This is one of those books that instills a good feeling in the reader throughout the reading, and once the last word has been read. I was cheering forThis is one of those books that instills a good feeling in the reader throughout the reading, and once the last word has been read. I was cheering for Dane and Olivia to consummate their marriage, and I was laughing and rather surprised in a good way at the reasons for Dane's virginity. I liked that Olivia was the one pursuing in this book, instead of Dane. This book was fun and exciting to read. It has some rather nontraditional sensuality elements for a mainstream, non-erotic historical romance (in general), but I liked the way it was done. Very well written as typical for Bradley. She's really great at combining humor and pathos in her books. A sure keeper....more
I really enjoyed this book. It reminds me why I love this author. I believe she is criminally underrated among the historical romance authors. She wriI really enjoyed this book. It reminds me why I love this author. I believe she is criminally underrated among the historical romance authors. She writes very sexy historical romance that also has substance and wit. Her characters are appealingly quirky and flawed. This book is so in that vein.
Lady Alicia is Ruined, with a capable R. It wasn't her fault, but that doesn't make it right. My heart hurt for Alicia. I tend to like my heroines virginal, but I also like a heroine who has had a bit of life experience under her belt, and she is a survivor. In other words, I don't think possessing a "V" card is enough to make a successful heroine. A heroine should be three-dimensional and she should have substance and character. That was so Alicia. I loved her. I rooted for her to get her happy ending, and I really wanted it to be with Wyndham!
Now Wyndham is more of the Darcy type hero. Cold, composed and remote. His reasons for being so make a lot of sense. You see, Wyndham always knows when someone is lying to him. Except for Alicia. It drives him crazy that he can't read Alicia. Especially since he has began falling for her shortly after they met. I liked how Alicia brought out the wilder, emotional side in Wyndham. But how he fought it. At times, I felt his behavior towards her was very unkind, and I wanted him to realize what a gem she was. At the same time, I loved how Alicia demanded respect. She didn't lay down to be abused by him. Even with her diminished circumstances, Alicia stayed true to herself and was her own person. She won her hero fair and square.
Even though it's taken me years to finish this series, I felt like the ending was perfect. This book is a great combination of light humor and wit, sexy and emotional romance, and a nice dose of suspense and intrigue. It's an excellent conclusion to the Liar's Club series and its crossover The Royal Four. I enjoyed catching up with the other characters from The Royal Four, and they made me nostalgic from my days of reading The Liar's Club.
This book is several years old, but I think it's worth tracking down.
I started this book on a Saturday and finished it the same day. This book was incredible. It has the great elements of an authentic western setting, eI started this book on a Saturday and finished it the same day. This book was incredible. It has the great elements of an authentic western setting, engaging characters, sensual romance, humor, and danger. You will love Skylar as she is an incredible woman with a sense of honor but also the grit and determination to do what it takes to make a life for her younger brother. She was forced from a young age to suppress her feminine side and to work and to live as a cowboy, and nobody would question her abilities. Skylar ends up accidentally married to playful, but dangerous former bounty hunter, Tucker Morgan. He's gorgeous and tempting, but having a home for her brother is her first priority. The end goal is to get to Wyoming, get paid for her mustangs, and get an annulment. She just has to keep her hands off him, and his hands off her. Tucker wasn't looking at getting married ever, but he has one heck of a bride on his hands. She's willing to pull her weight and then some, and earns his respect. And she's beautiful. He finds it harder than he thought to keep from taking his wife to bed, and soon finds that he wants her forever. I really enjoyed this book. It was fun, it was intense, and I felt like I was there on the trail to Wyoming, with dust in my mouth, the cold wind blowing on face, hearing the mustangs neighing, and dodging bullets, along with the characters. If have been feeling at a loss as less and less western romances are being published, I highly recommend picking up this book. It will keep you entertained for hours indeed. Stacey Kayne is a new go to author for me when it comes to western romances. ...more
This is my favorite book of all time (well, tied with Jane Eyre). Great hero, heroine, story, humor, romance, angst. Perfect except I didn't want it tThis is my favorite book of all time (well, tied with Jane Eyre). Great hero, heroine, story, humor, romance, angst. Perfect except I didn't want it to end.
