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REVIEW: Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart

Dear Ms. Stuart,

Fire and Ice is the fifth and (if I’m not mistaken) final book in your Ice series, which features the agents of a ruthless spy organization known as the Committee. This one is all about the flamboyant Reno, Taka’s younger cousin.

Back in the third book, Ice Blue, Reno, aka Hiromasa Shinoda, a video-game loving Japanese punk with long red hair and teardrops tattooed on his cheeks, met up with Jilly Lovitz, Summer’s brainy half sister, who was then eighteen years old. From the moment those two laid eyes on each other, a powerful attraction was born, but Summer and Taka made Reno promise to stay far away from Jilly.

Fire and Ice opens two years later. Reno is now twenty-seven and an agent of the Committee (though how exactly he is able to do the Committee’s work looking as conspicuous as he does is not explained). In the opening scene, Reno learns that while Taka and Summer have gone into hiding from Russian mercenaries who have been hired to take out all the Committee’s agents, Jilly, unaware that they are no longer in Tokyo, has decided to pay them a visit. Realizing that Jilly is in danger, Reno breaks his promise to stay away from her in order to go to Japan and save her life.

Jilly has come to Tokyo in the wake of a one-night stand that went so badly she is uncertain whether or not she is technically still a virgin. Jilly, who at age twenty has already graduated from college and is now working on her PhD, has always been isolated from her peers because of her intelligence and her studies. In the two years since she last saw Reno, she has not gotten over her crush on him, and he is one of her reasons for coming to Japan.

Just as three of the Russian mercenaries are about to grab Jilly from Summer and Taka’s deserted apartment, Reno shows up and kills them. After escaping on the back of a motorcycle to a traditional Japanese inn where they encounter more mercenaries, Reno and Jilly head for the mountains. Reno’s grandfather, a yakuza (Japanese mafia) boss, has an onsen (traditional bathouse) there.

On the way to the onsen, they bicker as Reno does his best to annoy Jilly in order to maintain a distance between them and thus keep his promise to Summer and Taka, and even more so because he values his own freedom and recognizes that his feelings for Jilly endanger it. Jilly, meanwhile, keeps telling herself that now that she has seen him kill, her crush on Reno is a thing of yesterday. But even she realizes that she protests too much.

Just as they are about to arrive in the onsen, all hell breaks loose, leading Reno to wonder if there’s a traitor in his grandfather’s organization. So Reno and Jilly go on the run again, and this time, sharing close quarters leads to growing intimacy between them, as do close calls with death and desire.

Fire and Ice is a tough book to grade and review. At the end of my review of Ice Storm, I indicate that I have enjoyed the Ice series, but that its pleasures were diminishing for me. I loved Black Ice so much that though it’s not perfect, I gave it an A. Cold as Ice was a B+ for me, Ice Blue a B, and Ice Storm a B-.

So how did I feel about Fire and Ice? Fortunately, I am not sorry I spent $6.99 on it. But at the same time, I wish I loved it as much as I loved Black Ice.

One of the best things about Fire and Ice is that it is only nominally about the Committee. Except for a very brief appearance by Peter Madsen in the first scene of the book, the only other Committee agent who shows up in this story is Taka, and he is there far more in his capacity as Reno’s cousin and Jilly’s brother-in-law than as a secret agent.

That is all to the good in my opinion, because the Committee came very close to being reduced to a bunch of bumbling fools in Ice Storm, and I think that as a consequence the ruthless spy organization aspect of this series is pretty much played out.

Other elements we have seen before in the earlier books are present in Fire and Ice, including the pairing of a relatively innocent and softhearted heroine with a more experienced and tough hero, the hero and heroine’s going on the run together, the hero’s saving the heroine’s life while forcing her to confront her own desire for him, the heroine’s initial certainty that the hero doesn’t return her feelings, and her shock when faced with the brutality of death and killing.

While some of these ingredients are key to what made me love Black Ice, the fifth time around they don’t feel as fresh as they once did, and for the most part (with exceptions like a powerful scene in Reno’s apartment that involves an unexpected twist), I think Fire and Ice is at its weakest when they come into play.

The book is at its strongest when exploring newer terrain, such as the Japan setting, the relative youth of its hero and heroine, Reno’s fear of commitment, and the vulnerability that lies behind his punkster facade. You win big points from me for these aspects of the book. Reno, in particular, is a truly memorable character, especially in those moments where he reveals himself to Jilly or to the reader.

