Monday, September 12, 2005

Black Ice by Anne Stuart

I love dark tortured heroes and Anne Stuart always writes the best ones. Black Ice is no exception.

Bastien Toussaint is an operative for the Committee, a covert anti-terrorist organization. He kills people and doesn't seem too concerned whether they're the good guys or the bad guys. The bad guys he has killed are members of an international arms cartels. And he has killed the innocent when it's expedient for the Committee to hide their activities from witnesses. He has also killed fellow Committee agents when assigned to do so as necessary to protect their organization. Kind of sounds like the CIA run amok.

Chloe Underwood is an American living in Paris working as a translator for children's books wishing for a little passion and excitement in her life. Unfortunately, she gets her wish when she gets pressured into taking a translating assignment at a country chateau for a group of
international importers. Fairly quickly, she realizes this group is not what she first thought. They are a dangerous bunch of illegal arms dealers squabbling over who gets to be in charge after their leader is assassinated. Bastien has infiltrated the group and is there posing as a womanizing businessman and eventually learns that Chloe is out of her league. When Chloe discovers the group members' identities one of them wants to kill her and Bastien barely manages to drag her away to safety.

The rest of the book is very fast paced and I finished it in a day. The emotional bond that develops between them is very satisfying and there are a couple of very sensual love scenes that were believable. Even though I knew it must have a HEA I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the book wondering if Bastien was actually going to kill her or not since this idea seemed to always be present in his internal dialogue. It was absolutely gripping and I loved it. Be warned though it has a very abrupt ending. This was discussed on the Review MB at AAR and Ms. Stuart wrote this epilogue for those of us who need a bit more and I copied it here (spoiler):

Well, for the first few months they'd both sort of lay low, make love, and bond in a very tender way to go with the intensely violent, sexual bond they already formed. Her family would come back to see the guest house in ashes but no other sign of trouble -- Madame Lambert would have seen that everything else is cleaned up -- and Bastien is now in place. They met him before, knew he'd saved her life, knew she'd been only half alive since she left him, so they'd welcome him into their lives (though they'd be wary since he's clearly a dangerous man with a dark past -- but they'd know he loves her and that counts for a lot. Her brothers would be particularly protective). Bastien and Chloe might even go away for a time, to a remote Caribbean Island where they could be safe and quiet and just be with each other. She'd get pregnant in about a year, he'd become a carpenter (he'd need to do something physical and rewarding, and he has tons of money in a swiss bank account so a career is unimportant). He'd probably build them a house on the 320 or so acres her parents have -- far enough away for privacy, close enough for family. Chloe would probably do free-lance translating for a New York publisher while she raises the babies, and no one will ever know that Bastien survived. He'll have hellacious nightmares as he starts to come out of his cold killer persona, but she'll be there for him, because, in fact, she is stronger than he is, at least emotionally. And they WILL live HEA.

(end spoiler) Very satisfying, I think.

My Grade: A


CindyS said...

Being the Anne Stuart fan-girl that I am, I loved this book ;) I hope she has a ton of books that need to be published one day.

I enjoyed her epilogue but I'm not sure about having children so fast.


Kristie (J) said...

I love Anne Stuart too and have more of her books than any other author with the exception of Nora/JD and BI ranks up there as probably one of my favourite top 3

Tara Marie said...

This is one of my favorite books from this year. I LOVE dark heros, I always think of Anne Stuart's heros as anti-hero, but somehow they always work in her books.

Loved the epilogue and it's very close to what I imagined--LOL.

Megan Frampton said...

I love Anne Stuart, too, and I loved this book. I'm so nutty about her, in fact, that I bought a huge lot of her categories, so I now have more of her books than anyone else's.I'd squee, only my son will wonder what the heck his mom is doing.

ReneeW said...

Ladies, I think we have our own fan club going here. She is one of my top 5 favorite authors.

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