I fell in love with Dain from the moment of his birth. He was an ugly baby, loved only by his dearest mother, who was taken away from him. He was horribly treated by others growing up because of his half-Italian heritage and his large nose and ungainly features. Not knowing love, he felt he was unworthy of being loved. As an adult, he lived a life of selfish pleasure, spending his time with women who he could pay for his pleasure, thinking no woman would want him voluntarily. How could I not want to know and fall in love with a hero who is so tortured?
Enter Jessica, the best heroine ever written (other than Jane Eyre). She is ruthlessly intelligent, and knows just how to handle Dain. And she pretty much loves him the first time she sees him. Although others think he is ugly, he is perfect to her. There's a statement made by Jessica where she thinks or says she cannot resist him, and he is baffled that she would feel that way, used to being considered ugly as sin. I am like Jessica. To me, Dain is gorgeous.
The chemistry between Dain and Jessica is better than any other book I've read, and I've read a lot. I've read books that were much more sexually explicit. The love scenes are not at all descriptive in this book. But they are incredibly effective, because of the passion between Jessica and Dain, and the deep caring and love they feel for each other. She knows of his flaws, but cares about him anyway, although she doesn't let him get away with anything. She even shoots him when he compromises her in the eyes of the ton but doesn't offer marriage. How cool is that? Dain cannot resist her, even knowing that she is much too good for him, and will change his life irrevocably.
The scenes between Dain and Jessica are so delicious, it's like eating a banana split with a cheesecake chaser. And I have read few books that could manage poignancy and humor so well. There are scenes that make me cry every time I read them. Yet other scenes cause the biggest smile to spread over my face. One of my many favorite scenes is when Dain acknowledges his illegitimate son, knowing he loves him, even though he is just as ugly as Dain was as a child, and is filthy and covered in vomit. My heart wept, and tears flowed from my eyes.
At the end of the day, it's really hard to describe why I love this book so much. But I do. I have absolutely no reservations in saying, this is my favorite book of all time (or at least tied with Jane Eyre for favorite, which is nothing to sneeze at). If I ever meet Loretta Chase, I will thank her from the bottom of my heart for writing this book that has so enriched my life....more
This is in my top ten books of all time. I love Wolf and Mary. They are one of my romance supercouples. This is a book to read when you are feeling jaThis is in my top ten books of all time. I love Wolf and Mary. They are one of my romance supercouples. This is a book to read when you are feeling jaded about romance novels. When I read it the first time, I immediately turned around and reread it. I still have my first copy but I bought another copy since the first one is a little worn....more
This book is pretty darn awesome. Zsadist is definitely one to seduce a reader if you love tortured, sexy heroes. The only disadvantage is too much LeThis book is pretty darn awesome. Zsadist is definitely one to seduce a reader if you love tortured, sexy heroes. The only disadvantage is too much Lesser narrative. Otherwise I love it! It is full of passages that wrench at your heart as you read Zsadist's sad but ultimately triumphant story. You really root for Zsadist to accept the unconditional love that Bella has for him, as you see him give all of himself to her because he cannot help but love her, even believing he is far from good enough for her. And the relationship is not one-sided as Zsadist helps Bella to heal from her captivity with the Lesser. He is the only one that can help her through this ordeal. But long before she was kidnapped, she was drawn to Zsadist. You see the seeds of their connection start in Lover Eternal, and to be honest, that's what made me keep reading Lover Eternal. I was so fascinated by the interaction between essentially The Beauty and the Beast played out in this sophistocated, urban vampire universe. I knew that their relationship would be explosive and captivating, and I was right. The scenes of Bella and Zsadist during her needing are enthralling and sexual, but also tender and poignant. I don't think any man could love a woman more than Zsadist loves Bella. The ending will make the sternest, most cold-hearted person tear up as Zsadist very clearly shows just how much Bella means to him. And the gift that Bella gives Zsadist is just the icing on the cake. This is a wonderful love story....more
