Luck has been on my side recently, as I have read several books that I’ve truly enjoyed. Ice Storm will join the ranks at the top. I devoured it as quickly as I possibly could, neglecting chores, meals, and my husband. This will not be a story for everyone, however – it features a dark romance between two dark characters. But this author has made a great impression on me and I’ll be snapping up other books by her to see if they’re as good.
Isobel Lambert is the head of the Committee, a secret organization that attempts to shape important events in the world. Her organization’s numbers are dwindling, though, due to love and the eventual burnout of secret agents. When a new mission is handed to the Committee, she is the operative assigned to the job. But it is a mission that she is loathe to fulfill, for she must extract Serafin – “the Butcher” – from Morocco and bring him to Committee headquarters, where he will trade valuable information for help in establishing his new life. You see, Serafin is considered the most dangerous man in the world and a powerful force on the side of evil. He has helped with drug smuggling, acted as the right hand man of ruthless dictators, and overseen ethnic purging, to name a few things. Isobel does not want to keep this man alive, even if it is to make a deal, but she’ll do her job. Until, that is, she sees a picture of Serafin and her desire to kill the man increases tenfold.
The picture is of a man named Killian whom Isobel had thought she’d killed almost two decades earlier, when she led a very different life under a different name. Mary Isobel Curwen was a free spirit who traveled to Europe weeks before her schooling there would begin. After being saved from gang rape by a handsome young American man named Killian, she accompanied him to France and quickly fell in love. She was elated when he returned her love and the two spent several days in bed enjoying each other. One day she discovered that Killian willingly left in the company of terrorists. When she followed to confront him, she learned the entirety of his betrayal, resulting in her shooting the first man she ever loved. Mary assumed a new name and physique and now Isobel Lambert relies on that disguise to get her through what will undoubtedly be a difficult couple of days.
There is so much more I could say regarding Isobel’s and Killian’s relationship, but you’ll have to read the book to find all the secrets and twists. I found some of the withheld information easy to guess, but there were enough big turns to keep me happily shocked. As I’ve said, these are dark characters. The Killian of decades past was brutally pragmatic in his chosen profession. It took me a while to warm up to him, because of his unfeeling thoughts towards Mary. And Isobel is certainly a tough nut. She has been shaped by her past experience and is every bit the cold-blooded agent. Her nickname is the Ice Queen and she proudly wears the title. One of the few problems I had with the story involved her continued cold nature and inability to soften. In the beginning one can understand that she wants to and possibly will kill Killian, but unlike Laurie, who thought the ending was so pitch-perfect that it earned the book DIK status for her, I found Isobel’s thoughts disconcerting, to say the least.
The romance is full of anger, lies, passion, and yes, love. Both Isobel and Killian are proud, strong individuals and it takes extreme circumstances to break through their walls and get to the true emotions within. Isobel is close to burnout when she goes on this mission and that probably helped her break enough to let Killian in. While Killian seems awful in the beginning, I ended up liking him the most, as he has a great capacity to care for and understand others. It is telling that when both main characters have two names, Killian is referred to by the one he used when young Mary fell in love with him, while Isobel has truly become a harder, different person and uses her new name. The action and adventure add to the racy emotions and are very entertaining, but never overwhelm the focus of the story, which is the relationship between Isobel and Killian.
For those who have read the other three books in this series, several old characters play a role in the neutralization of the threat. Peter still works with Isobel at the Committee, so we see him often, and Bastien flies in to help resolve matters that are also affecting him and his family. Reno, Taka’s cousin, comes as a new recruit for the organization and brings some comedy and spice. Nevertheless, some of the scenes with the secondary characters do not seem necessary and simply interrupt the flow of the larger story. At the end, all the old agents help defeat the Big Bad and it felt a little contrived, dramatic, and quick.
This was a great, fast read that I will likely pick up again. When I finished the book, a smile crossed my face, because I knew I’d found a great new source for books. If you enjoy dark heroes and heroines who deal in death and passion, you should pick up Ice Storm.