Flap copy from ARC:
"Emily Hudson is an artifacts expert for the U.N. who travels to war torn countries attempting to save their priceless treasures from destruction. Her best friend and partner, Joel Levy, is always at her side—until one day, her entire crew comes under attack. Joel and Emily are held hostage by a ruthless and evil captor who is determined to find the missing link to a legendary treasure. For weeks they struggle to survive against terrifying odds.
John Garrett has worked for the CIA, MI6, and whoever else was willing to pay for his servicesneeded his services. Now, the CIA comes calling and desperate. The mission: save Emily Hudson and Joel Levy. But their may be more to this job than they let him know..."
I've been reading Iris Johansen since she was writing pure romance, and have enjoyed her moves to suspenseful romance, romantic suspense, and now pure thriller. That said, I felt like this book was just average. The mystery plot seemed needlessly complicated (as are most things that involve Rasputin and the Romanovs) which left little time to develop the many characters featured in the novel. Only Emily really seemed fully fleshed- the others were all caricatures rather than characters.
This would make a good beach read, but is likely to disappoint readers looking for Johansen's signature heat; the focus here is definitely on the mystery rather than on the relationships. The book was well-written to be sure, but never really delved into the motivations of the characters or provided much of an explanation for the ever-growing body count. All in all, not Johansen's best work by a long shot.