Title: Now You See Him
Author: Anne Stuart
Format: Paperback & eBook, 202 pages
Published: April 1, 1992 by Silhouette Books
ReIssued: February 11, 2015 by Bell Bridge Books
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Francey Neeley's life has been torn to pieces. Her handsome and charming Irish boyfriend turned out to be a terrorist who was only after her fortune and planned to kill her once he got it. His "sister" forced Francey to help her attempt a rescue when his cover was blown during a mission to assassinate a world leader. Francey barely escaped with her life in the shoot-out.
Now Francey's secluded herself amidst the beautiful, healing atmosphere of Belle Reste, her cousin's resort on a Jamaican island. She's emotionally shattered and remains under a cloud of suspicion even after being interrogated by every major law enforcement agency.
Warning bells go off from the moment British school teacher Michael Dowd arrives to recuperate from a car accident. Though he's obviously recovering from serious injuries, she sees glimpses of a coldly efficient predator that make her wary of her intense attraction to him. She made one horrible mistake already . . .
Michael Dowd is there to find out the truth about her involvement; he'll seduce her if that's what it takes. And if he learns she was one of the terrorists, he'll kill her.
But someone on the island is trying to kill them both. How will Francey know who to trust when Michael disappears and reappears as a perfect stranger? Who is the villain, and who is the savior? The wrong answer means death.
In a tale as old as time, Francey fell in love with the wrong guy, the majorly wrong guy. Turns out Patrick, her sweet talking Irishman is a strong IRA supporter and heavily involved with a dangerous terrorist group called the Cadre. When Caitlin, who turns out not to be Patrick's sister but lover, shows up accusing Francey of outing Patrick's mission to assassinate the Queen, Francey is thrown for a dangerous loop. After barely escaping Caitlin's dangerous clutches, Francey heads out to an island retreat owned by her cousin to rest and recoup. When a man named Michael shows up to heal from a car accident, Francey is wary and yet drawn to him. Michael is a James Bond for Britain and on the mission to find out if Francey is as innocent as she says she is of Cadre and its terrorist acts. Michael's keeping secrets while trying to discover if Francey has any and working to keep them alive as terrorists, spies, and traitors weave their tangled web around them.
Now You See Him was originally published in 1992 and with the focus on the IRA, it shows it's age a bit. In the beginning, it was hard to get back into the mindset of the politics of the times and led to a slower start for the book. However, once Francey and Michael meet at the island, Anne Stuart's writing and style of action, dark humor, and headbutting tension between leads swept me away. Francey is a heroine from the '90s but a forward one, she has gumption but it's fainter than what is typically found in today's leading women. She's a soft but determined character that was quicker thinking and wonderfully stayed away from any TSTL moments. As with any Stuart hero, Michael has his harsher moments but he is oh so delicious in his big, bad, dangerous, and utterly capable moments, too. The man gets the job done and each time he falls a little bit more for Francey through her quick verbal retorts, vulnerability, strength, and calmness, you'll fall a little bit more for this couple.
The action side controls the pace and direction of the story and while at times it takes over, our couple are strong enough together to remain the central focus. There is a lot happening, the terrorist Cadre, Michael wearing down on his job, uncovering traitors, a vengeful relative of Francey, and our leads fighting to stay alive and falling in love. It may all seem like too much but Stuart keeps it all together and keeps it wildly engaging. In the calmer moments when the focus is on Francey and Michael, there are some truly heartbreaking scenes. Michael is there for Francey, sometimes behind the scenes but always working to keep her safe and never quite managing to keep himself away from her. When Francey is rescued from a jail, Michael holds her while she is in a drug induced state and Francey wakes up thinking it was all a dream; they have their moments of being star-crossed lovers.
It's no secret that I love Stuart's darker toned humor and heroes, both are in full wonderful effect here. There are many twists, turns, and revealed secrets that I won't mention because they deserve to be a surprise when you read the story, just know, if you're looking for a tangled weave spy thriller with romance, then you need to grab a copy of this reissue.