Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: The Collectors, #2
Length: 281 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: December 2, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors’ games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.
Samantha Crowe’s secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker’s could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John’s crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham. This time, however, the Collectors—a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective—might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.
One thing’s for sure: if either hopes to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust—and their growing attraction—in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.
So far, the Collectors series is turning out to be the love child of every historical conspiracy treasure hunt series that has ever been written. If the first book in the series, Lovely, Dark and Deep (reviewed here) is a cross between National Treasure and Titanic, then Deadly, Calm and Cold is the product of mixing The DaVinci Code with Indiana Jones. In other words, we have a treasure hunt for a historic artifact with nasty people on the tail (or trail) of our heroes.
The big difference is that all those other fictional treasure hunters are in it for the glory, or the thrill of discovery. At any rate, they volunteered. In the Collectors series, that is far from the case.
The evil baddies in the Collectors series are those collectors. They are a group of very rich and extremely self-indulgent, self-centered private collectors who will stop at nothing to add rare and priceless artifacts to their private collections. They are certainly not above a bit of blackmail, or even outright murder, to coerce experts into finding the prizes they seek. For the C7, it’s all just a big game. They get their thrills by grinding people into dust and beating their competition (the other C7 members) to whatever big prize is in their sights.
In Deadly, Calm and Cold, the big prize is King John’s lost crown jewels. Yes, I mean that King John, the one in the Robin Hood stories. Historically, he was the signer of the Magna Carta, because he was a despotic ruler even for those times. His nobles made him sign the “Great Charter” to protect themselves from his excesses. King John also really did lose his crown jewels in the area portrayed in the book, the east coast of England where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire.
Just as in Lovely, Dark and Deep, our story features a woman who is a technical expert on the subject at hand, and a man who finds himself in the middle of her search, but is hiding somewhere off the beaten path for reasons of his own.
Samantha Crowe is a graduate student in history, on a one-term research fellowship in England to delve into the history of King John’s lost treasure. She is also vulnerable to blackmail for some less-than-noble dealings both before and after college. She has a juvenile record, for stealing to support her addict-mother. While her motives were kind of good and kind of enabling, what happened is understandable. But it isn’t info that she disclosed to her university. Neither is her method of getting that research fellowship – her professor pulled strings to give it to her as a way of getting her out of the country and keeping her quiet about their now-over affair. She thought it might be love, he was just cheating on his unsuspecting wife with his equally unsuspecting grad student.
But sending dirty pictures to the student newspaper will pretty much kill both their careers. Or certainly hers. When the C7 member decides that the treasure she is researching is worth his time, she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. It doesn’t matter that the pictures are photoshopped – by the time any investigation figures that out, the damage will be done.
Brody Parker gets dragged into hunt because his house is part of the land where John’s treasure might be hidden – and because he has secrets of his own. Brody Parker isn’t even his real name – he’s in witness protection as a whistleblower in a major U.S. racketeering case. He’s spent years being paranoid that the mob really will track him down. C7 thinks he’s the perfect person to blackmail, but the same tech skills that brought down a big piece of organized crime make him the perfect person to help Sam turn the tables on the mysterious C7.
It helps that the C7 is facing a whistleblower of their very own. While the “big boss” is hard to find, the guy who is playing both ends against the middle is forced to the conclusion that helping Sam and Brody get out from under is his best chance of a new life.
In the adrenaline fueled treasure hunt, Sam and Brody discover that their best chance of a new life is with each other – if they survive.
Escape Rating B+: If this series continues to follow the pattern set in the first two books, it’s a winner. The woman is the expert, and while the man is the muscle, he never forgets that they are partners – he doesn’t take over everything including her. Brody, just as Shane did in Lovely, Dark and Deep, has secrets of his own that make him a perfect foil for Sam.
Both Sam and Brody, like Gillian and Shane before them, have a lot of damage that requires the other to help them heal. The way that they start out, equally attracted but equally untrusting, gives them a difficult road to travel towards each other, but makes their love story fit the adventure.
I loved that the treasure was real – there is even a nod to the discovery of Richard III’s body and how medieval treasure can still be found. The nods to actual historical events grounded the story in a way that some of the antecedents like The DaVinci Code are not, fun as they are.
In many ways, the villains of the series, those C7 Collectors, come off as a bit too “bwahaha” evil. Providing Sam and Brody with the more mundane double-crosser to negotiate with brought that mysterious band of evildoers down to earth.
For a good time with a heart-pounding adventure that has a rocky romance at its center, add The Collectors to your collection. (Sorry, that pun was irresistible, and so is the series!)
Susannah is giving away 1 $50 Amazon Gift Card and 3 $15 Amazon Gift Cards to lucky commenters on this tour. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below: