Adding To My Favorites: Anne Stuart’s “Black Ice”

24 Feb

stuart-anne-black-ice

The job was a killer.

Living paycheck to paycheck in Paris, American book translator Chloe Underwood would give anything for some excitement and passion–even a little danger. So when she’s offered a lucrative weekend gig translating at a business conference in a remote chateau, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.

Then by chance Chloe discovers her employers are anything but the entrepreneurs they appear, and suddenly she knows far too much. Her clients are illegal arms dealers, and one of them is ordered to kill her. But instead, Bastien Toussaint drags Chloe away, and the next thing she knows she’s on the run with the most terrifying and seductive man she’s ever met. What were his motives–and would she live long enough to find out?

* * *

I started to read this late one evening/night last week. I wanted to read for one, maybe two hours and then go to bed.

Fast forward a few hours. It’s 2:30 a.m. and Chloe just got on a plane to the States, also known as page 301. I have this feeling/knot in my stomache I get when I’m reading a special-to-me book, but I have to get up early the next morning, so I need to sleep and page 301 is a good place to stop. And since I’m really responsible, I get up and go to bed.

Fast forward ten minutes and I get up again.

I have to finish this novel.

* * *

One of the first things I think: this is different that the other romantic suspense novels with serial killers I have read so far. I’m not much for spies in historicals, but I really dig the secret agent angle in this one. It reminds me of movies like the Jason Bourne trilogy and some James Bond. I love it.

One of the first things I realize: Stuart isn’t afraid to put her characters through the wringer and I love it.

Black Ice is a tightly paced novel. There are only two POV characters: Chloe and Bastien. No detour to other characters for whatever reason. The story is focused with nearly no noticeable padding.

Black Ice is a stark, economical and tightly written novel:

But just as she was about to let herself sink into the pleasure of it, nasty little warning bells stopped her. He was, oh, so adept. He knew how to kiss, how to us his lips, his tongue, his hands, and if she were just a little more stupid she’d be awash with desire.
But something wasn’t right. It was a performance that even she could see through. He was making all the right moves, saying all the right things, but some part of him was standing back, coolly watching her response.
Her hands, which were just about to clutch his shoulders, pushed him away instead.
[…] she wanted to see what it would be like if he really kissed her. Not a performance, meant to dazzle her. But something he wanted as much as she did.

because later you get this:

“I’m going to kiss you, Chloe,” he said in a quite voice. “Just a simple kiss goodbye. And then you can forget all about me. Stockholm Syndrome is nothing more than a myth. Go home and find someone to love.”
She didn’t bother trying to explain. She simply stood there as he cupped her face in his hands, warm, strong, hands that had protected her, killed for her. His lips were whisper-soft against hers, just a touch. He kissed her eyelids, her nose, her brow, her cheeks with the tears streaming down them, he kissed her mouth again, a slow, deep, gentle kiss that held all the promise of what they would never have. It was the kiss of a man in love, and for a moment she simply floated, lost in the perfect beauty of his mouth on hers.
He released her. “Breathe, Chloe,” he whispered.

“Breathe, Chloe” probably doesn’t have much impact when you just look at the quote alone. But I included it because when you read the novel, there is this build-up with these words throughout the story, and when you read them in this quote – and the other times this line is used – all this build-up is there and…well, “breathe” really got to me.

Then there is the use of the color black and the ice-imagery and on the whole a story that makes no compromise and doesn’t hold back and it’s far from pretty so pretties like “breathe” really get special, and there is the last sentence of the novel…

…and I’m blown away.

Breathe.

Verdict: 5/5

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10 Responses to “Adding To My Favorites: Anne Stuart’s “Black Ice””

  1. Jace Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    Hey, I’m glad you love this! 😀 I had enjoyed it quite a bit too … I LOVE Stuart’s bad-boy heroes. 😉 Bastien is delicious in this one. 😀

    Is this your 1st Anne Stuart book?

    Are you going to read the rest of this series? There are 4 more, I think, and I have ALL of them in TBR. 😀

  2. Taja Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Jace, so you’re a Stuart fan? That’s great. Any recommendations?

    This is my second Stuart. The first one was a historical, Hidden Honor, and I was far from impressed by it. So it was quite a surprise that I liked the way Black Ice is written so much. But I don’t complain! 😀

    Yep, I’m going to read the rest of this series. In fact, I already bought and finished the second one, Cold As Ice. LOL

  3. Jace Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    I guess you can say I’m “somewhat” a Stuart fan. 😀 I have a love-hate relationship with her books. I love her contemporaries but not her historicals.

    If you want to try another contemp, I can recommend SHADOW LOVER. If you want to read my review, it’s here.

    Oh merde! HIDDEN HONOR isn’t good?! I have it sitting in the TBR! In fact, I have about 20 of her books in the TBR. 😀 My reading buddies and I went crazy last year after we read BLACK ICE and bought as many of her backlist as we could. We read some of the older stories, and they just didn’t measure up to BLACK ICE or SHADOW LOVER. 😦

  4. Christine Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Oh wow, Taja. I simply love how you wrote this review. I’m utterly sold on reading this now. You know… I think I saw this on my library’s used bookshelf a few weeks ago and I wanted it, but didn’t have my wallet with me. I wonder if it’s still there….

    Do you know if the books in this series have to be read in order? I’m a bit strict about that. 🙂

  5. ~ames~ Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 6:16 am #

    I read this way back in the day and I enjoyed it.

    I love when a book keeps me up at night though. When I first discovered romances, a lot of books were like that for me. Now it takes a truly good book to keep me up. 😛

  6. Taja Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    Jace – merde? 😉 LOL

    Hidden Honor was an okay read for me. I was slightly annoyed with the heroine who was supposed to be intelligent and I didn’t exactly see it like that. Therefore the main romance didn’t work well for me. I liked the secondary romance better. It also was a few years back so maybe my impression now would be different. 🙂

    Shadow Lover sounds very interesting. Very good review and thanks for the link. Sadly, it’s oop and it would be difficult for me to get it. But the comments mentioned Shadows at Sunset. And that one is still available. For less than 4 Euro – I’m off to order it now. 😀

    20 books TBR? – I’m jealous. 😉

    Christine – thank you. It is one of the fastest written posts I ever did. I just knew what it wanted to look like. 😀

    Was it my getting out of bed again that sold you? 😉 LOL But, umh, if you read it, I hope you’ll like it at least a bit. (*anxious*)

    I’m strict about reading in order, too, and only seldom make exceptions. But Black Ice is the first one in the series, so no worries. You can read the second one on its own without missing things (much) but there are recurring characters in these two novels so I don’t know for how long this holds true.

    ~ames~ – I love when that happens but yeah, it’s not all that often. So I was really happy that I found a new one. 😀

  7. Carolyn Jean Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    Hey! You are so right about the built up words, like “breathe, Chloe!” I loved all that. I thought it really humanized the hero, while making hi seem smart.

    PS: don’t take books off your sidebar, book reading twin! I think you will really love Silent.

  8. Carolyn Jean Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Plus, my sidebar is so out of date, it more looks like I”m copying you. For ex, I just ordered stranger. And just finished Veil!!!

  9. Taja Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Carolyn Jean, I just loved the way Black Ice was written.

    I don’t have a problem with being a book reading twin. I left the comment in case you did. In fact, I like it and think it’s funny in a good way.

    And you’re one book up. I have yet to start with either Veil or Stranger. And Silent of course, so it’s two actually.

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