Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Ice, Book 3
Hero: Takashi O’Brien
Heroine: Summer Hawthorne
Date of Publication: April 1, 2007
Started On: November 16, 2010
Finished On: November 17, 2010
I have finished the 3rd book in my crazed craving for the “gamma” heroes that Anne Stuart creates so effectively, i.e. those heroes that you hate to love. Her stories aren’t definitely for the ideal romantic, but rather who can take the darker side of their heroes and still love them in the end. Its a good thing that there are still 2 more books in the Ice series left for me to go through. Hopefully by the end of the 5th book my hunger for “gamma” heroes would have been fed and appeased – or not!
The Hero: Takashi O’Brien is definitely not your average romance book hero. Though he is described as one of the most beautiful males the heroine has laid her eyes on with his high perfect cheekbones, exotic eyes of an indeterminate shade on a narrow face with a rich full mouth and hair long and silky black, Takashi is different such that he is half-Japanese and half-American. I have certainly never come across a hero who is a mix of Japanese and American in a novel before and that makes Takashi doubly appealing from my point of view. A member of the Yakuza family, one of Japan’s organized crime family, Takashi is one of the most valuable assets of The Committee headed by the cool and level-headed Isobel Lambert. Takashi had grown up with a grandfather who had never approved of him, mainly because of his tainted American blood and the eventual suicide of his beautiful and self-absorbed mother. Known as the King of Death, readers of the Ice series first come across Takashi in the 2nd book of the series Cold as Ice which I reviewed earlier. Having barely survived from the tortures inflicted on him by a mad man who had been hellbent on driving the world into financial chaos, Takashi has promised himself that he wouldn’t ever hesitate on doing what needs to be done on a mission, no matter how difficult.
The Heroine: 28 year old Summer Hawthorne, daughter of the beautiful, vivacious and self-absorbed Lianne, has an advanced degree in Asian Art and works as a junior curator at the Sansone Museum in California. Summer has had a less than ideal childhood when she had faced the dark and perverted side of human nature when she had just been around 5 years of age. It is her Japanese nanny Hana Hayashi who had mothered her, disciplined her and showered her with unconditional love, something her mother had never had the time for. The untimely death of her nanny in an accident had thrown Summer into a tailspin and she had attempted suicide the scars of which she carries till today. Summer thrives on keeping her emotions in check, a tight rein on her feelings something which she has learned to do since the last time she had broken down and cried her heart out when her nanny had died. With blond hair, blue eyes and average looks and slightly overweight in mannequin standards, Summer likes the quiet in her life something which she works hard to cultivate. The only person Summer cares more than anything else is her half sister Jilly who gets her own story in the 5th book of this series.
Storyline: Summer holds in her possession a Hayashi Urn left with her by her beloved nanny for safekeeping, something which The True Realization Fellowship, a religious cult group based in Japan would kill for. Shirosama, the head of this worldwide spiritual movement is determined to acquire the Hayashi Urn at any cost as it is a vital part of his plans on cleansing the world and being reborn as the holy man he is supposed to become. Powerful enough to initiate the launch of several deadly attacks simultaneously all over the world to fulfill his purpose, Shirsama comes under the radar of The Committee for his nefarious plans on wiping out more than half of the world’s population to fulfill his madman mission. When Summer is kidnapped on her way to her car after the opening reception of the Sansone Museum by Shirsama’s followers, Summer who has no inkling of the powerful artifact in her hands barely survives the attempt when rescue comes in the form of deadly Takashi O’Brien who spins her world out of control from the first get go. Though Summer doesn’t know it at first, it is Takashi’s mission is to obtain the original Hayashi Urn and then kill Summer, the only person in the world who knows the location of the holy shrine which Shirsama needs in order to fulfill his affairs.
The First Encounter: Summer and Takashi’s first encounter takes place when Summer is rescued by Takashi after being thrown into the trunk of a limo by Shirsama’s goons who have orders to bring Summer in alive, to coerce the information he requires by using whatever means necessary.
Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in the US, Japan and later in the UK.
Narrated in: The main story is told from Takashi and Summer’s point of view though there is a mix of other points of views of other main characters within the story as it unfolds.
Awareness between the hero and heroine: Takashi O’Brien is a man who is known for his brilliant talent in seducing whatever he needs out of his mission. When a man of such lethal beauty whose interests lie in perfect mannequin like women finds himself helpless in his fascination for a bedraggled looking woman who is supposed to die at his hands, Takashi is at a loss as to how to control his wayward emotions. Summer whose childhood had scarred her from wanting physical contact with a man though she had tried hard with her 3 month boyfriend Scott, Summer is shocked to realize that the feelings coursing through her for a man so unlike any she had ever come across is desire to possess and be possessed in his powerful arms. The thing that I love most about the Ice series is this constant hum of awareness between the characters which heightens to unbearable levels before it explodes into the most rousing acts of coming together between the hero and heroine.
The turning point: Though Takashi is determined that he wouldn’t fail on his mission to kill Summer, the fact that he is reluctant to and he cannot go through with any of his subtle attempts on her life is a major turning point for a man like Takashi. Though he doesn’t want to admit it to himself, Summer gets under his skin in more ways than one. Things reach their heady conclusion and point of no return after the first scene of seduction where Takashi is determined to wreak havoc on Summer’s emotions and finds himself for the first time ever in loss of control of his feelings which was one of the best parts of this story.
Ending: Of course, a happily ever after for Takashi and Summer.
1- Takashi O’Brien. Anyone who has read my reviews on the past 2 books of the Ice series would know that I gave my heart unconditionally to Bastien Toussiant, hero from the 1st book, Black Ice in the series. Takashi comes in a close second plance to Bastien with his ruthlessness but a tenderness deep within him that refuses to be ignored when Summer comes into the picture.
2- Summer Hawthorne. Though some readers found her to be lacking I found her refreshingly likable. Summer is a heroine who knows when to fight and when to accept what Takashi rouses in her 28 year old dormant set of emotions.
3- Loved the scene where Takashi loses his legendary control, without even being aware of it. Mmm.. sign me up for the next American-Japanese hero ladies!
4- Loved the ending! Brought forth a lot of emotions in me which I revel in as a reader.
5- Loved the continuous unending adventure that never ceases to entertain in these books. There is a perfect balance of romance, adventure and pure evil in Stuart’s books that is a heady combination.
1- Fans of romantic suspense who can stand gamma heroes.
2- Fans of Anne Stuart.
The feel of her body against his shook him to the core. He stared down at her, his hands on her neck, and he did the unthinkable. He leaned down and put his mouth against hers.
He felt her shock vibrate through her, but she didn’t pull away. She closed her eyes and let him kiss her, passive, accepting, and he realized in the short, endless time he’d known her he’d never kissed her. Never more than the brief touch of his mouth against hers.
And suddenly that wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. He stopped thinking, pulling her up from the bench and turning her in his arms. He caught her face in his hands and kissed her, full and open-mouthed, and her response was instant, powerful, the compliant woman vanishing. She put her arms around his neck, pulled him down to her and made a low sound of need as his tongue touched hers.
She’d shut herself off again, and as the morning light filled the car he let himself watch her. She was pale and drawn, with violet patches beneath her eyes, the scattering of golden freckles across her nose. She’d managed to braid her long hair again, but it was coming loose, tangling on her shoulders. He wanted to untie her hair and bury his face in it, breathe in the smell of it.
Hell, it probably smelled of smoke and ashes from the explosion they’d just barely managed to outrun. Her skin would smell of fear. But he wanted to drown in it anyway.
He was insane. Out of his fucking mind, and she had no idea.
Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!