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A sweet historical romance between a woman who has spent her life raising her brother’s children and a man who has plenty of notoriety behind him.  He brings animation into her life and she bring stability to his.

THE STORY:  Gillian Redfern has reached the age of thirty never having even been kissed.  Living with her brother and his family, Gillian takes care of the children and the household.  One night she meets Ronan Blakely, Marquis of Herrington who has been absent from England for twenty years.  Ronan is a true rake who left England in scandal.  Now he has returned as the Marquis.  When he meet Gillian, he thinks of making her break out of her comfortable world by turning his charm toward her.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this book tremendously.  It has a little dated feel to it (having been written in the early 1980s) but I loved Gillian as a character.  She is a woman who comes out of her shell and into her own as the book progresses.  She learns to reach out for what she wants in life rather than letting things happen to her.

Ronan is a true rake.  (Sometimes in modern books, rake is overused).  He has had notorious relationships (including an attempt to make off with a married woman).  I miss the opportunity to see his development as a character because much of his thinking remains murky (not uncommon in older romances).

I like how Ronan doesn’t know how to deal with Gillian.  Everything in the book was great until the ending.  There is a big twist that really wasn’t necessary and was brought up and resolved far too quickly.

I was amazed that so much story and character development was contained in so few pages.  I enjoyed it and this book reminds me that Anne Stuart has been a great writer for a long time.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a reissue (with a bit of new material) of a 1980s Candlelight Regency romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Driven by Fire

Driven by Fire
Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“He was going to kiss her. This man, her enemy, was going to kiss her, and she wanted him to. Desperately.”

FINAL DECISION: Action filled romantic suspense, this book kept me guessing as to the identity of the villains until the very end.

THE STORY: Jenny Parker is a pro bono lawyer and the daughter of a crime lord. She is trying to live her life apart from her family but she keeps being pulled back. When her father calls her to tell her that her younger brother has gotten mixed up in white slavery, Jenny knows that she has to protect her brother from the mess he has accidentally gotten involved in. She meets Matthew Ryder, a member of the Committee, a covert anticrime agency. Matthew knows that Jenny is lying about something and intends to discover all her secrets.

OPINION: The second book in the Fire series continues the stories of the men of the Committee in the United States. DRIVEN BY FIRE is about human trafficking. The plot is complex and goes in unexpected directions which pushes the story forward to its conclusion. The book is romantic suspense and the suspense is predominant here.

Jenny is an interesting character because she makes some morally questionable decisions. Often in Stuart books, the hero is steeped shades of gray while the heroine is bright and innocent. Not so here. Jenny’s family and her decisions make her more morally complex from the beginning. This allows a bridge between her and Matthew. Indeed, Matthew himself is a lighter hero than most of Stuart’s Committee heroes. He’s no Boy Scout, but he doesn’t seem poised on cold homicidal tendencies. While I am a big fan of Stuart’s antiheroes, Matthew is more a traditional hero and perhaps more palatable to those who find her more difficult heroes difficult to embrace.

For me, because Matthew is less dark and more normal, less time spent with him compared to Jenny and therefore he remains a mystery throughout the novel and I felt less connection with him and also less connection between him and Jenny. I enjoyed the book but it felt more suspense than romance to me.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved the Easter egg reference to ON THIN ICE.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DRIVEN BY FIRE is the second book in the Fire series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.