My faith in Loretta Chase was firmly restored with this book. It was a grand adventure with an unforgettable hero and a strong, independent, intelligeMy faith in Loretta Chase was firmly restored with this book. It was a grand adventure with an unforgettable hero and a strong, independent, intelligent heroine, and it was set in Egypt. I do love adventure romances with exotic settings. The dialogue sparkles, as Rupert always knows the most outrageous things to say to shock Daphne. He comes off as being a loser, but he's a very sharp, resourceful guy, and he comes to Daphne's aid multiple times. In fact, he is just what Daphne needs as she is suffering from "Premature Aging Syndrome." Her deceased husband was older than her and very stodgy, and so she's a bit stiff. Yes, she's a bit on the stuffy side, but she's spunky and sharp-tongued, more than able to keep up with Rupert. Her one and only passion (prior to Rupert, of course) is her love of deciphering hieroglyphics, a talent she had to keep hidden because of her husbands beliefs against educated, passionate women. If you like movies like "The Mummy" and "Indiana Jones," you'll like this. I think Daphne and Evie from "The Mummy" have some things in common. There are not many love scenes in this book, but Chase makes them count, and you never doubt the emotions between Rupert and Daphne. Although Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion, and The Mad Earl's Bride are still my favorites by her, this book is an excellent addition to my keeper shelf....more
Although even mediocre Loretta Chase is better than most authors, I found myself disappointed after reading this, for there had been a very long breakAlthough even mediocre Loretta Chase is better than most authors, I found myself disappointed after reading this, for there had been a very long break in which Ms. Chase wasn't gracing her world with excellently written romances. It was just on the dry side. I had to try really hard to get involved with Carsington and Mirabel, although they both were perfectly nice people and I didn't dislike them. I guess I just have very high standards for the author who wrote my favorite book of all time. So I'd give it three stars. If anything, it was a sign that Ms. Chase had not retired from writing romances forever. As Chase is a favorite, it's still a keeper for me....more
There is something to be said for rereads. I read this one more slowly this time, savoring the language and the scenes. I love dessert. It's my favoriThere is something to be said for rereads. I read this one more slowly this time, savoring the language and the scenes. I love dessert. It's my favorite meal. And I always eat my dessert very slowly. Sadly, I read this so fast the first time, since Ms. Stuart hadn't put out a book a while before this one, too fast to truly take in and appreciate all the nuances. This time, I tried to treat Black Ice as if it was a dessert to be savored. And indeed, it was like the most seductive, decadent kind of desserts. And, I love it even more this time around.
Can you fall in love with a ruthless killer? A man who cares nothing for life and has absolutely no sense of right or wrong? A man who will use violence, sex, or lies, in whatever way is necessary to get the job done? In real life, I hope never to find that out. But, in this book, I could totally believe that Chloe would fall in love with the covert operative who goes by the name of Bastien, among many.
Can love change the bleakest, darkest heart? I do believe it can. As she often does, Ms. Stuart did a great job of showing me exactly that.
Black Ice won't be for everyone. Not every reader will fall in love with a hero who is as ruthless as Bastien. I couldn't help but fall for him. Ms. Stuart knows how to write this kind of hero--like no other author that I've read. There are so many layers to the man who goes by Bastien Toussaint. I love how each layer is peeled away to reveal the man that Chloe (and I could love). He's a physically beautiful man, one of sinuous grace. He's completely elegant, even when he's doing unspeakable things. He's absolute, complete seduction. And then there's the way he risks life and limb, and wreaks all sort of havoc to protect Chloe. Like the woman in his past, and Chloe, I could not resist him. Funny to think I felt he was a bit too hard the first time I read this. Silly me. Now I realize that he's just what this Doctor ordered. Maybe I've come to appreciate this kind of hero more as I've aged. I'm glad for that.
