Author: Anne Stuart
Copyright: 2005 (Mira); pgs. 377
Series: 1st in the “Ice” series
Who: Chloe Underwood and Bastien Toussaint
From the back: 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 château, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.
Comments: I found this book hard to put down. I could have easily finished it in two days — one, if I had started reading it earlier in the day — but I forced myself to put it aside so I wouldn’t be two reviews behind.
Wow. Yes, Bastien isn’t your typical romance hero, and that’s what makes him interesting. A ruthless agent tired of the “at any cost” mandate of the agency he works for, Bastien is beyond burnout. This makes him vulnerable to his sub-conscience, which propels him to find out what’s become of Chloe in the château. Caring about anyone is a death sentence to someone in his line of work. As he sees it, if he’s going to die anyway, at least let it be for doing the right thing.
Though Bastien would have Chloe think otherwise, he is a good guy. The Committee is, regardless of their tactics, supposed to be working for the greater good. The fact that Bastien never considers turning traitor indicates he still have a few idealistic loyalties. However, he doesn’t hesitate to tell Chloe that he isn’t a nice man, that she shouldn’t make him out to be something he isn’t, and that she should forget about him and get on with her life. Once he realizes he’s in love with her, it’s more important to him that he keeps her safe by staying out of her life.
I liked Chloe. She is surprisingly strong — manages to withstand being tortured longer than one would have expected, bounces back from more than one brush with death, and faces down the same adversary twice. Though she has good reason to, she can’t seem to bring herself to hate Bastien for very long. She doesn’t realize the effect she has on him, that the small acts of kindness are the results of her influence on him: sparing the dogs, going back for his coat because she asks for it, etc. She has unknowingly wormed her way into his heart. She easily could have been annoying and whiny. I glad that she wasn’t. I don’t think a weak, clingy heroine could have lasted long with Bastien.
Looking forward to reading the other books in this series.
Started: 10 February 2008
Finished: 13 February 2008