Black Ice by Anne Stuart

Black Ice is the book that made me an Anne Stuart fan. As a classic author in the genre, I had heard many good things about Ms. Stuart's work from my fellow readers. Now I understand why.

I wouldn't recommend Black Ice, first entry in the Ice series, just to romantic suspense fans. There are lots of thrills, chilling suspense and some really complex characters that don't fit within the romance genre. I loved that aspect of it. The "hero" or perhaps the anti-hero, Bastien is a cold somewhat manipulative man who would do anything (and practically anyone) to get his mission finished. I'm not even sure I'd call him tortured because he knows exactly what he wants and how to get and he has no bones about telling anyone what he wants them to hear straight in their face. The heroine, Chloe, is somewhat innocent but not a pushover by any means. She acts as any sane person would when in the company of lunatics, killers and thieves and often feels like the connection to the reader who is just an ordinary person in an extraordinary circumstance. Sometimes she acted stupidly because of her interest in Bastien which put her life on the line but thankfully such moments as these didn't show up often.

Suspense fans will get a kick out of the story unraveling but romance fans may find the story a bit cold. Stuart pushes the boundaries of the romance genre in the amount of danger, violence and darkness that covers each page. You almost think there won't be an HEA but as the story goes on, shades of Bastien's humanity and interest in Chloe begins to shine through his coldness. I loved how the characters felt real. Bastien didn't feel like a cookie cutter hero but someone who's completely lost his way in life because of the losses he's felt and the darkness he's seen. Even when he starts to get romantically interested in Chloe, he's still a highly unpredictible and lethal man. I love that he didn't change on impact but you could see the little changes and the potential for their future.

Black Ice is an amazing suspense entry that I highly recommend for suspense lovers and romantic suspense readers who want a little something more gritty and real in the genre.