The fact that Reno and Jilly are in love to begin with is both a weakness and a strength in my eyes. It is mentioned on your website that a free story about Reno and Jilly’s first meeting will be available soon. I look forward to reading it, but there were times when I wished that falling-in-love process was shown more in the pages of Fire and Ice.

It’s clear why Jilly has a crush on the flamboyant Reno, and why her feelings deepen as he protects her, but it’s not so evident why Reno would feel the same way about Jilly, beyond his physical lust for her body, since although we are told she is brilliant, that brilliance isn’t shown, and otherwise there isn’t much that makes Jilly distinctive or different from many other young women, except perhaps for her for her sexual inexperience.

There is a scene in which Jilly puts together some information about Reno and arrives at a different view of him than she had before, and this scene does give a bit of insight into why Jilly might have attracted him. I would have liked to know even more about this aspect of his background.

At the same time, the presence of Jilly and Reno’s mutual obsession from the very first page of the book also serves to give the book a different twist that the previous Ice books did not have. Because he is already in love to begin with, Reno is softer with Jilly and more protective of her than Bastien, Peter, Taka and Serafin were with Chloe, Genevieve, Summer and Isobel, respectively. That is one of the things I liked best about Fire and Ice, especially since Reno is young and not ready to settle down, confused by his promises to Summer and Taka to stay away from Jilly and not sure what he wants to do about any of it.

On the whole, I found Reno intriguing enough to hold my attention easily, but Jilly less so. The Japan setting felt well-researched to me, and I was glad to read a book that was set at such a different locale. While there were times during Fire and Ice that I felt I was reading something I’d read before, there was just enough freshness to keep me interested, and I also savored your lean, tight writing style at several points. Had I not read the earlier books in the series, I would probably have liked Fire and Ice even more, but I still liked it as much as its most recent predecessor, or perhaps even a bit more. B- for Fire and Ice.

Sincerely,

Janine

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

38 Comments

  1. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 16:58:51

    I wasn’t sure whether or not to try this one since my interest has been dropping with each book. Thanks for making up my mind.

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  2. Janine
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 17:04:28

    Always happy to be of help, Jayne.

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  3. Sunita
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 18:29:20

    Thanks for the review, Janine. This is really thorough and helpful. Like you, I loved Black Ice. The other three are still in my TBR pile. This one will go on too, since I can’t imagine not at least trying to read an Anne Stuart novel! The preexisting relationship and the way it changes the h/h dynamic sound really appealing to me.

    Even when Stuart is not at her best, I so enjoy her writing style that on balance the book is usually well worth my time and attention.

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  4. Janine
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 18:33:14

    You’re welcome, Sunita. If you’re like me, how much you enjoy Fire and Ice may depend on what order you read the books in. I suspect that had I read it second or third I would have enjoyed it more. I think the fact that I had read the other four books in the series first made it less fresh to me. But I still enjoyed it even so. I agree with you on Stuart’s writing style. In her more recent books, it has gotten leaner and more spare and I really enjoy that aspect of it.

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  5. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 19:23:35

    I’ve read the first four and think this is the best romantic suspense series ever!!! Can you tell I’m an Anne Stuart fan? I loved Reno in Ice Blue and can’t wait to read Fire and Ice.

    Janine, I agree with you that the heroines aren’t as strong as the heroes. But I LIKE seeing a little more vulnerability and softness from a woman, and I’m a sucker for innocence. I enjoy reading female characters I can relate to, who are more like me, at least as much as I admire sexually liberated, kick-ass chicks.

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  6. Jesbelle
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 19:50:31

    Sorry, I haven’t even heard of this series before, but I read your opening paragraph and all I could think was “holy crap, fanfiction?”

    Okay, please bear with my not-so-inner nerd, but Final Fantasy VII (video game) had a character named Reno. Kind of a punk with long red hair and tear-shaped tattoos beneath his eyes. He worked for a security type group called the Turks who were always straddling the law.

    Anyway, I always loved Reno, and even though I’m sure this is just a coincidence, I might really need to check out this series now!

