Book Review: The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Posted August 29, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Ultimatum by Karen Robards
Genres: Action Thriller
Published by Mira Books on June 13, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: The Moscow Deception

First in The Guardian action thriller series and revolving around Bianca St Ives, a thief, con artist, and respected security consultant in Savannah, Georgia.

My Take

Lord, talk about IN-TENSE. Robards will keep you flipping these pages…and you may want to be sure to have The Moscow Deception on hand before you finish The Ultimatum. I almost wanted to scream when I discovered my library didn’t have it as an eBook!

The details in here about thievery, misdirection, planning on the fly, the fun gadgets, the extent of the planning…everything is so well done. In fact, hmmm, maybe that’s another reason I was flipping those pages so quickly.

It’s all about being on the outside, looking in. Never being a part of “normal” life, which we learn from Bianca’s perspective in single third person point-of-view. We know she’s a strong woman, but with this POV, we also see how rattled she, as events unroll. Not that Bianca lets that stop her. Dang, if I could think one-fourth as well as she does on the fly…well…

We learn more about Bianca’s dad from her memories and from those hunting him than from him. I’ll be curious to know what he does for her in The Moscow Deception, that’s for sure. Especially after that surprise Bianca came home to. That Colin certainly has me intrigued, as he seems much too interested in Bianca for an operator like himself who’s tangled up with those people. That’ll be another curiosity I need to satisfy. Doc and Hay don’t do much for me. Yet. We’ll see. But Evie. Now Evie I like a lot. She’s determined to stand up for herself no matter how nasty her family is. And good for her! Thinking Evie should accept Fourth straying once in awhile, like a good wife. I don’t think so.

The Story

It’s only now with the collapse of the heist, the death of most of her team, that twenty-some-year-old memories begin to rise up in Bianca’s brain.

The thing is, the US government doesn’t believe he’s really dead, and 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 his family 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.

The Characters

The incredibly skilled and cool Bianca St Ives, with her degree in English literature from Sarah Lawrence, is Jennifer Ashley, art expert, on the Bahrain job.

Guardian Consulting is…
…Bianca’s real-life cover as a security consultant. The five-months pregnant Evangeline “Evie” Talmadge is a childhood friend from Bianca’s days at Le Rosey, a boarding school in the Swiss Alps, who needed a job when Fourth, her about-to-be-ex-husband, a.k.a., the philandering William Wentworth Thornton IV, drained her accounts and canceled her credit cards. (He’s been sleeping with Drew Healey‘s daughter, Annabeth.) Rosalie is Evie’s mother. Haywood “Hay” Long is Bianca’s second-in-command and a childhood friend of both Evie’s and Bianca’s. Latts and Harper work under Hay. Doc is now head of cyber security.

Gordon “Kaz” Kazmarek is the owner and CEO of a worldwide megachain of mall-based Gordon’s Jewelry Stores. Dynex, Inc is another important client. Simpsonville drops off money at payday loan stores. Claybourne Realty needs security for their agents holding open houses.

Richard St Ives, a.k.a., Traveler, is her father, the head of their team, the operation’s mastermind known as Kenneth Rapp. He’s also a master-thief, a legend, and on every major most-wanted list in the world. His other, newer, family includes seven-year-old Marin and his wife, Margery Humphries, who know him as Edward Humphries. Bianca’s mother had been, supposedly, Ann Johnson St Ives.

The rest of the team includes Miles Davis “Doc” Zeigler, a.k.a., Terry Brown, a computer genius. Thomas Findley is a forger; Nate Grangier is muscle.

The Alphabets and Assorted Law Enforcement
Laurent Durand is with Interpol and keen on capturing St Ives. Working with Durand, Colin Rogan, a private contractor and former MI6, has many aliases for all sorts of reasons.

John Kemp is the deputy head of covert operations for the CIA.

C is the head of MI6 and sent Timothy Cowles-Parker, a senior MI6 officer, to the meeting.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is…
…under the DoD umbrella. Alexander Groton, who married into money, is its recently retired head, and still with his fingers in a lot of pies.

Manama, Bahrain
It’s a fab party being held by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa at the palace. “King Kong” is His Highness’ head of security. “Mickey” is a tall, dark, and handsome guest who can kiss. “Sylvia” sure thinks so. Brigadier General Hamad bin Squer Al Amiri of the Bahraini Royal Guard knew of the plan. Samira is support staff at the meeting.

Theft of a prototype weapons defense
Justin Lee, a.k.a., Austin Hunt, went all Mission Impossible. Walt Sturgeon is the CEO of Allied Industries in San Jose, California. He owns the Conquistador, a mega-yacht. Gemma is Walt’s daughter and engaged to be married to Greg. “Cara Levine” needs an invite to the party. Hagan Brothers is Allied’s preferred plumber. Brenda Smolski is a a master plumber.

Little Extras About Bianca

Bianca’s home is…
…a condo she bought while it was under construction. So handy for those little extras. Angela Pack is the live-in super. Her sons include Sage (17), Trevor (15), and Quincy (11), who has a dire emergency. Shawn Torres, a.k.a., “Snake”, is a bully who probably won’t be bothering Quincy any more.

Bianca also owns Dance Dreams Ballet School which she leases to Lori Huddleston and Kathleen Groves.

SiuSiu Tseng owns a busy tailor shop in Macau with a nice sideline in thief couture. Tony Bennett is singing at the party. Susan Clemons is Hay’s now-ex-girlfriend. Tod Schuster is a successful stockbroker who just didn’t do it for Bianca. Nor did Gabriel Thomas or Ben Moss. Les Harding was simply a mistake. Grace Cappy may be Hay’s fix-up. A Red Notice is an international wanted-persons alert.

Twenty-two years ago
Beth McAlister is four years old and snuggled up with her mother, Anissa “Issa” Jones. Mousie is her stuffed kitten. The Shadow is what hunts them. Mason Thayer is her father. He’s also ex-CIA, formerly on the Cerberus Project, a top secret program with its team of government-sanctioned assassins. And dead. A Sarah, Elizabeth, and Sean McAlister were ruled a murder-suicide in Ozaukee County.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a foggy grayed-out yellow-green that tapers into a deep purple at the bottom with Westminster Palace in the background. It’s Bianca in a knee-length coat walking down the pavement, almost a silhouette of herself in the center with the author’s name in an embossed and black-outlined white centered across her. Below that is the title in an embossed and black-outlined red.

The title is awash in ’em, but only The Ultimatum really counts.

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