Dark romance it might be, but Anne Stuart writes luscious, sensual romance like no other author for me. The love scenes--fantastic. Worth rereading again and again. So much to savor here.
The suspense and action elements were awesome. Nothing like a little danger with my romance to get my heart pumping. I am a sucker for a sophisticated setting-something about European locales for spy/suspense stories for me. I felt as though I was there in Paris on a wintery night. Seeing the dark, twisted deeds that the Committee did to keep the world safe, even if they had to sacrifice a few innocents along the way, looking so stylish and elegant in their black designer wear all the while. Watching the shadowy games and the more shadowy players. I could see this as a movie, and a great one, in the right hands. Maybe Luc Besson?
At the beginning of this story, Bastien seemed like he could very well watch a defenseless woman like Chloe, in the wrong place at the wrong time, die, and not shed a tear. But, something changes in him after he meets Chloe. By the end of the story, it's clear that he'd do just about anything to keep her alive and safe, even if he can't be with her. How could I not see his love for her? I found I didn't need the words. He's not a man to wear his heart on his sleeve, and by his own words, he normally feels nothing for no one; so when he tells her he loves her, it is that much more poignant. I could feel the ice break, and my heart with it.
I could go on. I get like that about Anne Stuart. But I won't this time. I'll end by saying this:
I think this book is going to be like fine wine. It will get even better with age; it will go down so smooth and then hit you with the fiery reminder of its potency after the fact--better and better each time I read it.
In my later reviews of this series, I used edged weapons analogies. I think of Bastien as a Bowie Knife. Brutal, deadly, beautiful.
This book, simply put, was fun! It was a nice change after my last book, which wasn't that fun. I liked the light-spirit of the story, with one of myThis book, simply put, was fun! It was a nice change after my last book, which wasn't that fun. I liked the light-spirit of the story, with one of my favorite themes: family. I adore my sister, so stories with sisters who love each other and get alone are always welcome.
Can I be honest? I read this book because Anne Stuart was one of the writers. I happily tried to pick out which parts of the narrative that she wrote, and I think I did a good job. But, in the process, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was very cool to get three, count them, three love stories in one. Each sister was very different, and their happy ending perfect for them. I liked each of their beaus, although Danny and Elric edged out slightly ahead. Danny seemed like an Anne Stuart hero, not from her Ice series, but from her lighter Harlequin romances. He was scrumptious! And Elric, well, I was cracking up that his name was Elric. Elric is a character by Michael Moorcock, an albino sorceror emperor of a dying race in a high fantasy series that I just started reading last year. I thought that was pretty cool that they used his name. And Elric was delicious, a wizard with long blond hair, dark eyes, and a silver earring, in a three piece suit. (drooling). He seemed a lot like Anne Stuart's kind of heroes. Crash was pretty cool, too. Easily the most traditionally gorgeous, and the kind of guy most women would fall in love with. Not as much my type, though. He works on motorcycles and lives in Italy. And the youngest sister, Mare, never got over him.
I liked each sister. They each had their own character quirks. I think Mare reminds me of my friends--movie buffs to their soul. She likes to quote movies. I liked Lizzie's penchant to manifest sexy (hooker) shoes when she's horny. She's determined to perfect the ancient practice of alchemy, but doesn't have it down just yet. Mainly, she creates bunnies from eating utensils. Dee has the ability to shapeshift, and paints pictures from the viewpoint of the animal she's shifted into. Because she shifts when she gets excited, she's been unable to have sex yet, making her The Oldest Virgin in America (or so she thinks).
The sisters' nefarious aunt casts a spell to bring the sisters' true loves to town, so they can have a happy life, and she can have their powers. This aunt is an evil witch who the sisters have been hiding from since their parents died. The sisters are fairly unhappy, unable to control their powers, and each dealing with the consequences of their unwanted abilities and having to live in obscurity. When their true loves come to town, it's clear that love does conquer all. And it's a lot of fun watching love do its work.
