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Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Ice, Book 4
Hero: Thomas Henry Killian St. Claire
Heroine: Mary Isobel Curwen (Madame Isobel Lambert)
Date of Publication: November 1, 2007
Started On: November 17, 2010
Finished On: November 18, 2010
The 4th book in the Ice series has certainly been the most different book in the series yet. Though it is the story of the cool and impeccable head of the Committee Madame Isobel Lambert, the story is made doubly appealing and interesting by the fact that Peter and Bastien from books 1 and 2 both play prominent roles in this novel.
The Hero: Thomas Henry Killian St. Claire is a man so steeped in the world of lies and the dangerous company that he keeps that it is hard to separate what is real and what is not when it comes to him. Killian has earned himself the reputation of being a ruthless mercenary who sells his skills to those who can afford his high price and is known as a man who has no compulsion in killing. Known as The Butcher amongst various circles, Killian had grown up in the streets of LA with a junkie mother and had never known his father. Little about Killian’s history is detailed in the story though his bad-ass character appealed to me on so many levels and I wanted to know more about him. The actual reality of who Killian turns out to be is the real shocker in the story which I will not reveal in my review.
The Heroine: Anyone who has read the past 3 books in the Ice series would know and would have come to like the beautiful and impeccable Madame Isobel Lambert. Isobel had been handed over the reins of the Committee after her predecessor had been forced into retirement because the absolute power that had been in his hands had in the end corrupted him. Though everyone thinks Isobel is British, she is actually Mary Isobel Curwen from Vermont of USA. With a mother who had died when she was quite young and a father who had remarried and had no place for her in his new life, Isobel had just been 19 years old when she had packed her bags and made her way to England to join the Cordon Bleu in Paris. It is there that the naive yet stubborn headed Isobel with a passionate heart and innocent soul gets her first taste of lust, love, passion and ultimate betrayal at the hands of Killian the first man she shoots and leaves to his ultimate death. Isobel had then married her husband of 6 years, Stephan Lambert who had been 30 years older than her. Right after her husband’s death she had been recruited to the Committee and had never looked back. Though she is known as the Ice Queen or Iron Maiden, Isobel now 37 years old is a woman who has just about reached her limit in the endless life and death decisions that she has to make on a daily basis. Though no one knows it, Isobel has a habit of crying in her shower after a kill, not for the death of a person who had so obviously deserved it, but rather for pieces of her soul which she loses with every pull of the trigger.
Storyline: The Committee’s newest mission, bringing in Josef Serafin from somewhere in South Africa safely back to the UK, a man in his early forties who had made countless enemies everywhere with his life spent in circles of the most dangerous men around the world, selling his skill to the highest bidders is willing to impart valuable Intel on various terrorist organizations in the world with whom he had worked for in exchange for his safe passage into UK, becomes a doubly dangerous mission when Isobel realizes that Josef Serafin is none other than Killian, the one man she had loved and shot and left to his death almost 18 years ago. A straightforward mission that Isobel vows to herself would end up in herself killing Killian once and for all becomes something life threatening when death and mayhem waits for them at every turn, forcing Isobel to trust Killian and his ruthless determination in arriving in the UK safely. What Isobel doesn’t know is that Killian is actually on a mission that would bring stop to life as Isobel knows it, a mission which at the end would make Isobel’s hatred for him an absolute certainty.
The First Encounter: Isobel and Killian’s first encounter takes place 18 years prior to the beginning of the story when Killian becomes Isobel’s savior from a ruthless group of men who had been hellbent on raping and torturing the 19 year old Isobel who had just got lost in the streets of Plymouth on her way to her hostel.
Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in the UK, USA and regions of South Africa.
Narrative Form: This story is told in third person from both Killian and Isobel’s point of view. As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, heroes from the previous books also come into prominent roles in this story so at certain parts the story is narrated in third person from their points of views as well.
Awareness between the hero and heroine: When Killian had first met Isobel with her wild tangled mane of red hair with a smattering of freckles thrown into the mix, Killian had only had one intention, use her for his cover and discard her when he has no use for her any longer. But what Killian doesn’t count on is the 19 year old innocent Isobel’s ability to get under his skin and lodge herself deeply into his soul within the two weeks that he spends with her. And nor does he count on the fact that in Isobel’s arms is the only place that Killian is afraid that he might lose his legendary control and if he gives in he would never ever have a chance of getting back his emotions intact. The young and innocent Isobel had been played well and through and as she falls in love with the enigmatic and beautiful Killian by her side, so grows the intense awareness that she has of Killian as a man. From the first ruthlessly invigorating kiss that takes place between Kilian and Isobel to the 18 years they spent apart during which Isobel gets labeled as a frigid until Killian takes her in his arms again and drives home the point that she is not, this story packs a whole punch of emotions in the awareness department. I absolutely loved how Ms. Stuart managed to blend in the past with the present effectively giving the reader heady insights into the explosive relationship between Killian and Isobel.
The turning point: 18 years ago, Killian’s orders had been to kill Isobel and get rid of her once and for all after his use of her as a cover had run its course. But Killian who doesn’t acknowledge the fact that Isobel had come to mean something more to him than just a casual fuck walks away leaving her alive but drugged enough not to recall anything which is saying a lot for a man like himself who always puts his missions first. And even when they later meet, though Isobel knows that she wants to kill him and convinces herself that she is going to do just that, she is much more flustered than she lets on, when the man who had fueled her dreams for the past couple of years turns up once again in flesh, more appealing than ever, proving once again that she is vulnerable where he is concerned and always would be.
- I absolutely loved the fact that this story was different from the other stories in the series such that there is prior history between the hero and heroine that makes their love so much more delicious and heady to read about. Their passion is explosive and ruthless at times and when it does finally break through the impeccable fortress around each of their hearts, these moments were the best parts in the story. I loved the fact that both Killian and Isobel are equals such that they both have lives that revolve around situations of life and death each and every day.
- Killian. Though there is not much of a history on his character, I flat out adored him right from the very beginning. Though he aims to be ruthless and puts his mission first above everything else, his humane nature comes into light with little Mahmoud he rescues from the throes of a suicide bomber, a little boy who is determined he would kill Killian one day, a mission that Killian is willing to see gets fulfilled by giving the little boy a fighting chance to make something of himself.
- I absolutely reveled in revisiting characters of the past books in the Ice series. Scratch the need for an epilogue and give me Bastien served on a silver platter with each new story in the Ice series and I would go to sleep a happy woman every night! LOL! Did you all just get the fact that I love Bastien. Yes, I do!
- It was interesting to see how Ms. Stuart lays down the foundation for the next and last story in the Ice series, starring the cousin of Takashi O’Brien who undeniably has a fiery and rather unwanted attraction towards Takashi’s wife’s sister-in-law. This story was begging to be told from the end of the last book. And I am so looking forward to how Reno’s highly unusual character would fare as a recruit for the Committee.
- Fans of the Ice series from Anne Stuart.
- Fans of romantic suspense.
Her body hurt. He hadn’t meant to hurt her – in fact, she was probably to blame for it. She’d pushed him. He’d pushed her. They’d done everything she could think of and then things she’d never imagined, as the long, endless hours stretched into the night and beyond, and she’d taken him every way she could. And now she was lying in his arms, entwined with him, her body aching, her soul hurting, her heart ready to explode. They’d had rough sex, kinky sex, silly sex, deliciously nasty sex. And then, God help her, they’d made love. He’d moved deep inside her body, his eyes looking into hers, his hands cradling her face with devastating gentleness, and he’d been motionless as he came inside her. And then he’d said, “I love you.”