Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: ICE

Title: ICE
Author: Linda Howard
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published: Ballantine/November 2009
Source: Library

From the inside cover ~

'Tis the season for mistletoe and holly, Santa . . . and suspense. And the gift that keeps on giving is Ice: premier thriller author Linda Howard's breathless tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unforgiving winter-and an unrelenting killer. Oh what fun it is to read.

Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders. A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who's fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned. So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It's a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather-and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there's no talking back when your dad is the town's top cop. And there's no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives-and discovers that the weather outside isn't the only thing that's frightful. Spotting strangers in Lolly's home-one of them packing a weapon-is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode. And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors. But when the escape is discovered, the heat-and the hunt-are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.

Wow, the blurb is almost as long as the book. Okay, not really but ICE is a very quick read. IMO it should have been in an anthology along with maybe another popular author and a new author, giving that new author some exposure. But what do I know...

First off, the heroine, Lolly is not a TSTL heroine. Thank you Ms. Howard! I had some concerns because it really could have gone either way. But Lolly turned out to be pretty smart and not one to cower in the corner. She did need Gabe's help and was smart enough to take it and run, with him! I liked that Lolly had a backbone and she used common sense to get away from her captors.

What bugged me about her was that she downplayed her abilities, acting like it was no big deal that she was able to think on her feet and not fall apart. And that she was surprised that Gabe was attracted to her. She was sorely lacking in self-confidence which was most likely rooted in her shyness as a child. Gabe and Lolly had grown up in the same small, Maine town together but were not friends. He was outgoing and popular and she was the shy daughter of the mayor. Which meant that people took her shyness for being stuck up, only making things worse.

Gabe is a typical alpha hero. Nothing wrong with that. I love alphas and Gabe does his job well, helping get Lolly away from the bad guys and fighting them when he needed to. Gabe's internal dialogue as he made his way to Lolly's house on the mountain was entertaining. He was not looking forward to seeing "Miss Hoity-Toity Helton" as he thought of Lolly. It's been fifteen years since they were in high school together and he's expecting her to be the same snob he thought she was in high school. Gabe has since joined the army, been married and widowed and now, with the help of his parents, is raising his young son. Since he's stationed in North Carolina and his schedule is so erratic, his parents take care of his son and he gets to see him whenever he can get time away from the army. Not at all the best situation for Gabe or his son.

The way the story unfolds and the development of the characters is told a bit backward. First comes all the drama and adventure with Gabe and Lolly escaping the crazy people that were holding Lolly hostage at her home. Then they make it back to civilization where they can catch their collective breathes. Then they are able to talk about the more mundane like how they can have any kind of relationship with Gabe living in North Carolina and Lolly living in Portland, Maine. What Gabe's life is like living away from his son. If either of them are romantically involved with anyone. It's like Howard put the "getting to know you" phase of the relationship last.

The problem I had with the book and why it wasn't an A read, wasn't that the writing or plot were bad but the story was so predictable. There's so much more that could have been expanded on and enhanced to make it a more complete and fuller story. Once it was established that Lolly wasn't going to be a crying heap of uselessness, the story became fairly predictable with Gabe and Lolly working as a team to eventually defeating the psycho kidnappers and making their way to safety where they have hot "Thank God we're alive" sex. Then Howard wraps up the ending with a pretty bow of the potential for a continuing of the HEA that started on the mountain.

I should briefly mention Lolly's kidnappers. They didn't impress me at all. It was pure dumb luck that they managed to get as far as they did. It would have made for more interesting storytelling to have more background on the antagonists and for them to have some type of history with Lolly or Gabe. Would have made for a longer book too!

While I liked ICE, I would definitely recommend it as a library read. Too short and predictable for hard cover prices, even with a discount. :)

Rating: B


  1. This is one I'm passing on because of the small size and the big price. Even when it comes out in PB, I'll still pass on it. It hurts to do this - turn down a Linda Howard, but from all I've heard, it's more the size of a Harlequin and I won't pay more then that for it. Besides *gulp* I haven't finished Burn yet.
    But I'm glad you liked it despite the shortness. I keep hoping Linda Howard will write the kind of books she wrote a number of years ago, but alas, it doesn't seem to be happening.

  2. Leslie, going by your review, this book just reminded me of a category romance suspense. It's too bad this is a HC & so expensive. I love Howard's writing, but even so... predictable? That's a shame. :(

  3. Kristie ~ I wish Howard had made Ice longer, deeper character and plot development. It had the potential.

    Hope you're able to finish Burn. Ice and Burn were both okay but they didn't have that magic, that WOW, like her older books.

    Hils ~ this could have easily been a category romance suspense. IDK how the page count would translate to mmp but I doubt it would be much more than the 198 pages it is in hc.