Sunday, January 22, 2006
Black Ice by Anne Stuart
It feels like it took me a year to get my hands on this book. Of my many TBR lists, this title fell on one compiled from other reader reviews (i.e. Rosario, et al). Every review, every mention caught my attention and held it. Only problem was in locating the book. I live rurally (pix below) and, unlike in the city, am unable to run out and pick up a specific title right when the urge hits me. So the urge usually passes, I record title and author on a list and move on.
This one kept nagging me. And when I saw mention of its dark hero again last week, I couldn't take it anymore. I ordered it online and had it in my hands in days. At last.
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?
This hero is indeed dark. But Stuart portrays him honestly and without apology. It is the frankness with which she introduces Bastien that triggered my senses and kept me guessing until the end. The potential for him to be evil incarnate did not turn me from the story. Instead, it compelled me to keep watching him and waiting, page after page. That his own core is unknown even to him is fascinating. It is also what makes the story believable. Had Stuart given us a patent explanation for Bastien's actions, I would have been disappointed. Thankfully, Stuart chose to unearth his conscious silently--through impulse and instinct--with a destination known only to Stuart. "Page turner" doesn't begin to describe the pace of this story.
I liked the heroine as well; and thought her worthy of Bastien's obsession. I'll admit to find her a bit immature at moments, but really, Stuart paints her as close to the truth as I can tell. I imagine torture, terror and desperation give license to the occasional lapse in composure.
Just as she did with Bastien's motivation, Stuart reveals little in the telling of Bastien and Chloe's love affair. When it ultimately overcomes them, the reader is sucked under with the same force. I felt it. Sigh. I just love a romance where emotion runs as a current, under and through each scene, never overtly recognized or acknowledged until it sucks you under, changes the course of the story, ...and every other metaphor you can think of here.
Great read. My thanks to Anne Stuart.