    Pic of FF7′s Reno here for any who are curious:
    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y251/xFreddyxx/Stephany/Photoshop%20Stock%20Photos/Misc%20Final%20Fantasy/Reno.jpg

    /end nerd rant. :)

    edit: to include better pic…

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  7. Jace
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 21:42:07

    Thanks for the review. Can’t wait to add this to my collection. ;)

    I loved Black Ice and have the rest of the books in TBR, along with more Stuarts. Yes, I’m a fan. I just need to read ‘em as fast as I buy ‘em.

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  8. sula
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 22:05:53

    While I would be tempted to read this book simply because it is refreshing to find a hero who is not Caucasian, I have to say that the Ice novels are beginning to be a little too repetitive for me. I felt that a lot of really interesting potential was left unexplored in Ice Blue in terms of Taka’s identity as a multi-racial man growing up between cultures. I wanted to know a lot more about what drove him, and perhaps it was just me, but I didn’t get much of a feel for him being any different than Bastien (for example) for all that he had a Japanese name.

    Other elements we have seen before in the earlier books are present in Fire and Ice, including the pairing of a relatively innocent and softhearted heroine with a more experienced and tough hero, the hero and heroine's going on the run together, the hero's saving the heroine's life while forcing her to confront her own desire for him, the heroine's initial certainty that the hero doesn't return her feelings, and her shock when faced with the brutality of death and killing.

    Precisely. I can only enjoy the same thing so many times in a row before it becomes boring. I can’t see myself paying money for this one, but if it shows up in my library, I would check it out for the hero alone.

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  9. CourtneyCarroll
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 22:15:10

    Thanks for the review Janine. This is interesting to me because I actually prefer Anne Stuart’s older contemporaries (not her historicals), but “Fire and Ice” was my favorite in the Ice series. I think the reason it worked so well for me was, as you mentioned, the minimal amount of Committee stories and other POVs from Committee members and the “bad guys.” Reno is possibly my favorite Ice hero (although I loved Peter as well), but it’s not as clear why Reno fell for Jilly as it was why she developed her initial crush on him.

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  10. Ann Bruce
    May 01, 2008 @ 13:28:14

    Fortunately, I am not sorry I spent $6.99 on it.

    Thank, God. I bought this book yesterday. However, while I enjoy the Ice series (even if the enjoyment diminishes slightly with each title), I’m ready for something new from Anne Stuart. Connected books that go on for too long can sometimes feel stale. (Not that it would stop me from buying AS since I’m such a fangirl.)

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  11. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 19:45:31

    Janine, I agree with you that the heroines aren't as strong as the heroes. But I LIKE seeing a little more vulnerability and softness from a woman, and I'm a sucker for innocence. I enjoy reading female characters I can relate to, who are more like me, at least as much as I admire sexually liberated, kick-ass chicks.

    Jill, I can enjoy an innocent and vulnerable heroine as much as a sexually liberated one (Leda in Kinsale’s The Shadow and the Star is one of my favorite heroines ever), but I still need to understand why, beyond virginity, the heroine would attract the hero. In Fire and Ice, I did see a little of that, especially in the scene in which Jilly realizes something about Reno’s past. But I would have loved for there to be more along those lines.

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  12. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 19:53:23

    Sorry, I haven't even heard of this series before, but I read your opening paragraph and all I could think was “holy crap, fanfiction?”

    Okay, please bear with my not-so-inner nerd, but Final Fantasy VII (video game) had a character named Reno. Kind of a punk with long red hair and tear-shaped tattoos beneath his eyes. He worked for a security type group called the Turks who were always straddling the law.

    Anyway, I always loved Reno, and even though I'm sure this is just a coincidence, I might really need to check out this series now!

    I don’t think it’s a conicidence. Stuart mentions here that Reno took his name from a video game. He loves video games and I’m sure she it is Final Fantasy VII that she is referring to. I sent it to Jennie, who also plans to review it, so I no longer have it and am not certain of this, but I think Final Fantasy may have been mentioned in an author’s note as well.

    This series is worth reading so I think you might enjoy the books if you pick them up to see more about the video game connection.

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  13. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 20:06:13

    While I would be tempted to read this book simply because it is refreshing to find a hero who is not Caucasian, I have to say that the Ice novels are beginning to be a little too repetitive for me. I felt that a lot of really interesting potential was left unexplored in Ice Blue in terms of Taka's identity as a multi-racial man growing up between cultures. I wanted to know a lot more about what drove him, and perhaps it was just me, but I didn't get much of a feel for him being any different than Bastien (for example) for all that he had a Japanese name.

