Type: Romantic Suspense
My Copy: NetGalley
Evangeline Morrissey remembers the last time she saw her husband: it was during their honeymoon, right before he stole her grandmother’s earrings and abandoned her. Now, five years later, the enigmatic man who’d broken her heart and destroyed her trust is back. But she’s not the same naive young woman who fell for him so easily.
Marrying Evangeline and letting her think he was nothing but a common thief had been James Bishop’s plan all along. As an assassin for the Committee, a covert agency dedicated to stamping out international crime, he had no business even thinking about marriage. But it was the only way to protect Evangeline after she’d unwittingly wandered into his operation against a group of human traffickers, placing herself in grave danger. And now that James’s vigilant watch over Evangeline’s life has revealed to his enemies that she’s his one true weakness, he must set out to have, to hold, and—above all—to protect his bride.
Oh Anne Stuart, how I have missed you. Normally a fan of the warm-fuzzies type of happily ever after, there’s just something about these ice cold gamma heroes that really gets to me. This book is high on action and suspense (and sex!) and pretty low on romance, but there’s something so addicting about it!
James Bishop is an agent for the Committee – an anti-terrorist and international crime-fighting agency that works off the grid to rid the world of bad guys. The Committee takes on tasks that above-board agencies can’t or won’t, and the men (and women) involved with it are dangerous with a capital “D”. James is on assignment in Italy to take out a key figure in an international crime family when Evangeline unknowingly walks in immediately after the hit. His partner, an unscrupulous and callous female agent, insists they need to kill Evangeline to keep her quiet. Unsure of how much she has seen or heard – or figured out – James isn’t quite as trigger-happy. While he’s no stranger to killing, he tries to keep collateral damage to a minimum and sets out to find out just how much Evangeline knows.
Evangeline was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. A college professor studying abroad, she stumbles upon James and his partner inside an old church where she stops to rest. She has no idea who they are or what they’ve just done, but they don’t know that. James sets out to charm any information she has out of her, and poor Evangeline is caught like a deer in the headlights. She senses something dark and mysterious about him, but she is just naïve enough, and just dazzled enough, to be seduced. After a whirlwind romance, James realizes she truly is an innocent, and he draws the line at harming her. Keeping up the pretense, he convinces Evangeline to marry him, knowing it is the only way he can keep her safe. His partner is gunning for her, but under the Committee’s rules, a spouse is off-limits. There is no room for a wife or family in his line of work, though, and James has no intention of sticking around.
Five years later, Evangeline has convinced herself she is finally over James’ betrayal. Devastated when he deserted her, she has uprooted herself and forged a new life in a new town. She promises herself daily that she is no longer the starry-eyed romantic who fell for James hook, line and sinker. Older, wiser, and a lot more hard-hearted, Evangeline is content in her lonely existence. What she doesn’t know is that James has kept watch – from afar – over her ever since he left her. And despite the measures he’s taken over the years to keep her safe, he’s forced to re-enter her life when danger comes knocking on her door.
James was a typical Anne Stuart anti-hero: cold, calculated, seemingly unfeeling but inexplicably drawn to one woman. Evangeline’s goodness and innocence took root inside of him and he was unable to completely walk away. Evangeline – his “Angel” – was a woman that he shouldn’t want and the one woman he couldn’t forget. This connection he had with her, bordering on obsession, was the one thing that kept him from being the complete bastard that he came across as.
Evangeline was powerless to resist James five years ago, and she despises herself for being unable to resist him once again. There’s something about him that touches a part of her that she tried to keep closed off. She’s powerless to resist the lure of James Bishop, despite the fact that he lied to her and used sex to bind her to him. The connection they have, and the combustible sexual chemistry between them, refuse to stay buried even after so many years apart.
I first fell in love with Anne Stuart’s writing when I discovered the Ice series, and this book, the first in the Fire series, is very reminiscent of those books. Her heroines seem like normal women, the men are stone cold but oh so hot, and the action is intense. I thoroughly enjoyed being drawn back into her world of intrigue, and this book reminded me of how much I can like a bad guy hero.
I give Consumed by Fire by Anne Stuart 4 stars!