This is not a book to take seriously. It's a book to enjoy--laughing and enjoying the lovely, sexy romances for each sisters. And some drooling over the guys, lots of drooling....more
If Bastien Toussaint is like a bowie knife, brutally destructive, sharp and vicious, then Peter is a stiletto. They are both dangerous men, efficientIf Bastien Toussaint is like a bowie knife, brutally destructive, sharp and vicious, then Peter is a stiletto. They are both dangerous men, efficient weapons for the Committee. It's amazing how they could be so different, but still embody the ice cold, ruthless hero.
Peter starts out as a bland, gray ghost (as Genevieve calls him). He is deceptively mild-mannered in his role as assistant to billionaire philantropist Harry Van Dorn. Genevieve doesn't think much of him, except that he's annoyingly perceptive. However, that is an important tool in his arsenal: to be anywhere and everywhere, to blend in and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
On the second reread, it still took me a while to get a fix on Peter. He is so in the bland character that I underestimated him. Before I knew it, he had slipped under my skin. I can see why he drives Genevieve crazy. He is designed to be a woman's fatal flaw. I had to wonder how someone so bland could use sex as a weapon, but that was before he showed who he really was. The real man could probably seduce the panties off the most virtuous of nuns. The real man, well he's someone that is not to be underestimated.
Genevieve is a frustrating heroine. For a smart girl, she can make some stupid decisions. It's like she's almost all id. Her emotions seem to govern her intellect, which makes her an interesting counterpart to Peter, who analyzes and calculates every decision, until his well-buried heart makes its desires known. Still, his sharp mind maintains admirable control of the man.
Frankly, Black Ice is a hard act to follow. Bastien is so striking a ruthless hero, Peter throws you for a loop. However, that's good that he is so different. I found that although he didn't have that blatantly sexy edge of Bastien, I still loved him. He was the insidious kind of seduction that winds its way into your senses. If Bastien is a fine, potent wine, then Peter is like a tart, subtle dessert that you think you aren't impressed with at first, but the more you sample it, the more heady its taste becomes. Kind of like sherbet. I am an ice cream girl. Love its richness. But sherbet is something I always enjoy immensely when I eat it. And then I end up craving more.I read this book when I was tired out of my skull, and that's probably not a good time to evaluate a book, so it took me a while to feel his effects. However, I found that I enjoyed the sharp mind of his, the sensuality that he uses so effectively as a tool. I was very intrigued with how fast he fell for Genevieve, and once I thought about it, it made sense. Genevieve was not a woman easily dismissed, like the women in his past. He couldn't kill her or let her be killed. She meant too much to him. Although she was a very annoying woman, he had a way of getting her to do what he wanted, eventually. He kept her on her toes, made her alive with feeling, and killed her with his powerful, heady seduction.
Please forgive me if this review is incoherent. I am highly sleep-deprived right now. Although Cold as Ice just doesn't have the bite of Black Ice, I find that I still loved this book. Peter is in his own way just as irresistible as Bastien. His difference has an appeal of its own. Genevieve keeps things lively, and the plot moving, with her tendency to make stupid moves, and her complete inability to resist Peter. But who can blame her for the tendency to succumb to Peter?
Anne Stuart is an author who manages to keep me reading and never fails to lure me into her seductive web of dark romance and passion. Her tart humor is always appreciated. And no one writes a hero like this woman. It's rare that I don't enjoy her writing, and this story can't get less than five stars because what I love about her is here on offer. And Peter makes up for any shortcomings I might have seen as far as a villain that was more petulant child than anything else, and too quick a resolution on the suspense. Plus, the reappearance of Bastien and the advent of sexy Takashi O'Brien can definitely sway this reader's positive opinion.
The third book in the Ice series gives us the beautiful and deadly angel, Takashi O’Brien. His mission is to secure an ancient Japanese urn and to eliThe third book in the Ice series gives us the beautiful and deadly angel, Takashi O’Brien. His mission is to secure an ancient Japanese urn and to eliminate a young woman who knows how to lead a group of doomsday terrorists to a shrine where they plan to start Armageddon. But the man who never fails to carry through on his orders ends up falling in love with the woman he’s supposed to kill.