    Sula, I actually felt that Stuart did a better job of that in Fire and Ice. There was more in the way of exploration of Reno’s background and his cultural identity than we got with Taka in Ice Blue. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t have loved to have even more.

    For me it seemed that Reno alternated between being what I’m now thinking of as a typical “Ice” hero in some scenes, and a more individual and distinct character in other scenes, those in which his more vulnerable and youthful side showed. I enjoyed the latter scenes more than the former, and I was glad that Stuart jettisoned the Committee as much as she did. I was engaged and interested in the scenes in which Reno felt like a much different character from the other Committee agents, but in those scenes where he behaved similarly to the way they did in the earlier books, I was less hooked. Overall, I noticed that I didn’t turn the pages as compulsively this time. But still, I feel the book was worth the money.

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  14. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 20:15:24

    Courtney — Glad you enjoyed the book. I enjoy Stuart’s more recent contemporaries more than her earlier ones. This is partly because of the way her prose has tightened up, and partly because her heroes seem to me to have more depth in these recent books. There seems to be a vulnerability that underlies the darkness, and that, combined with the way they save the heroines’ lives, makes the heroines’ attraction to them more understandable to me.

    Ann — I agree with you. As much as I’ve enjoyed the Ice series, I too feel that I’m ready for something new from Stuart.

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  15. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 20:16:47

    Jace, I somehow missed your comment. Apologies for that. I hope you enjoy the book!

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  16. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 20:20:32

    I also want to add something I forgot to mention in my review. The Japan setting felt authentic to me. I am by no means an expert on Japan, but I spent a little time in that country a couple of years ago, and as for me at least, Stuart’s research paid off. I liked the little details that reminded me of my time there, and as far as I could tell, she didn’t get anything wrong.

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  17. Jesbelle
    May 02, 2008 @ 09:29:32

    Janine, thanks for the link. Considering her latest post has another FFVII character all over it, I’m begining to think this is not a coincidence at all. I’ll definitly be checking out the series, and I’ve got my local library hunting down the first book for me now. Thanks for the reivew!

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  18. freecia
    May 02, 2008 @ 12:53:12

    Read it in ebook format. Maybe should have waited for the library to get it. I like Anne’s books and love Reno but this one was…. I wish the editor had sent it back for another round or two. There are plot gaps so big that the story is basically riding on Reno’s novelty factor. If we didn’t know him from a previous book, and understand he has his own brand of compassion, then it’d be so easy to dismiss him.

    I enjoyed the story but wish Reno and Jillian had a tighter storyline. They could have been so interesting. Also, I found that while the Japan angle was interesting, she picked up the over-hyped aspects of the culture westerners like to make a big hoo-hah over. For example, the “outfit” Kyo brought? Tokyo makes Manhattan shopping look like a suburban mall. There’s every store under the sun in Tokyo, including GAP. There’s no problem with getting regular American clothes. And the tats Jilly is so enchanted with? Men with tattoos aren’t allowed into bathhouses or onsens. I’m nitpicking, I know.

    I feel like a teacher that would also give this book a B-/C+ and chide the student because you KNOW they can produce A material if they put their heart into it.

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  19. Janine
    May 02, 2008 @ 14:12:24

    Jesbelle, I hope you enjoy the series. The Japan connection doesn’t begin until the second book, Cold as Ice, when Taka shows up, and Reno himself doesn’t appear until the third book, Ice Blue. But the first book, Black Ice, is my favorite book in the series, so I’m glad you are starting there.

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  20. Janine
    May 02, 2008 @ 14:21:46

    freecia, I had forgotten about tattoos and onsens. But thinking about it, I feel that Stuart left herself some wiggle room there. Would it apply to a ryokan bath as well? And didn’t Reno say that the ryokan bath was deserted when he went there? (I could be mistaken in that). The onsen they were driving to was private and belonged to Reno’s grandfather, so I feel his grandfather would have made an exception and allowed Reno to go there when his life and Jilly’s were in danger and they needed a safe place.

    As for the clothes, I feel that Stuart had a very good explanation in Jilly’s height. IIRC, Reno told Jilly that because she was so tall, his friend had trouble finding clothing that would fit her, and had to get a cross-dresser’s outfit. That actually made a lot of sense to me, because from what I’ve heard from an American who lives there, it really is difficult for tall Americans to find clothes in their sizes in Japan.

