Review: Without a Conscience by Cat Gardiner

Review: Without a Conscience by Cat GardinerWithout a Conscience by Cat Gardiner

Series: #2 Conscience
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Vanity & Pride Press on November 11, 2016
Pages: 316
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
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four-half-stars      four-flames

Iceman ups the ante on the adrenaline and the passion in the return to the shadowy Conscience world.  Without A Conscience is a solid sequel that pursues the ongoing story of a man trying to walk away from his past to embrace the love of a woman also trying to build something new in the present.

Without a Conscience is book two in the Conscience series.  It is best if it is read in order behind Denial of Conscience.  In fact, if the reader plans to read the series, I’d suggest not reading the rest of my review so you don’t encounter any incidental spoilers.  Also, I’d suggest not neglecting the Guilty Conscience collection of vignettes that falls between the two books giving insight into what comes in this book.

The story opens with retired Obsidian assassin, Fitzwilliam ‘Iceman’ Darcy enjoyed married bliss with his Liz at his family’s estate, Pemberley.  Raising and training horses and polo ponies while Liz putters around with her orchids in the Conservatory keeps them busy and content, yet both of them hope that they can hold onto the peace and happiness they fought so hard to obtain.  Liz is convinced that she is not enough to hold her husband’s attention and that he will eventually leave her to go back to his high-octane life and the fast women.  At the same time, Darcy worries that some evil from his past will show up and snatch away his happiness with Liz.

Far away, an enemy plots to draw Iceman out in the open where revenge can finally be had for a past Iceman kill shot.  He meticulously sets his trap involving a dangerous black widow lover who specializes in poisons, human traffickers, and deals with dirty government operatives.  The trap is baited with the capture of Richard Fitzwilliam, head of Obsidian, but more importantly, the Iceman’s cousin.  Darcy is torn between honoring his promise to Liz to never go back to Obsidian and his need to rescue his cousin.  Liz has to decide if she really trusts in her husband or if her fears will rule her as he goes back into action once again.

Alright, this was an explosive story on so many levels.  There is always the fear that a sophomore book in the series won’t live up to the foundation laid in the first book.  However, from the beginning, this one blew away those doubts.  The complexity and layers of character and romance development over action and suspense plot easily pulled me in and kept me reading on.  I was lost in the world of this tribute to the old-style spy story with it’s daring black ops team members, hi-tech gadgetries, exotic locations, and super villains.  And beyond that, it is the ongoing love story of a pair who are past the first blush of love and must learn how to make an ongoing relationship work built on trust, respect, and sigh…communication.

There are multiple viewpoints used to tell the story and I loved hopping heads to get to know many of the players in this large and colorful cast of characters that surround Iceman and Liz.  I was tickled that the ladies were actually more big and bad than the gents in this one much of the time.  Though, I did feel Liz was more lucky than good and a few times I wasn’t sure she got what was really going down around her.  She led with her emotions.  She and Darcy both made some mistakes, but I enjoyed seeing them want what they had together so badly that they fought for it and overcame their barriers.

The story is not the end of the series.  It finished at a good place leaving the reader with a sense of the main plot finished in a mission accomplished way, but there is also the set up for what is to come in the next story segment for Iceman, Liz, and the gang.  Those who enjoy the old-style spy thrillers and a sultry love story should give this series a look-see.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #28 RS
Literary Pickers #28 spy
Austenesque Lovers #6
Books N Tunes #8 AC/DC’s Highway to Hell

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

Latest posts by Sophia Rose (see all)

  • Iceman, that’s an interesting name. Awesome that you are so invested in the series. I love follow up books

    • Its his spy name. Yes, I definitely need to know what happens next. 🙂

  • That’s cool the ladies were the big bad ones 🙂 Even if they stumbled upon it now and again. lol Thanks for the heads up on reading in order 🙂

    • Oh yeah, the black widow poisoner, the cold spy lady, and hot blooded Liz and her surprisingly enterprising sister were great. I was all into the girl power. 🙂

  • Debbie Haupt

    This looks good Sophia Rose and I took you advice and didn’t read the entire review bc I’m adding it to my list! Thanks

    • I’ve had a good time with these. It gives me my old style James Bond and cold war spy fix with some romance. 🙂 Hope you get the chance, Debbie!

  • Oh, wow. This DOES sound good! I read the whole thing even though I haven’t started the series. Oopsie. 😉

    I like that they were both fighting for each other instead of just one of them. It makes it so much more intense that way.

    Great review!

    • LOL, that’s okay. I didn’t really give any spoilers for this book, but it might be a little for the first book. Just cautious. 😉

      Yes, that was a crucial point for me, too. They might have their troubles, but they both worked to make things happen to fix it.

      Thanks, Angie!

  • Yes I always have that slight fear too that the second book won’t be as good as the first and it’s great when your fears were ungrounded and book 2 is just as good. The complexity and multiple layers of the characters does sound very well done. Sounds like this author does the multiple point of view thing well, I can really enjoy multiple point of views when well done. it’s fun to get a feel for everyone. Great review!

    • I have to laugh sometimes the way I hesitate or anticipate or all the other big feelings I get before reading a book. 🙂
      I’m the same about the multiple POVs when its done well.

      Thanks, Lola!