Honestly, I didn’t like the whole doomsday cult aspect. The bad guy was a loser, and I don’t like lazy, ineffectual bad guys. I can’t stand a villain who gets others to do all his dirty work and mainly stands around posturing. That’s definitely Shirosama. However, I loved the Japanese aspects, and this is the book where I meet my delicious bad boy Reno, who is Taka’s cousin. Taka takes a while to get a handle on. He’s all business, and he seems almost robotic at first. However, it becomes apparent that he can’t maintain that demeanor around Summer. For some reason, she just finds the chinks in his armor. And the more I read, the more I wanted to lick Taka, beautiful scoundrel that he was.
Anne Stuart doesn’t always write the most likable heroines. I don’t hate them, but sometimes I just kind of overlook them and focus on the heroes. Maybe she does that on purpose. I do like that she writes flawed, ordinary girls, because you can relate more to them, then the perfect angel heroines (if any author can get away with those, it’s Julie Garwood). I admit I liked Summer the most out of the heroines in the first three books. She was a reasonable girl, and her reactions and decisions make sense, considering. I think that she’s more mature than Chloe and more logical than Genevieve, but honestly, all the heroines fit their heroes in different ways. I couldn’t see Taka falling for any other heroine the way he does Summer.
If I continue my analogies from the first two Ice books reviews, I’d have to say that Taka is the katana. No, don’t think I’m just saying that because Taka is Japanese. When I think of deadly edged weapons, the most beautiful to be found is the katana. So, if Bastien is the Bowie knife, and Peter is the stiletto, then Taka is the katana.
See and admire:
I searched my heart and asked myself if I could give this book five stars if I didn’t really like the whole bad guy scenario, and if I felt a distance from Taka initially. Ultimately, I feel that this one is a five star book for me. I guess I just go there into ‘the zone’ when I read these books, and even if I have levels of five star-ness in comparison to other books, I can’t give it less. Let’s be honest. If I could imagine being trapped in a scenario with a guy who initially was going to kill me, and still might if the mission requires it (although he’d feel bad about) and still find it hot, I guess I have to say I bought this story, so that’s five stars for me.
Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever to get through this Ice series reread, but I am enjoying it immensely. It’s nice to be able to savor the writing of my favorite author this way. I usually read books faster than I would like the first time, and you miss the nuances when you do that.
I loved how I was kept guessing on Killian. Is he really the cold-hearted murderer his reputation suggests? Then why the acts of unselfish chivalry when he thinks no one is paying attention?
Once again, it struck me how much Killian truly loved Isobel. He was a man on a mission and he had to complete it, and his love for her was inconvenient and unadvised, but he couldn’t make that go away. Even though he did leave her life, she never left his heart, and for someone who apparently could care less about Isobel, he sure did keep track of her over the following eighteen years.
There is something about a hero who is so lethal and capable like Killian. Gives me happy shivers. I liked that Isobel knew her stuff as well. She was realistic for a woman who had been an intelligence operative for many of her adult years. Yet I also liked that it troubled her, what she had to do in her job as a Committee operative. While Killian seems to wear his heart on his sleeve less, he too is an honorable man in an elemental way. Not afraid to get his hands dirty to do his part to make the world a better place. I think that out of the Ice series so far, they are the most perfect match. Two soulmates, even if they don’t believe in the concept. For a dark concept, this book is rather blissfully romantic. Although don't expect the overt heart and flowers. That ain't Stuart's style and I'm glad she doesn't write that way and does it so well. I know when I read one of her books, she will surprise me with a romance that challenges the norm but truly gives me what I want in a romance novel.
I enjoyed catching up with the other Committee operatives: Bastien, Peter (who has an extended POV), and of course, my darling Reno. Happy to see these lethal men blissfully conquered by love, and waiting to see Reno get his own Cupid's Arrow to the heart, although there are signs already. The excitement level is rising to finally reread Reno’s book after something like four years. And of course, Mahmoud was both hilarious and a source of organic pathos, a child who is the symptom of a flawed, war and turmoil damaged world. How fitting that his surrogate parents would be two world-weary, dangerous spies. I cherish this book and this series.