    I do agree with you though that Stuart highlighted some of the aspects of contemporary Japan that fascinate westerners, but I thought that this fit the heightened tone of the Ice books. Still, by the end of the book, part of me was longing for a quieter portrait of the country, something like Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen.

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  21. flip
    May 02, 2008 @ 16:38:20

    Like I stated on my review on goodreads. I love Anne Stuart. I enjoyed this book. But I was disappointed. The real failure in this story is character development. Stuart really doesn’t explain how Reno became such a bad boy. Yes, there is a comment about his mother. But it doesn’t really explain why he is the way that he is. Especially when Stuart throws in a tantalizing glimpse of a very different Reno.

    Secondly, I thought Reno’s treatment of Jilly was lame for such a bad boy. Especially since in prior novels, Stuart gave us tantalizing glimpses of just how bad Reno is. Remember in Blue Ice, Summer (Jilly’s sister) is shocked by his bondage pornography. In this novel, there is a theme of how Jilly wants to surrender or submit to Reno, yet Stuart doesn’t really explore the bondage and submission.

    Honestly, it would have been much more intense and believable than the I am being mean to you for your own good theme in this novel.

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  22. Janine
    May 02, 2008 @ 16:55:38

    flip — I am kind of glad that Stuart didn’t go the bondage route. I can enjoy bondage, but in this case, Jilly was so out of her depth with him. The differences in power between them would have been even more pronounced had the book gone in that direction.

    I agree that it would have been nice to hear more about how and why Reno had become who he was (to the degree that he was), but I was actually glad that he wasn’t as ruthless as some of the other Ice heroes, both because Jilly was so innocent and young, and because there has already been a lot of ruthlessness in this series.

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  23. flip
    May 02, 2008 @ 17:06:54

    Janine,
    Submission by the heroines is a constant theme for Anne Stuart. But while her heroes are dominating, they are not sadistic. They don’t enjoy hurting the heroines. So when I am talking bondage, I am not talking S&M. I am talking domination and submission. Actually considering the Jilly’s age and inexperience, Reno’s treatment of her hit a real sour note with me. The reasoning for it was lame. If he is going to be bad and dominate her, do so in a mutually satisfactory way. One of the hottest scenes, when he pressed her against the way and asked her “do you want to fuck.” The scene is totally about domination and submission.

    flip

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  24. Janine
    May 03, 2008 @ 09:21:07

    flip, I understood that you meant bondage rather than S&M. But I was kind of thinking that the way it might play out would be a scene where Jilly was tied up, and then Reno turned her on — something that bordered on a forced seduction scenario. I guess the reason I imgained it that way is because given Jilly’s youth and inexperience, as well as her ambivalent feelings about Reno’s being a killer, I have a hard time picturing her asking Reno to tie her up, or consenting to it in advance of being seduced into consenting. Also, let’s face it, Stuart is very good at writing sex that is only borderline consensual. I don’t really want to see a borderline consensual bondage scene involving a heroine as young and innocent as Jilly. But that’s just my personal preference.

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  25. flip
    May 03, 2008 @ 10:31:04

    Janine, I totally respect your personal preferences. Honestly, I couldn’t bear Reno forcing Jilly myself. Even in this book, the emotional cruelty was a bit too much for me. But the more I think about it, the more I want a sequel. I really do want more character development. Not only for Reno, but Jilly needs to be developed more. Lastly, the transformation of Reno was a little too instantaneous. It really speaks to the talent of the author. These are two great characters and there is more of a story to tell.

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  26. Janine
    May 03, 2008 @ 11:00:59

    I don’t know if we will get a sequel but according to Stuart’s site, there is a free prequel story in the works.

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  27. Janet
    May 03, 2008 @ 11:48:38

    I just bought this yesterday, so I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m feeling frustrated because the vibe of the book feels so like Ice Blue redux. I adored Black Ice, and I even liked Cold As Ice better than you did, I think, Janine, but I could feel the weight of my skull as my eyes rolled all the way back in my head at the thought of ONE MORE HEROINE who is a traumatized almost virgin come (heh) to save the cynical and sexually gifted hero. If that song is going to play again, at least give me a variation. Anyway, hopefully it will improve for me; I’d hate to feel so disappointed in the last book of this series.

