|On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart|
Elizabeth Pennington has come to the war-torn South American country of Callivera to volunteer at a tiny mission. Kidnapped by the local rebels who are more interested in ransom than politics, she ends up at their camp in the Andes where she meets Finn MacGowan, member of the infamous Committee, a covert organization dedicated to destroying terrorism. MacGowan has been held hostage for almost three years, and he's chosen the night she arrives as the night he plans to escape. When he does, she follows him, heading down the steep mountainous terrain with another hostage, the teenage son of a Hollywood millionaire. Rebels, soldiers, traitors and near-drowning follows them on their journey. As they travel from the mountain fortress to a transatlantic freighter, an old cafe in Spain ending in a shootout at a farmhouse in France, MacGowan reluctantly falls in love, and Beth learns that the cynical, dangerous soldier-of-fortune might be worth saving after all.
I first read Black Ice (Ice #1) for the TBR Challenge this month, but having had some pretty mixed feelings about that book decided to read and review another book by Anne Stuart that I had waiting in my Kindle, the last book of the same series, On Thin Ice (Ice #6). It was a great move on my part. On Thin Ice has all the elements that I really enjoyed about Black Ice, the thriller non-stop action with a male character who has all the skills to survive in a dangerous environment, and a plot full of violent danger and twists and turns, where the differences between the villains and good guys are not always clear to the reader. However what's different in On Thin Ice is the romance and the fact that the male and female protagonists turn out to be likable, and our female character doesn't immediately fall for the "hero," although of course she does fall for him.
Both Finn MacGowan and Elizabeth Pennington have been kidnapped by the Guiding Light in the fictionalized South American country of Callivera. Elizabeth arrives on the camp, where MacGowan has been held for three years, and that same night they escape along with sixteen year-old Dylan and another captive. Once they're on the run the action doesn't really stop until the end of the story as they are pursued by the members of the Guiding Light through the mountains, and later on by CIA agents. MacGowan is running towards revenge against anti-terrorist organization members of the Committee whom he believes let him rot as a captive for three years, and Elizabeth rightfully believes she can only survive by sticking with him.
Throughout the dangerous escape, Finn and Beth develop and maintain a dialog that is both entertaining and sexy. Finn wants Beth, at first because he spent three whole years without a woman (this becomes an ongoing joke between them), and slowly because he truly falls in love with her, but Finn's failed Irish charm and the way he goes about turning Beth around to his way of thinking is the best part of their romance. I love Finn's character and the fact that he is ruthless but caring and tender with Beth, and that he uses his ruthlessness to fight his own needs in order to protect Beth from himself.
On the other hand, Beth hates sex and doesn't understand why she's attracted to cynical Finn, a man who kills for a living, and convinces herself that her conflicting emotions surfaced as a result of Finn saving her life more than once. Beth is rather stubborn and frustratingly straight at times, but I like that she gives as good as she gets from Finn, and that she doesn't roll over for him or is intimidated just because she is dependent on him for survival.
Characters from other Ice novels make appearances as secondary characters. Peter Madsen plays a big role, while others play small roles. This is the last of the Ice novels, so it serves as sort of an epilogue novel with babies and happy ever afters for some of the Committee agents, but they don't take page time away from the main couple. The climactic scene is actually anticlimactic and not as good as the action that takes place up to that point in the novel, and the romance between Finn and Beth ends with a really good line that is "very much Finn," but it is a rather abrupt ending for my taste.
These two novels, Black Ice and On Thin Ice, are my first reads by Anne Stuart. Black Ice is super exciting when it comes to the thrilling action, but for me the "romance" is questionable and did not work. However, I'm glad that I read it first and picked up On Thin Ice which turned out to be a well balanced thrilling romance suspense with likable central characters. I will probably give some of the other Ice novels a try to see if they work for me.
|Theme: PNR/Romantic Suspense|
Series: Ice Series
Release Date: September 15, 2011
Visit Anne Stuart here.
Black Ice, #1
Cold as Ice, #2
Ice Blue, #3
Ice Storm, #4
Fire and Ice, #5
On Thin Ice, #6