Killian is a Saber. A sharp, deadly weapon made for efficient use.
Guy Pearce as Killian
Ruth Wilson as Isobel Lambert
***Original Review Below****
Anne Stuart does not disappoint. This book has all the things I love about Anne's books. And it has more. The characters are heroes on the edge, both the hero and the heroine. They live in the black heart of night, but fight for good the best way they know how. As much as I love Anne's heroes, Killian really sunk into me. His battle to do what must be done, and the fact that he never really got over Isobel in eighteen years. Isobel is convincing as a cool, competent leader for a covert organization. She suffers when she sends men out to their death, but she does it because it's the right thing to do. You want these two people to find peace. You want them to be together. In the hands of a master like Anne Stuart, you get what you want and more. ...more
I loved this book. I know a huge part of it was the Japanese hero. What can I say? I absoutely adore Asian men, and Reno is such a interesting guy. HeI loved this book. I know a huge part of it was the Japanese hero. What can I say? I absoutely adore Asian men, and Reno is such a interesting guy. He's not a nice guy, but boy is he sexy and in the heart he is a decent human being. He is one reluctant to fall in love hero, but deep down I think he fell for Jilly at first sight. He makes her pay for loving her though.
This book is action-packed and you don't get much down time. But it added to the almost Bonnie and Clyde appeal (without the overt criminal elements).
Boy the sex scenes are probably the steamiest I've read in an Anne Stuart. You really get the tension and the fire between Reno and Jilly. Jilly has no ability to resist Reno, and she knows it. Heck, I'm not sure I'd do better resisting him. I'm still trying to figure out Jilly's failed sexual experience. I'm scratching my head over that one.
For some reason I wasn't digging Reno's red hair. That bothered me a lot. I could deal with the tattoos, which has shown how I've changed in the years. But the red hair just didn't sound attractive to me. Probably because I love the glossy black hair of Asian men. Yum!
I have a secret fascination with the Japanese Yakuza, which was delightfully indulged somewhat with this book. I loved the tidbits about Japan that Stuart throws in. Not like a person who researched Japan, but truly loves the city and its inhabitants. This book made me want to jump on a plane and go to the country.
I was a bit worried about Jilly being so young, but it really didn't ruin the book for me. I think the way Stuart dealt with her young age was appropriate. She wasn't always certain and didn't always react the right way to situations, but who does at the age of 20. Reno also shows that he is a twentysomething and somewhat rebellious type, and so his actions were fitting.
I love the Ice series, although they definitely go there for romances. This book is no different. I think this one is my favorite because Reno is not as machine-like and completely apathetic about morality as the other heroes were (Don't get me wrong, I still love Bastian, Peter, Taka, and Killian for all their ruthless killerness). In fact, Reno has to work hard not to feel anything, particularly for Jilly. It's clear early on that Jilly is his Achilles' heel, although he makes her believe he can't stand her. If you're looking for a nice little romance with normal people who always do the right thing, and no body count, don't read this book. If you want an adrenaline ride with two characters who passionately love each other, even though they know it's folly, I think you will love this book. I adore Anne Stuart, so I was along for the ride. I thought the frenetic, intense, crazy adventurous theme of the book juxtaposed with glimpses into Japanese culture were thoroughly enjoyable. The book even ends with a wild climax that makes you wonder what these two will be up to in the future, but you don't doubt for a second that they will stay together because they are soulmates....more
I would have liked this book more except I thought the heroine Annie had the charisma of a wet dishrag. Too bad. I thought James, the hero was some kiI would have liked this book more except I thought the heroine Annie had the charisma of a wet dishrag. Too bad. I thought James, the hero was some kind of yummy. An Irish spy. Yes, please. Another book I need to reread to see if it has improved as I have aged....more
I am working my way through the Anne Stuart's Out-of-Print Gems collection on my Kindle, and it's wonderful to spend time with my favorite author of all time. I already read The Soldier And The Baby and chose this one next. I remembered not loving it the first time I read it. I don't know why, it just didn't stick with me.
