Thief. Manipulator. Con artist. Call it what you will—Bianca St. Ives is the best in the business.
Growing up, Bianca St. Ives knew she was different from all her friends. Instead of playing hopscotch or combing her dolls’ hair, she studied martial arts with sensei masters and dismantled explosives with special-ops retirees. Her father prepped her well to carry on the family business. Now a striking beauty with fierce skills, the prodigy has surpassed the master.
She’s known as the Guardian. Running a multinational firm with her father, she makes a living swindling con men out of money they stole—and she’s damn good at it. She does things on her own terms. But her latest gig had a little hiccup—if you count two hundred million dollars and top secret government documents going missing as little. Her father also died on the mission. The thing is, the US government doesn’t believe he’s really dead. They’ll stop at nothing to capture Richard St. Ives, a high-value target and someone who has been on most-wanted lists all over the world for over two decades, and they mean to use Bianca as bait. With only a fellow criminal for backup and her life on the line, it’s up to Bianca to uncover the terrifying truth behind what really happened…and set it right, before it’s too late.
Action-packed from the start
Wow. This story wasn’t what I was expecting at all but in no way is that indicative of a bad thing. In fact, not expecting something opens up the opportunity to discover a really great story which is the case here. Before I go further I should mention that Karen Robards is one of my favorite authors; she writes engaging romantic suspense books and every time she has a new book out it’s almost guaranteed to be an auto-read …except for this book. I remember seeing it released and for whatever reasons I wasn’t keen on reading it right away. Perhaps because the storyline sounded different from her typical books or the protagonist didn’t appeal, whatever it was the book didn’t emerge as a must read right now. Now having read it, I can appreciate Robards’ books even more and see how diverse her storytelling can be.
Bianca St. Ives, the driving force behind The Ultimatum, pretty much has every quality you would want from an every day super-woman (think female James Bond). She’s intelligent, fierce, adaptable, resourceful, compassionate and not afraid to use her looks to gain her an advantage. The ideal femme fatale. She’s a force to be reckoned with and it was extremely fun getting caught up in sticky situations and fighting her foes alongside her. Her story is unique in the sense that although she’s serving her own form of justice, she’s doing so from the wrong side of it (aka con thief and liar, at least when she needs to be). What I really appreciated about her character is that she was capable of achieving her goals on her own without the need of a strong male counterpart.
The romantic element in this story is limited compared to her usual books but it didn’t feel lacking. In fact the tension between her and Colin “Mickey” felt enough and it would be interesting to see how it develops in future books. Even though he takes a back story it was refreshing to see that he does present a challenge to Bianca which keeps their interactions dynamic.
Despite being a super woman in her own right, Bianca does have a vulnerable side which is something I tend to look for in characters because it allows me a better “feel” for the character. There are instances where her vulnerabilities shows but it balances out her strengths.
This was action-packed from beginning to end with travels to exotic locations and interesting characters throughout. If a strong heroine is what you’re looking for this is a great story. I’m already looking forward to the next book!
Do you have any favorite strong heroines?