Goodness, I didn't mean to fall off the face of the planet. I have read a bunch of books since the beginning of the year (about 75 actually). Most have been re-reads or DNFs (which I totally count because I skim through to the end). I'm not sure what I'll post about because I don't want to write 75 different reviews. Ice Storm was one of my re-reads (I think I've read it more than five times at this point).
The RWA (Romance Writers Association) fall-out is still going on. It's interesting in the sense of watching a company deal/not deal on social media or with crisis management. To be fair...I might be the only person who loves watching company's deal with social media fall-out. In the middle of all that, Flatiron Books (a publisher) began their hype tour of one of their newly published books, called American Dirt. I read the blurb and it's not my normal type of book so I didn't pay any attention (I saw one blurb about it being a new "Great American Novel" which I thought was over-reaching simply because you can't know what books will stay in the populace conscious. It's a fairly overstated marketing term for new books anyways). Then this one person who I'm super BEC about joined the conversation about the issues around the book, the release and publishing. So I tuned out....because I just can't with that person but uh...it's a good conversation to have.
Back to the book...
Title: Ice Storm (#4 in the Ice Series)
Author: Anne Stuart
Page Number: 347 pages (paperback)
Genre: romance, romantic suspense, contemporary
Publisher: Mira Books
Behind her mask is a deadly secret?
The powerful head of the covert mercenary organization The Committee, Isobel Lambert is a sleek, sophisticated professional who comes into contact with some of the most dangerous people in the world. But beneath Isobel's cool exterior a ghost exists, haunting her with memories of another life, a life that ended long ago.
But Isobel's past and present are about to collide when Serafin, mercenary, assassin and the most dangerous man in the world, makes a deal with The Committee. Seventeen years ago Isobel shot him and left him for dead. Now it looks as if he's tracked her down for revenge. But Isobel knows all too well that looks can be deceiving and that's what she's counting on to keep her cover in this international masquerade of murder
I think I have the e-book, paperback and audio book of this title as well. It's like a lovely dose of chicken soup (book wise). The main characters are Isobel Lambert (or Madame Lambert) and Serafin (who goes by another name throughout the book but since it's kinda also a spoiler I feel like I shouldn't name it?). Isobel has been in all of the other books (Peter from book number two also makes multiple appearances).
Isobel has been described as perfect and ageless, able to function in many different "worlds" (business, governmental and mercenary). This book tells two stories at once in the first half. The first deals with Isobel's origin story and her first encounter with Serafin, who introduces her to the mercenary world. The second story deals with Isobel and Serafin's present day interaction, which includes a intelligence briefing in exchange for extradition. Eventually, once the first story ends, only the second story (or the present day) one continues through the second part of the book.
Serafin is in North Africa (Morocco originally) and wants extradition, money, and security in order to escape. He has a long career as a second-in-command to several world despots and tyrants (who all want him dead for disloyalty). When Isobel finds him, he's in a deserted town with a small child (Mahmoud). Isobel is wary of the small child (who has been tagging along with Serafin for awhile now). Isobel, Serafin and Mahmoud begin their journey out, except Serafin changes the route (now into Algeria). Of course, because of Serafin's relationships with evil men the group is pursued, attacked and in constant danger. This adds a lot of drama and excitement to the beginning of the book.
Serafin is convinced that there is a mole in The Committee, asking Isobel is question Harry Thomason (the former head) and other agents. Isobel is mostly convinced that Serafin is paranoid and not to be trusted. The reader knows more about what's going on behind the scenes, but not what's going to happen. As Isobel is the current head of The Committee, (with Peter as second-in-command) many of the other agents and former agents make appearances.
Eventually Isobel and Serafin make it to Spain (and then London) with Mahmoud. There is a terrific showdown between Isobel, Serafin and their nemesis. Mahmoud finds a new home (he makes an appearance in another book).
Isobel is the head of The Committee, giving her a huge power and ability to be a vicious and/or ruthless character. Yet, Stuart tends to keep her lady characters vulnerable while her male characters tends to be more ruthless as a foil. Isobel is quite determined, very efficient and cold-blooded when needed but she's vulnerable at the core. Serafin is similar, pragmatic, secretive, and vicious. His weakness (if there is any) seem to be random more than anything: Mahmoud and Isobel. I mean, it is a romance after all (in reference to Isobel-- not Mahmoud).
There are some questions, I wander how clued in Isobel is to the intelligence section of The Committee, as she never knows Serafin's secret until the very end. She's more fleshed out than when she first appeared (in book one and again in book two) and closer to how she appeared in book three. Her goal is fewer lives lost but she's willing to kill bad men. As she's the only lady agent (until the "fire" series) her juxtaposition against Peter, Taka, and Bastien is stark. That being said, she's still a bad-ass like her earlier version in the book.