I think that listening to a book the second time adds to the experience. I would admit that the robotic voice of Kindle Text to Speech in itself isn't a dramatic aid, but hearing the words of an author spoken out loud employs the auditory senses. Anne Stuart's writing feels good to the ears. She is a spare writer, but she is a master at creating imagery with a minimum of words. And atmosphere. This book seethes with Gothic atmosphere, and it's a perfect fusion of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Except Megan is neither the unearthly beauty and pure-hearted goodness of Belle nor the sheltered innocent, and easily victimized Christine Daae. Regardless, this story still works. Megan is a mature woman in her twenties who is wearied from taking care of her immature father who had done something very bad with this construction company, involving the architectural designs of reclusive Ethan Winslow. He manipulates his daughter into going to plead with Winslow to save his skin. Megan knows her dad is manipulating her, but it's a set habit to take care of her dad. Ethan Winslow's world is a dark place with a shadow lover, and a small-minded, vicious town fed into a frenzy by a religious fanatic preacher. Megan knows Ethan is no good for her, in the end, but she is drawn to him in a way that she cannot deny. His lonely heart cries out to hers.
Readers who enjoy that vibe of Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera with a tortured, disfigured, lion with a thorn in his paw recluse will find themselves drawn to the story for that reason. However, Stuart adds her own stamp to the novel with the Gothic elements and the suspense and tension of Megan being initially imprisoned in Ethan's house and surrounded by strange phenomena and even stranger people.
Despite the short nature of this story, Stuart deals with serious themes of prejudice, the danger of intolerance and mob mentality and violence, and the misuse of religion (not faith or belief in God, which is a very different thing). Ethan is a very angry, vengeful man. He has reason to feel that way, but loving Megan opens a possibility for him to have a real life outside of the prison of the strange house he designed and the prison of his mind and past.
I hate prejudice and bigotry and my heart went out to Ethan for being despised for something that he had no control over. The small-minded meanness with its ugly results of the townspeople was infuriating and sad that they could see no other way to be, and that they felt justified in their hatred of Ethan for no reason (although he did taunt them some).
This story was very romantic. It touches on the fantasy of the shadow lover who is both dangerous and alluring, and the appeal of being in a world of their own making. Their sensual encounters are well-written and passionate, drawing me into the story as I listened, and I could vividly see the story unfolding in my mind.
The characters are sketches in some ways. You can assume more about their personalities than Stuart reveals. I don't mind though. I am easily able to fill in the blanks based on their descriptions, actions and mannerisms. I liked Megan more this time. I can appreciate her personality more now at my age. I respect her independence and her intrinsic sense of right and wrong, and that she's not an innocent girl. She knows what she wants and is mature enough to know what she's sacrificing to have it. And even though I stubbornly wanted Ethan to go after her, I think she showed a lot of bravery to go after the man she wanted, especially with the fact that he would never be the Prince Charming one expects in the fairy tales. He's her Dark Prince, and that's better, in my book.
While this won't ever be a favorite of mine by Ms. Stuart (too many contenders for that), rereading has upped my rating for this novel. I can appreciate it in a way that I didn't before. I think that it has a lot to say about society and the petty mean-spiritedness that people are capable of, and its costly effects to all involved. The atmosphere is fantastic, dark and sinister and Gothic. But also enticing and seductive. The dark can be both depending on the person, their frame of reference. I know for me it is definitely both. I love the night, the velvet of the dark sky, the cooler breeze, and the quiet and settled feel of the nighttime. I feel a sense of peace communing with nature in the dark. But sometimes, the dark inspires fears of the unknown. The things that go bump in the night. Both are evident in this novel. Ethan will always be a creature of the night, but Megan is fine with that. they can create their own world in the night, where their love is inviolate.