Soon after meeting an attractive, mysterious Englishman, an American woman learns that a society of assassins has targeted her lineage in this romantic-thriller debut.
Art teacher Ellie James spies a beefy, handsome stranger watching her in a crowd. Standing out in Ellie’s small Connecticut town, the man, Will Hastings, introduces himself when he sees her later. He also shows up at her house after she comes home to tragedy: her grandmother and older sister, Isobel, lying in a pool of blood. Ellie finds Isobel’s terrified 7-year-old daughter, Lissie, hiding, and once Will convinces her he’s there to help, they flee. Will explains that a group of British assassins called the Order is after Ellie’s bloodline—a family rife with secrets of which she was unaware. He further believes he can better protect Ellie in England, along with his equally brawny brothers and security team, the Six, each formerly of the British Armed Forces. Will wants Ellie with a bodyguard at all times, preferably himself, as the two can’t withhold their physical yearning for very long. But all that safeguarding doesn’t prevent the Order from making attempts on her life—or trying to draw her out in the open by aiming at someone she loves. Clare takes a curious approach to her engrossing story: the assassin plot primarily unfolds in the background, as narrator Ellie doesn’t witness much of the action. The focus is on romance, with Will and Ellie engaging in provocative and often vigorous sex, intensified by their strong emotional connection and history (he’s known about her for a while). Will’s machismo is a bit overdone: he grunts and growls and repeatedly threatens to kill anyone who touches Ellie, even his own brothers. Nevertheless, Clare animates her tale with elegant prose, whether it’s the “old charm” of Will’s estate or the couple’s intimacy (“Then, enraptured by my submission, he finally let go—my warrior took me hard on a soft bed of roses”).
Evading killers sets the groundwork for a sublimely written story of love and passion.