    Robin

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  28. Janine
    May 03, 2008 @ 15:46:05

    Hi Robin. I hope Fire and Ice improves for you. Are you sure you liked Cold as Ice (Peter and Genevieve’s book) better than I did? I gave it a B+. Or are you thinking of the last book, Ice Storm, with Isobel and Serafin?

    Even though I didn’t love Jilly, at least her portrayal was consistent. Though I enjoyed Ice Storm, it bothered me that Isobel was said to be the coldly compentent and ruthless head of an intelligence organization, when in reality she turned out to be anything but competent or ruthless, and I could not imagine her running the Committee or being a successful operative for all those years. In Jilly’s case, for the most part her actions fit her character’s background, except for the brilliant part.

    In any case, Fire and Ice didn’t feel like Ice Blue redux to me for a few reasons, some having to do with spoilers, but a lot of it because Reno didn’t seem like anywhere near as much of a badass as Taka. Whereas Taka was trying to kill Summer half the time, Reno mostly wanted to protect Jilly, even if he did go about it in a mixed up way.

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  29. DS
    May 03, 2008 @ 18:48:57

    I really liked Stuart’s contemporaries for Onyx years back. The heroes were over the top alpha, the heroines were emotionally damaged but she gave enough information to allow the reader to understand why the characters were as screwed up as they were.

    I tried the first book in this series though– Black Ice (?) and kept flashing back on romantic suspense from the 70′s and 60′s. American girl working in a office in France who gets emotionally blackmailed into taking a “friend’s” place in a job in a remote sinister chateau where she meets morally ambiguous characters including a threatening man that she finds herself attracted to despite her fears and a seemingly nice guy– well it was a gothic cliche that the nice guy was never the hero. I quit reading at the point that the heroine was asleep (drugged?) and the hero is checking her out physically.

    To me at that point her heroine– unlike previous heroines who were (as I said)emotionally damaged but still proactive– reached a state of passiveness that left me uninterested in the woman’s future or the conclusion of the book.

    As far as Stuart’s failure to make her hero in this book more ethnic Japanese– check out her Australian journalist hero in The Widow, who aside from an occasional vaguely Australian phrase, I think he called his mother “me old mum”, had the speech patterns of the US Midwest.

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  30. Robin
    May 03, 2008 @ 20:20:12

    Are you sure you liked Cold as Ice (Peter and Genevieve's book) better than I did? I gave it a B+. Or are you thinking of the last book, Ice Storm, with Isobel and Serafin?

    Oh, yeah, that’s right. Under the best of circumstances I can’t remember the names, but I’m trying to finish up a huge work project this weekend, and am even more brain dead than usual.

    You know, I’m noticing with this book how much use Stuart makes of showers, baths, pools, and hot tubs in her books.

    As for Isobel, I guess I didn’t see Isobel as any less competent than any of the rest of the Committee, except for Bastien (wasn’t he the only one who knew who Killian *really* was?), who as far as I’m concerned was the only real bad ass among them, outside of Taka *at the beginning* of Ice Blue. What cracked me up a little bit was the thought Reno has at the beginning of Fire and Ice that the Committee are “do gooders,” because it seemed like all the moral ambiguity was gone, and the Committee completed its transformation into some version of the Fantastic Four, but with no interesting super powers.

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  31. Janine
    May 03, 2008 @ 21:51:34

    I really liked Stuart's contemporaries for Onyx years back. The heroes were over the top alpha, the heroines were emotionally damaged but she gave enough information to allow the reader to understand why the characters were as screwed up as they were.

    If you are referring to Nightfall, Moonrise and Ritual Sins, I liked the dark energy those books had, and I found them compulsively readable, but on the level of romance, they did not work as well for me as her more recent books do, because in Nightfall, Moonrise, and Ritual Sins, the heroes were so morally twisted that I had trouble understanding why the heroines, no matter how emotionally damaged, would choose spend any time in their company.

    In the Ice books, I can see that better. The heroes seem more vulnerable, and they often save the heroines’ lives or protect them, so the heroines’ choices are more understandable.

    I tried the first book in this series though- Black Ice (?) and kept flashing back on romantic suspense from the 70's and 60's. American girl working in a office in France who gets emotionally blackmailed into taking a “friend's” place in a job in a remote sinister chateau where she meets morally ambiguous characters including a threatening man that she finds herself attracted to despite her fears and a seemingly nice guy- well it was a gothic cliche that the nice guy was never the hero. I quit reading at the point that the heroine was asleep (drugged?) and the hero is checking her out physically.

