Black Jack, the middle Blackthorn brother, is a secret operative for the crown, mainly handling their dirty jobs. This time he's assigned a mission that will test his believes and loyalties: find and eliminate his former mentor, Sinjon, who has run loose with some very dangerous secrets in hand. There's further complication in that Jack had an affair in the past with Sinjon's daughter, Tess, which ended abruptly after her brother's death. Tess is not your typical romance heroine: she has been trained in espinage & intelligence by her father, a master of the art. Their initial meeting is fraught with suspicion, distrust & desire. Can they overcome their differences and have the future they once hoped they could have together? Or will Jack obey his orders and kill her father, destroying what exists between them as well?
The premise I admit, sounded perfect to me: a dark, brooding hero, a fiesty heroine, a past that bounds them together and distrust along with opposing goals to keep them apart. Unfortunately, the story never took off. While the first 100 or pages were quite intriguing, my main problem is that Jack and Tess pretty much come to an understanding and HFN (=Happy For Now) at the end of those 120-150 pages and then the suspense and action took the lead seat for almost 50 pages before the ending. Had I expected this to be more in the lines of romantic suspense than romance per se, I wouldn't be so disappointed I believe. However, I did expect a more prominent romantic element and this one didn't deliver. Plus, Jack is supposed to be dark and brooding, the black sheep of the family; He simply wasn't. He was not lighthearted and funny like Puck, I'll give you that, but he wasn't particularly brooding either, more or less like Beau in the first book.
So lack of tension (after the beginning) between the leading characters, lack of humor, lack of angst and darkness, make this a very middle of the road and forgettable romance in the end. Though I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy The Taming of the Rake for its easygoing and slightly humorous style, I don't seem to enjoy Ms Michaels attempts at something darker; darkness more often than not, requires an edge, a palpable tension and taking risks with your heroes rather than having them act properly/kindly all the time and I don't see this author doing that (at least in her last two books). So, I think I'll stick with Anne Stuart, Elizabeth Hoyt, Lorraine Heath and Julia London when in need of something dark to read in the future.ARC provided by NetGalley