Annie Sutherland is fast finding out her life was built on lies. Haunted by her father’s death, Annie seeks out his protégé in the CIA, James McKinley, and is thrust into a secret shadow world that sends shivers of terror through her. For she finds James is no longer the conservative bureaucrat she remembers, but a mysterious, tortured fugitive – very armed and very dangerous.
Annie and James are thrown together on a wild run that draws them closer to each other, yet Annie is still not sure who James really is – a tender, passionate lover or a ruthless assassin? Who can she possibly trust with violence exploding all around her … and love perhaps the greatest snare of all…?
For the first time, the 4th member of my reading group, Lisa, consented to her views being made public here. (I’ve been probing her mind long before this, only, she balked at taking the final step to
Jace: I stopped reading at page 127 (end of chapter 6).
Lisa: I should've followed your lead, Jace.
Jace: My main problem with this story was the unappealing characters - Annie was irritating and James was just all right - his supposedly dangerous persona didn't come through. I didn't care whether they lived or died, to be frank, and they nearly bored me out of my skull.
Lisa: You hit the nail on the ol' head there with boring, that's for sure.
Mel: I thought both James and Annie were TSTL. The whole plot just didn't work for me and like you, I couldn't care if they lived or died.
Lisa: A huge disappointment - this is what I felt once I finished this novel. I kept hoping it would get better but it was painfully slow with two terribly irritating characters. After about 50 pages in, with the story going nowhere fast, I felt like I was trudging my way up an endless hill through the thick mud. It was a laborious read, to say the least.
I'm starting to wonder if Anne Stuart's earlier heroes are all robotic, unfeeling weirdoes who hurt the heroine repeatedly (physically and emotionally) without any remorse whatsoever and the idiot heroine stands by and takes it all.
The other thing that bothered me about the hero here was the excessive drinking. You'd think they'd be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning for the amount that they send back!
Mel: That made me laugh! He was drunk most of the book, wasn't he? How did he stay so on top of things? Yikes, talk about a functioning alcoholic. You can tell this is an older novel. He even smoked a couple of times and that's so unusual to see anymore.
Lisa: Ok, that's what I'd like to know! The guy sent back a bottle of tequila like every day! Way too unbelievable that he could be such a great assassin. I didn't notice that actually, but it's definitely weird in this day and age to read about - funny how society changes about things like that.
Annie is wacked. She's not here or there and pretty much lets people dictate her life to her. Why she loves James is hard to fathom because up to the end he couldn't have cared less about what she does. I was hoping for some big redemption scene to make up for how he treated her but there was nothing. Even the sex scenes were blah and totally devoid of anything resembling love or like even!
Jace: James alternated between wanting to help Annie and killing her. He was supposed to be a stone-cold and efficient killer, for goodness' sake - this kind of wishy-washiness just irritated the heck out of me. I wished he had just killed her and be done with it.
Mel: Annie got on my nerves so much I was wishing James would kill her. I think that would have made the book better. I don't see how this is supposed to be one of Stuart's best. Her "Ice" series is so much better IMO.
Lisa: James is an ass. He didn't know if he was coming or going. His character was totally unlikeable for me.
Jace: That stupid Annie wanted James to help her find out why her father was killed and by whom - and when he finally agreed, she ran away and wanted to forget the whole thing. That did it ... I refused to waste another minute on this book.
Mel: J, did you flip to the back to see who killed her father? Why James wasted most of the book not telling her who killed the old man is beyond me. That actually pissed me off. I was like what the hell, all of this crap and in the end … who the killer turned out to be!
Lisa: Ok, I am sooooo glad I'm not the only one! Why didn't he freakin' tell her from the beginning - he couldn't cared either way (he said at the start) so why the secrecy? In a way, he felt like an uber Bastien Toussaint from Black Ice. Thank god Stuart has improved her heroes’ personality.
Mel: I was like WTF and yet Annie ignores this and still loves him to bits. Blech.
Lisa: TSTL - poster child. Didn't it gross you out when he takes her for the first time and she's not even "ready" - he forces himself on her pretty much by holding down her arms. That was icky for me.
Mel: I have one thing to say about their first time together and that's ouch! Yeah, that's my kind of romance hero (insert sarcasm).
Lisa: It's a very moribund, cold story where people talk about dying like they were going to sleep. The romance, I felt, was non-existent and by the end, the characters were just TSTL and apathetic for me. Why did Annie's dad toy with her? Did he want her to end up with James at the end?
Mel: That's one thing that I could not figure out; the whole “why” of it. Her dad reminded me of the daddy dearest from Nightfall. Completely without parental love or caring. He treated Annie like a possession and manipulated her whole existence.
This is one of those stories that I wish I could get back the time I spent reading it.
Lisa: Ya, that was a bit of let down. I kept going through the book hoping for a moment of "redeemability" - that of course never happened.
Mel: My rating is 2.5
Lisa: My rating is 2.5 and I'm being generous!