Fire and Ice is the fifth and final installment in Anne Stuart’s ICE chronicles. But it’s only the end for now or so the author’s webpage says. And I just have to say, “Please don’t let this be the end!” I love this series the same way that a fevered pre-teen loves Orlando Bloom and Jonny Depp in pirate gear. I love this series the way chocoholics love Godiva. I love this series the way a crazy old cat lady loves cats. Yeah, it’s a lot.
You’ve got to be wondering why I’m ranting lovely about this particular romantic suspense series. It’s just because it’s awesome. I started out with Ice Storm, the fourth book, and worked my way back. They just got better and better the more I read and I swore from Ice Storm on that I was a fan and that hasn’t changed. For me Fire and Ice has only sealed the deal and I’m not going to give up hope of there being a sixth book.
Fire and Ice centers around one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Reno, Taka’s cousin, was introduced in previous books as the punk heir to a Yakuza empire in Tokyo. Sent away from Japan by his Grandfather he’s been working for the mysterious Committee made up of a group of assassins who have their base in England. Reno’s been enjoying life in London until he learns that Jilly, Taka’s sister-in-law, has gone to Tokyo to visit her sister Summer. Usually it wouldn’t matter but Taka and Summer have been forced into hiding due to Russian mercenaries and Jilly’s in danger.
For Reno it’s a matter of family honor to go home and find Jilly before the Russians do. But it isn’t only family honor that drives him. Two years ago he’d met Jilly and been warned by both Taka and Summer that she was off limits. But Reno hadn’t been able to forget about her and Jilly definitely hadn’t forgotten about him.
Jilly, running from her first failed love affair, is determined to lose herself in the culture and history of Japan. Of course it doesn’t hurt that her sister will be there to comfort her and there’s always the possibility that she’d run into Reno. If Jilly would just admit it to herself Reno is the whole reason she’s decided to travel to Japan. But when Jilly arrives no one is there to greet her and exhausted from her flight she decides she’ll just wait until her sister and Taka come home.
In the middle of the night the house is attacked by the Russians and Jilly realizes that she's landed in something nasty. But Reno is there to save the day and in no time he’s whisked her away. From then on it’s a crazy fast-paced ride through the streets of Tokyo as the two try to figure out what’s going on. Simultaneously drawn to each other as well as repelled the two press each other’s buttons and Reno tries desperately to keep the hands-off promise to his cousin.
In a mix of Russian mercenaries, Yakuza thugs, and dangerous assassins, Jilly comes to realize that her adolescent crush has become something much more. And Reno, the man who claims that he doesn’t believe in love, realizes that some things are just worth fighting for. Corny? Probably, but so damn good it just puts a smile on your face.
I’m not claiming that this one is perfect, or that it’s the best of the series, but it’s still Anne Stuart and she’s pretty darn good no matter what. Jilly was a little immature, but she’s 20 and her actions fit her age perfectly. She’s super smart and way ahead of the curve except for when it comes to relationships with other people, men especially. Some of the scenes are over the top, particularly toward the end, but that’s another reason I love the series. Its pure escapism and no one does it better than Anne Stuart.