    To me at that point her heroine- unlike previous heroines who were (as I said)emotionally damaged but still proactive- reached a state of passiveness that left me uninterested in the woman's future or the conclusion of the book.

    I was pretty frustrated with Black Ice at that point in the book too, but I persisted in reading it because I had read a spoiler about a plot turn that really intrigued me. And I am so glad I did, because it ended up being a keeper for me — I have read that book at least six or seven times now. It’s by far my favorite of all the Stuart books I have tried.

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  32. Janine
    May 03, 2008 @ 22:03:10

    You know, I'm noticing with this book how much use Stuart makes of showers, baths, pools, and hot tubs in her books.

    LOL. I think water can be really sexy so I like her use of it. There is a great pool scene in one of her old categories, a book called Rafe’s Revenge.

    As for Isobel, I guess I didn't see Isobel as any less competent than any of the rest of the Committee, except for Bastien (wasn't he the only one who knew who Killian *really* was?), who as far as I'm concerned was the only real bad ass among them, outside of Taka *at the beginning* of Ice Blue.

    I agree that Sebastien was the most competent and ruthelss, and Taka at the beginning of Ice Blue second most. But I think even Peter and Reno are far, far more competent and ruthless than Isobel.

    For one thing, they all killed without compunction, whereas Isobel couldn’t kill without being shaken by it.

    For another, they all, except possibly Reno, used sex as part of their job. Isobel could not seem to have decent sex even in her private life (except with Serafin) much less in her professional life. Peter even cheated on his wife had sex with men as part of his job, despite the fact that he was heterosexual. Do you think Isobel ever had sex with a woman?

    How are we supposed to believe that she was a Committe operative under Harry Thomason, who ordered Bastien to kill innocent bystanders and Peter to have sex with men while he was married?

    I enjoyed Ice Storm for the dialogue, the tension, the lean description, and the side characters but the double standard in the way Isobel was portrayed makes it probably my least favorite book in this series.

    What cracked me up a little bit was the thought Reno has at the beginning of Fire and Ice that the Committee are “do gooders,” because it seemed like all the moral ambiguity was gone, and the Committee completed its transformation into some version of the Fantastic Four, but with no interesting super powers.

    LOL! Too true. I loved the moral darkness of the Committe in Black Ice and I would have loved it had it stayed that murky.

    ReplyReply

  33. flip
    May 04, 2008 @ 16:49:00

    I love Stuart. Some of my favorites are her historicals. A Rose at Midnight is one of my all time favorites. It has one of my all time favorite opening scenes, the heroine is poisoning the hero. But her categories are really, really good. I love the above mentioned Museum Piece. Love the scene where the heroine realizes that she sent the wrong letter to the hero. She hasn’t done any paranormals lately, but she writes really good paranormals. In Special Gifts, the heroine is psychic. It is great with a twist. When I read Nightfall, I was blown away. The hero was such an antihero. The plot twist had me fooled.

    ReplyReply

  34. Janine
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:36:54

    I was checking Stuart’s website today and I see that “Married to It,” her free story about Reno and Jilly’s first meeting, is now available for download. You can find it here.

    ReplyReply

  35. » Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart | Shameless Reading Romance Blog
    May 12, 2008 @ 12:45:10

    [...] Author B-review Book Binge 4/5 review Books n’ Chocolate 5/5 [...]

  36. » May 2008 Romantic Suspense | Shameless Reading Romance Blog
    May 16, 2008 @ 17:06:01

    [...] Reviews: Innocent as Sin @ Running With Quills | annathepiper Scream for Me @ All About Romance Fire and Ice @ Dear Author [...]

  37. REVIEW: Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Jun 14, 2008 @ 12:01:05

    [...] provides an excellent plot synopsis of Fire and Ice here. That leaves me free for the kvetching. My main problem with this book was how repetitive it felt. [...]

  38. Laura
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 08:36:05

    @Jesbelle:

    Don’t I know it. Inner nerd rant too, when I friend told me about this I almost didn’t believe her description of the character. But apparently there’s a page in the book that actually credits it, if I remember correctly. Dunno how she got it through though, ha.

    ReplyReply

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