Black Ice

Black Ice

4.3 73
by Anne Stuart
     
 

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Living paycheck to paycheck in Paris, American book translator Chloe Underwood would give anything for some excitement and passion--even a little danger. So when she's offered a lucrative weekend gig translating at a business conference in a remote château, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.

Then by chance Chloe discovers her employers are anything

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Overview

Living paycheck to paycheck in Paris, American book translator Chloe Underwood would give anything for some excitement and passion--even a little danger. So when she's offered a lucrative weekend gig translating at a business conference in a remote château, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.

Then by chance Chloe discovers her employers are anything but the entrepreneurs they appear, and suddenly she knows far too much. Her clients are illegal arms dealers, and one of them is ordered to kill her. But instead, Bastien Toussaint drags Chloe away, and the next thing she knows she's on the run with the most terrifying and seductive man she's ever met. What were his motives--and would she live long enough to find out?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This taut romantic suspense novel from RITA Award-winner Stuart (The Widow) delivers deliciously evil baddies and the type of disturbing male protagonist that only she can transform into a convincing love interest. Chloe Underwood, a 23-year-old American who regards herself as a disappointment to her high-achieving family, makes a meager living in Paris by translating children's books into English. After accepting a last-minute translating job in the French countryside, she discovers that rather than working for a consortium of food executives, she's stumbled upon a group of sadistic international arms dealers. Cold-blooded assassin Bastian Touissant, who was sent a year earlier by a nebulous "the ends justify the means" agency to infiltrate this shady group and try to stop its illegal activity, seems to blend right in. On meeting Chloe, Bastian isn't sure whether she's a spy, perhaps sent to kill him, or the innocent she appears to be. Despite his ruthlessness, Bastian can't resist saving Chloe's life (on multiple, graphic occasions) and attempting to send her back to her family in the U.S. Brilliant characterizations and a suitably moody ambience drive this dark tale of unlikely love. Agent, Jane Dystel. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778321712
Publisher:
Mira
Publication date:
05/01/2005
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.63(h) x 1.01(d)

Read an Excerpt

Black Ice


By Anne Stuart

MIRA

Copyright © 2005 Anne Stuart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0778321711

People might go on and on about springtime in Paris, Chloe Underwood thought as she walked down the street huddled in her coat, but there was really nothing to compare to winter in the City of Lights. By early December the leaves were gone, the air was crisp and cool and enough of the tourists had left to make life bearable. In August she always wondered why on earth she'd chosen to pull up stakes and move three thousand miles away from her family. But then winter came, and she remembered all too well.

It might have helped if she could have abandoned the city to the tourists every August, as all the French did, but she'd yet to find a job that included such luxuries as vacations, health care or a living wage. She was lucky she'd managed to find work at all. As it was, her presence in France was quasi-legal, and most days she decided just being there was blessing enough, even if she shared a tiny walk-up flat with a fellow expatriate who seemed to have very little sense of responsibility. Sylvia barely remembered to pay her half of the rent, she'd never swept a floor in her life and she considered any piece of furniture or flat surface a place to leave her astonishingly large wardrobe. On the other hand, she wore the same size eight that Chloe did, and she was not averse to sharing. She was also single-mindedly determined to marry a wealthy Frenchman, and in pursuit of that goal she spent most nights away from their cramped quarters, leaving Chloe with a little more breathing room.

In fact, it was Sylvia who'd found Chloe her current job translating children's books. Sylvia had worked at Les Freres Laurent for two years, and she'd slept with all three of the middle-aged freres, ensuring job tenure and a decent salary for translating spy novels and thrillers for the small publisher. Children's books were less of a moneymaker, and Chloe was paid accordingly, but at least she didn't have to ask her family for money or touch the trust fund her grandparents had left her. Not that her parents would encourage her. That money was earmarked for her education, and working a menial job in Paris hardly constituted advanced learning.

If she weren't hamstrung by job requirements she could have found something a bit more challenging. While her French was excellent, she was also fluent in Italian, Spanish and German, with a healthy smattering of Swedish and Russian, and even a few bits of Arabic and Japanese. She loved words, almost as much as she loved cooking, but she seemed to have a greater talent out of the kitchen. At least, that's what she'd been told when she was dismissed from the famous Cordon Bleu halfway into the program. Too much imagination for a beginner, they'd said. Not enough respect for tradition.

Chloe had never been particularly respectful of tradition, including her family tradition of medicine. She'd left all five of the Underwoods back in the mountains of North Carolina. Her parents were internists, her two older brothers were surgeons, and her older sister was an anesthesiologist. And they still couldn't believe Chloe wasn't dying to enter medical school, ignoring the fact that there was no one in this world more squeamish at the sight of blood than the youngest member of the Underwood family.

No, Chloe wasn't going to get to touch that nice little chunk of money until she gave in and went to medical school. And it was going to be a cold day in hell before she did.

In the meantime, she could do amazing things with pasta and fresh vegetables, and all the walking she did kept the carbohydrates from gathering in force, though they seemed to have developed a fondness for her rear. At twenty-three she couldn't still be built like a coltish teenager, and she was never going to look like a French-woman. She just lacked the style even her roommate Sylvia, an Englishwoman, had in abundance. She could wear Sylvia's clothes, but she never could master that faintly arrogant, slightly amused mien that she longed for. She might as well have a big butt, too.

Les Freres Laurent was on the third floor of an older building near Montmartre. Chloe was the first one in, as always, and she put on a pot of the strong coffee that she loved, cradling a cup in her chilled hands as she looked out into the busy street below. The brothers kept the heat off at night, and as a junior employee she wasn't allowed to touch the thermostat, so she'd learned to keep an extra sweater in the tiny cubicle she'd been allotted. She wasn't in the mood for working -- it was a gorgeous day, with the sky a bright azure above the old buildings that surrounded them, and for some reason the adventures of Flora the plucky little ferret didn't call to her. Not enough sex and violence, she thought wistfully. Just moral lessons in a heavy-handed lecture, given by a skinny rodent in a pink tutu and the smug values of an American Republican. Just once she wished Flora would yank off her tutu and jump the rascally weasel who'd been giving her the eye. But Flora would never stoop so low.

Chloe took a sip of her coffee. Strong as faith, sweet as love, black as sin. She wouldn't be a real Parisian until she started smoking, but even to annoy her parents she couldn't go that far. Besides, the farther away her parents were, the less annoying they became.

It was another hour before anyone else would arrive at the office, and she told herself that no one would know or care if she wasted a few precious minutes before turning to the boring Flora. It was no wonder she was so irritated with the fictional character. What she needed was a little more sex and violence in her own life.

Be careful what you wish for, a little voice murmured in her head, but Chloe shook it off, draining her coffee. Sex had been notable by its total absence for the past ten months, and her last affair was so lack-luster that she hadn't been energized enough to look for a replacement. It wasn't that Claude had been a bad lover. He prided himself on his skills, and expected the gauche Americain to be suitably dazzled. She wasn't.



Continues...

Excerpted from Black Ice by Anne Stuart Copyright © 2005 by Anne Stuart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author



Anne Stuart loves Japanese rock and roll, wearable art, Spike, her two kids, Clairefontaine paper, her springer spaniel Rosie, her delicious husband of over thirty years, fellow writers, her two cats, telling stories and living in Vermont. She's not too crazy about politics and diets and a winter that never ends, but then, life's always a trade-off.

For more information please check out Anne's Web site at www.anne-stuart.com.

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