Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #1
Hero: Alex Parker
Heroine: Mallory Rooney
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: March 30, 2014
Finished On: April 2, 2014
A Cold Dark Place is the debut book in the Cold Justice series by the uber talented author of romantic suspense Toni Anderson. Few authors out there manage to keep my interest when it comes to romantic suspense and Toni Anderson is one of those authors who always manages to hit the vital spots by keeping the romance and suspense factor balanced, which is the secret to writing highly readable romantic suspense novels.
A Cold Dark Place is quite the fitting title to this novel. Alex Parker is a man who prefers the darkness to do what he is entrusted to do. Employed by an organization known as “The Gateway Project” that is so deeply hidden in the layered complexities of the US government, Alex is an assassin who enacts justice by killing the worst sort of scum. Counting down the days until he would be free of his promise that binds him to his employers, his job becomes doubly dangerous when he realizes that someone on the inside is out to make him and that someone is the deliciously enticing FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney to whom his instant attraction makes her a more than dangerous “adversary”.
Mallory’s life mission for the past eighteen years has been to become smart enough and tough enough to find her twin sister’s abductor and bring him to justice. The pain that she lives through every single day, blaming herself for not being there for the one and only person with whom she had shared an inexplicable connection with is what drives her, even when she meets the same dead end, time and yet again. Though her experience in hunting killers and analyzing their behavior is limited, her sharp intelligence and observation skills ends her up in the BAU and in the direct sight of the man who would do everything in his power to claim her as a replacement for his lost love.
Alex doesn’t want the complication that starting anything up with Mallory would bring his way, but he is as helpless as she in the face of the strong web of desire that binds them together, that finds them entwined in the most delicious of embraces time and yet again. And when Alex finds out that the killer they are all hunting, whose violence had all of a sudden started to escalate, has his sights set on Mallory, there is no stopping him from vowing to protect her at all and any cost, even if it means continuing with the pretense and charade that would continue to keep Mallory in the dark when it comes to who he truly is.
Toni Anderson does a splendid job in telling this story; it is dark, creepy and keeps you guessing and questioning your emotions when it comes to everything that takes place in the span of this novel. Alex Parker himself is reason enough to fall in love with the story, his tortured soul was one that touched me on a deep level. Betrayal on a level that most people would never be strong enough to live with makes Alex the man he is, and though each kill chips away at his already battered soul, the honorable man that Alex is refuses to back down from paying the debt he owes to his employers.
It is the pain, drive and determination that keeps Mallory doggedly working to unearth what had happened to her sister that made me respect and love her character as much as I did Alex’s. The guilt that threatens to consume her would not have been easy to deal with. Alex in her life means Mallory learns to live a little, and stop feeling the survivor’s guilt and in return she reaches out to the scarred bits and pieces of Alex’s heart and soul and puts it back together, piece by piece, without even realizing the fact that they are both headed towards a love strong enough to consume them both.
It was the killer that kept me fascinated and riveted to the edge of my seat and I think that is exactly what Toni was aiming for when she created him. I sometimes wonder at the cruelty in this world that breeds killers of the likes found in this book, the inhumanity they suffer as children and the loss of their innocence at the hands of those that should protect them from the rest of the world. It is hard not to feel sad thinking about the person he could have been otherwise, but in equal doses I found myself horrified by the extent of his depravity and violent nature together with his uncanny ability to have kept fooling people for so long. Toni also makes the reader question whether the laws and agencies that be are really enough to ensure that justice is done. Perhaps vigilantism does serve its purpose with the swiftness of with which it brings the victims the closure they seek. A book that always makes you question what you know to be right and wrong and casts you into that place shadowed by the shades of grey is in my opinion a book well done.
Though the lack of an epilogue was felt, knowing that there would be another book in the series on the way definitely helps. Recommended for fans of Toni Anderson and fans of dark romantic suspense. You’d definitely love this one!
Final Verdict: Ties you up in knots; A Cold Dark Place makes for a riveting read!
His lips were surprisingly soft, his mouth tasting of whiskey and beer and really hot man. Suddenly he took control of the kiss, diving deeper, tongue tangling with hers with a possession that made her insides turn molten. She found herself pressed up against the glass facade of the building, Alex’s one hand still buried deep in her pocket, the other cupping the back of her head.
“Too much?” His voice sounded nothing like him. He’d heard this version before, in that prison in Morocco. His inner animal tearing loose, but this time it was from pleasure not pain.
She shook her head and her nails dug into his shoulders. “More,” she demanded. Then she kissed his neck, bit down hard enough to make him laugh.
She could put her mark on him anytime.
She shook her head, squirming to get closer. “More,” she demanded and nibbled his jaw. Her nails scratched his back, digging into his skin with the sort of pain that aroused him more than he’d ever imagined possible. He wrapped his hand around her other leg and locked them both around his waist. And then every pulsing inch of him was embedded inside her, blasted by the velvet clench of wet heat.
“Okay?” he asked. Okay didn’t even begin to describe what he was feeling. He was pretty sure the word for it hadn’t been invented yet.
“Condom,” he said between gritted teeth.
She jerked open the bedside drawer, relieved to find a box. Alex scrambled out of his jeans, covered and buried himself deep. She locked her legs around his hips and then there were no thoughts, just sensation and pleasure and slick bodies, striving to get as close as possible, striving for that place where nothing else mattered.”
Sated and satisfied, she began to drift off to sleep. “You’re a good man, Alex Parker.”
He kissed the top of her head. “No. But you make me feel like I could be.”
“I still miss her.” Her voice cracked.
He put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed. He could relate. He still missed his mother and his grandfather and his friends. But he knew they were dead and never coming back. You had to move on. “We’re supposed to miss them. That’’s their gift.”
Huge amber eyes met his. “Pain is a gift?”
He nodded. “It proves they meant something to us. That even years after losing them we still feel them. Here.”
With one hard thrust he was buried deep in her heat.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, nails bit into his flesh. “Harder.”
He drove into her, again and again, nothing but an animal who needed to satisfy a primal urge.
He took the condom from her fingers and covered himself. Eased her slowly over him and shifted her panties aside. He was big, aroused. She sank down just a little bit and he gritted his teeth. She looked down, the vision of him inside her, of the lace against pale skin, was such a turn on she came with a surprised shudder.
“We’re not dating, remember.” He thrust inside her and she sucked in a moan. “You didn’t go and do anything foolish like fall for me, did you, Mallory?” he asked.
Emotion welled up inside her. She shook her head and wrapped her legs around his hips. Watched his pupils dilate. “No, sir.”
“Good.” He swallowed. “Me either.”
But as she looked into his eyes she knew they were both lying and it felt dark and dangerous and wonderful.
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