Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
  Ice Blue
Ice Blue by Anne Stuart
  by Anne Stuart
   5 Hearts   
Hard driving romance and suspense to the N-th degree
Publisher: Mira (April 2007)
Ice Blue is a hard driving suspense and romance set in the midst of a global power struggle against the catastrophic plans of delusional religious cult leader surrounded by New Age enthusiasts and the best scientific minds the Cold War could provide. A professional Japanese operative is ordered to obtain an art relic and then kill his hostage but surprising twists and unfolding details repeatedly derail the completion of those orders. Romantic suspense fills every scene of Ice Blue to the N-th degree!

Museum curator and Asian art scholar Summer Hawthorne treasures the blue ceramic bowl as a gift from her beloved Japanese nanny. Summer values her childhood memories of eating cookies from it over its current high monetary value. When her quirky mother Lianne joins The True Realization Fellowship, a Japanese religious cult headed by the albino Shirosama, Summer knows that if her mother had her way, her beloved bowl will be only one more family heirloom that increases the coffers of this strange cult.

When Takashi O'Brien ("Taka") saves Summer from Shirosama's followers and a certain death, she does not know whether to trust him or fear him. He may have temporarily saved the bowl from the True Realization but only so that he could take it. If the look in his eyes did not scare her, his tattoo does. Taka belongs to the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia). She has already seen him kill more than once to achieve his objective and his plans for her are no secret. Even more disturbing is the use to which this bowl will be put once possession is attained. The macabre and delusional visions of his Holiness Shirosama are far more deadly than the sarin gas attacks of the Tokyo subways by the Aum Shinrikyo cult and or the Jonestown mass suicide "The People's Temple" led by the Reverend Jim Jones.

The reader knows every cruel thought and mission detail as it unfolds --- and still the page-turning suspense builds until the very last line. Despite her hostage situation, Summer is an unusual heroine-victim --- weak, strong, intelligent, feminine, bruised from the past endowed with a quirky sense of humor. The unusual pairing of the family rejected half-breed Yakuza operative and the sensitive museum curator who thinks of herself as unattractive electrifies the suspense. The romance is hard, somewhat cruel yet soul-healing and even tender at moments, but most of all unforgettable. The family relationships of the main characters and the secondary characters are complex and deepen the psychological motivations and histories of Taka and Summer. Ice Blue will sear these two characters and their struggle into the reader's memory long after the book is closed.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews

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