The second book in the Sea Haven / Sisters Of The Heart series, published December 2011.
Lethal undercover agent Stefan Prakenskii knows a thousand ways to kill a man – and twice as many ways to pleasure a woman. That’s why he’s looking forward to his new mission. He must go to the coastal town of Sea Haven and insinuate himself into the life of an elusive beauty who has mysterious ties to his past and a link to a dangerously seductive and equally elusive master criminal who wants only one thing: to possess her.
Judith Henderson is an artist on the rise, an ethereal and haunted woman whose own picture-perfect beauty stirs the souls o two men who have made her their obsession. For years she has been waiting for someone to come and unlock the passion and fire within her – waiting for the right man to surrender it to. But only one man can survive her secrets and the shadow she has cast over both their lives.
Wow, another blurb that makes totally no sense when you have read the book.
Stefan Prakenskii is loyal to his country, Russia, even though he has been used as an assassin his whole life. His parents were killed, and he and his six brothers taken to different training camps, to become lethal weapons. Only the toughest survived. And of course, having psychic talents came in handy as well. But he can kill with his bare hands and with all kinds of weapons. He is a ghost, not seen until he wants to be seen, making use of the shadows whenever he can.
His mission: to recover a stolen micro chip with sensitive information about the training camps, and the children taken for it. His boss, Solovyov, will be destroyed if that information ever becomes public knowledge. When the micro chip was stolen, Stefan’s brother Gavriil was seriously wounded. And in their line of business, there is no such thing as retirement. They know too much. But Stefan helped his brother escape the hospital, and Gavriil is somewhere safe. Stefan followed the trail of the microchip to a master criminal, currently imprisoned in France. Jean-Claude La Roux is not happy with his new cell mate, but whomever he sends after Stefan, he survives. La Roux is obsesses with some woman, his cell is plastered with pictures from her. And he won’t talk to Stefan, about anything, so their only chance will be to free him from prison, pick him up, and interrogate him. After two months in this stinking jail, Stefan has had enough.
But something is fishy, when his next orders are not to capture La Roux and interrogate him, but to go to Sea Haven, where the mysterious woman in the pictures lives. Also the place where his brother Lev is hiding. He is presumed death after the explosion of the yacht he was working on, but apparently, Solovyov does not believe that. Stefan has no intention whatsoever to lead Solovyovs pet killer Ivanov to his brother, only to be killed, and then killed himself. For some reason he has gotten on the termination list with his brother. Doesn’t Solovyov know it is not in their best interest if the secrets on that disk ever get public?
Stefan sets himself up in one of the covers he has spend years perfecting: the rich business man Thomas Vincent. He wants to buy the gallery in Sea Haven, and use it to come into contact with Judith, the lady Jean-Claude is obsessed with. It will give him the perfect cover to search for the killer, and for his brother. Stefan has shut his emotions out of his life ever since childhood, when crying only got you punished harder. So when he finally meets Judith, he has no idea he still has those emotions. He is blown away. Somehow, her psychic power connects to his, blending perfectly, empowering him. He just knows this is the woman for him. And while he has never before thought about retiring, know he wishes his cover were true. He wants to protect Judith from Jean-Claude, and all the other danger that surrounds himself.
Judith was just a young art student, having the time of her life in Paris, when she met the debonair and handsome Jean-Claude La Roux. She had no idea he was a criminal, until she almost walked in on a torture scene. She ran away, and called her brother Paul to help her escape. They fled all over Europe, until they were found in Greece. Jean-Claude’s henchmen tortured her brother, wanting him to tell her hidingplace, Jean-Claude wanted her back! And the microchip she had unknowingly taken with her. He was arrested and sentenced to prison for weapon smuggling, but never for murder and the myriad other crimes he has committed. Judith still feels guilty for her brother being tortured and murdered because of her, and the aftermath of that, which was caused by her. Judith is a spirit elemental, and what ever strong feelings she is experiencing, are broadcasted around her. So her grief and deathwish caused a young police officer to commit suicide in front of her.
Now, 5 years later, she thinks she is safe. Judith has met some amazing women, all in the same circumstances, all with incredible powers. Together, they have built a new life in Sea Haven. Judith is happy with her art, her paintings and kaleidoscopes. She still grieves about her beloved brother, and feels guilty for not avenging his death. Every dark thought and wish she has, she has buried in dark paintings and artwork, hidden and locked away in a second atelier. Judith and feels safe knowing Jean-Claude is in prison for a long time. She doesn’t know someone has been taking pictures of her for years.
And when she meets Thomas Vincent, the attraction is immense. She doesn’t even know who is thinking what toughts; they are kind of merged together. Does she amplify his thoughts, or is he feeling what she is feeling and projecting? She is weary of the attraction, it happened just as fast with Jean-Claude. But Stefan/Thomas is not taking no for an answer, he knows exactly how to play a woman, inside the bed or out, and he is determined to make Judith his. So now he has three important goals: keep Judith safe, find and keep his brother safe, and retrieve the microchip as this is important to his country. When he finds out his brother is actually married, he is angry. You don’t marry your cover and deceive an innocent woman like that! Until he sees for himself, how very much in love his brother is, and he wants that for himself as well.
I loved this book, as I love most everything Christine Feehan writes. The feelings just leap of the page, the suspense and intrigue is very well written and thought out, no loose ends as far as I can discover. If you love a tortured hero, Stefan sure qualifies. Tortured as a child, to be able to endure being tortured by the enemy, pushed to become stronger and faster and smarter than all the others in training, fiercely loyal to his country, and the few people he loves. Stefan is astonished with the discovery he still has feelings, and has no idea how to handle being in a relationship with Judith. He makes some big mistakes, but he knows how to make up for it as well.
I also like Judith. She has been trough a lot, losing her parents, and later her brother. Blaming herself. She loves her art, and is an astonishing artist. But she can never let her true feelings show, she needs to be calm and in control, even around her beloved sisters/friends. She acts as a booster for their powers, weaving them all together in a lovely harmony. She longs for a family and children of her own, and knows she can never have them, never become close to someone. But somehow, Stefan/Thomas absorbs her powers, he can control them for her, making her able to feel, and not be afraid of her feelings. She falls hard for him, but how can she put her sisters at risk? She can feel he is hiding things from her. And even though the sex between them is great, dare she risk her heart again? She knows this time she will not recover …
The paranormal aspects in this story are amazing, especially in the end. I loved it. A tiny little bit more is revealed about the other sisters, and I am very curious about their stories. Nikki and Levi are great together, and it was good meeting them again. Their book, Water Bound, was truly amazing. Also Jonas, the sheriff, and his new deputy, Aleksandr Volstov, make a few appearances. The hunt for the psychopathic killer was very exciting, and certainly original. This book is filled with great characters, great secondary characters, most from previous books. It is fast paced, great suspense and plot, and the many love scenes are very hot. If you haven’t tried any Christine Feehan yet, please try this series, or perhaps the Seven Sisters books first, as those are a spinoff.
I love it, and I am looking forward to the next book already.