It's second-chance romance, Anne Stuart style!I'll come right out and say it, I thought I wouldn't like this one. I almost skipped it, thinking I'll maybe come back to it sometime in the future. What a mistake that would have been.It's just as gripping and action-packed as the first three books. It does have a slightly different format, with flashbacks and present, but once I got used to it it was great.It follows a character you know very well by now, Madame Lambert. Except, for how much you've been in her head in the previous two books, you might as well have skimmed her parts, because in the end everything you think you know about her is wrong.I thought she was in her late forties, early fifties, a sophisticated French woman with an air of superiority and indifference to her. And that's exactly what she wanted you to believe. Seriously, great writing. Was it planned? Did the author just spin it to work in her favor? It doesn't matter because it works.I liked Isobel. She's the Ice Queen, cool and calm and collected, pulling every string and keeping up appearances of cool indifference. I'll admit I thought I wouldn't have cared for her. But in the end she turns out to be such a great heroine.The story goes back eighteen years and shows you a much younger Mary Isobel falling in love with a fellow American student who ends up betraying her in the worst way possible.Chaos, lust, confusion. His job here was done.Killian Killian Killian. I really can't say as much as I want to about him without spoiling anything. Yes, he's just as ruthless, a mercenary with no scruples, a manipulative monster, pretty much everything I'm used to the heroes in these books being. I thought he was an asshole and a jerk and just about any other demeaning adjective out there. At times I thought he was a sweet jerk. But jerk nonetheless. This is the first time that the hero blatantly uses the heroine for his own pleasure, just because he knows he can. I hated him. But I loved him. Call me crazy.However, there's more to Serafin the Butcher than meets the eye. While he is a typical hero for this series, there was something kind about him. He has this weird affectionate fascination with Isobel. He never insults her in his head as I'm used to. He doesn't want revenge for how she left him to die all those years ago, even though he gets enough opportunities for it. I kept thinking, what in the world is going on? And I had my suspicions. I even came very close. But I was still wrong. You will LOVE the twist.I thought maybe Isobel, being an operative herself, would be less of a damsel in distress. Yeah, she was, but not too much. The power keeps shifting from Isobel to Killian and back, but he is still the one that takes care of her most of the time. I thought present day Isobel and Killian had awesome chemistry. The two people from the flashbacks, not so much - probably because I felt they were rushed. They bicker constantly, it's a real love/hate relationship. Loved the romance here, even though it wasn't very romantic. They were a perfect match.I liked the plot, there's a mystery to it and it keeps you wondering. And I loved that the author keeps bringing back old characters.A couple of graphic sex scenes, yes. Do I even have to say this anymore? It's a habit of mine. You have been warned.Yes, Bastien shows up (and so do Peter and Reno). By now I'm pretty much resigned to how much I loved Bastien. When he showed up I welcomed him with open arms. It's crazy, but whatever. Just go with the flow, you can't fight Bastien. He completely stole every scene he was in, with his cool, detached efficiency, always consistent with the character you fell in love with in Black Ice.In conclusion, Black Ice is still my favorite of the series. But in Ice Storm you get another reader gripper that lives up to this wonderful, but crazy series. I keep giving these books five stars, it feels weird.Now, fifth book. It's Reno's story and I just know I'm in for a great ride.