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REVIEW: Ice by Linda Howard

Dear Ms. Howard:

I confess that I was at first taken aback by the length of this hardcover. I remember thinking unkind thoughts about this format when Janet Evanovich put out her first Christmas hardcover. Those have sold like crazy so I guess that readers are unfazed by the length of the story and the cost. After all, a story is a story, right?

When I started ICE, I began to get excited. A good category length Howard is worth hardcover pricing. I know that I would have paid quite a bit to read the Diamond Bay trilogy because it was so good. The first and second chapters read like a vintage category Howard romance and if it had kept in that vein, I would have been able to recommend this unreservedly. However, in keeping with your current writing voice, this book is far more focused on the action/suspense than it is on the characters and their relationship with each other.

The story takes place, mostly, over the space of one afternoon. There is an impending icestorm and military policeman, Gabriel, is home on leave. His father, the local sheriff, sends him to retrieve Lolly Helton from her mountain home because she won’t be able to survive up there if there is an icestorm. Gabriel is not thrilled about his father’s assignment. He wants to spend the afternoon with his son and he doesn’t really like Lolly. When they were in high school, Lolly always looked down her nose at him. Him! The highschool jock, son of the sheriff, friend to everyone; yet Lolly was always using her sharp tongue to cut him down. Still, Gabriel isn’t going to refuse to do what his father asks and heads up the mountain.

Lolly is preparing the family home for sale. Her parents have moved south and Lolly doesn’t live in the area. The local grocery store owner invites Lolly to stay with them over the icestrom and Lolly acquiesces. She knows the danger. She heads back up the mountain to get the supplies she needs. Her return to town is cut short when two meth addicts break into her home and prepare to rape, rob, and kill her.

It’s about the time when the meth addicts appear on the scene that the book kind of falls apart for me, maybe because I was hoping and anticipating Lolly and Gabriel interaction. no matter how hard you had Lolly explain everything to me, I was beset with questions regarding the plausibility of the suspense. For example, meth addict 1 is male and tries to rape Lolly only his girlfriend, Meth 2, comes in and starts to beat Meth 1 about the head. Why would Meth 1 think that he could get away with raping Lolly when his girlfriend was standing right there? Did he have a history of this? Was it simply to place Lolly in further sympathy with the reader? When they put Lolly in a room upstairs, it easily allows her to escape. Why not just tie her to a chair in the same room as the Meth heads? Or why wouldn’t they try to secure her in some fashion?

Now the answer may be that the Meth addicts are high and who can explain their actions, but they seemed capable of executing a plan (targeting Lolly in the grocery store and following her up the mountain, getting her to give them money, etc). It was no quick grab sort of thing.

Gabriel comes along and they try to escape together but they are found out by the bad guys so Lolly, Gabriel and the bad guys are running in the woods in the mountain during the icestorm. Only Gabriel and Lolly are affected by the cold. The Meth addicts seem impervious. Where Lolly is nearly hypothermic, Meth addict is able to plot, plan and carry out an effective threat to both Gabriel and Lolly’s lives.

The interaction between Gabriel and Lolly is quite brief and there is no real character development. The focus is squarely on the icestorm and the meth addicts and the danger the two pose for both Gabriel and Lolly. While the story ends with Gabriel and Lolly pursuing each other, I wasn’t convinced of much of anything at the end, least of all their ability to form a lasting connection. C

Best regards


This book can be purchased in hardcover at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. jmc
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 15:15:20

    This plot sounds vaguely familiar. Didn’t Linda Howard write a storm/stranded Christmas story once before? Involving criminals or hostages of some sort?

  2. maddie
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 15:29:46

    The Meth addicts seem impervious. Where Lolly is nearly hypothermic, Meth addict is able to plot, plan and carry out an effective threat to both Gabriel and Lolly's lives.

    You’ll be surprised what drug addicts will do when high, couple of years ago two kids high on meth left their car in a snow storm and froze to death at the time they were on the phone with 911 in a rural area, making weird statements to the operator.


    OK about the book went to Borders on the 10th and picked it up, looked at it and put it back on the shelf, I just could not see myself paying $11.88 for a hard cover that thin.

    I felt like I was being scammed, I want to know who came up with the brilliant ideal of doing this book in hardcover!!

    I will be waiting next year for it in paper back

  3. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 15:49:46

    meth addict = the new zombie?

    I too saw that crazy report on the meth kids who wandered around in the snow till they died, never really understanding that it was COLD and they were in serious TROUBLE (but that returning to their car would be a good start). Makes me doubt that anyone in like condition could plan anything remotely dangerous to a lucid adult.

  4. Ann Bruce
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 18:17:10

    @jmc: You’re thinking of White Out. Woman living alone in mountain cabin, finds an unconscious man in a snow storm, somehow manages to drag him to safety, they have sex, he wakes up (yes, it happened in that order), and bad guy posing as the sheriff comes knocking.

  5. Sarah
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 18:18:33

    I skimmed this in the store and left without purchasing. I think I made the right choice judging by the review. I’m always very wary of the holiday novels that come out this time of year.

  6. Janet W
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 18:37:29

    Thank goodness for the library. This keeps up, though, I won’t even read them from there. Seriously, why?

  7. jmc
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 18:58:07

    @Ann Bruce: Thank you!

  8. Throwmearope
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 19:10:26

    She also did Bluebird Christmas (I think that’s the name of the novelette) about a pediatrician stranded with a pregnant woman. He delivers the baby (N.B. I know a lot of pediatricians and they would probably faint if they had to deliver a baby) and then marries the mother.

    But you naysayers can say all you like, I enjoy Linda Howard, she remains an autobuy for me. And I own every book she ever wrote.

    As for meth heads, I’ve met quite a few in my day and their behavior always astonishes me.

    Jane is harshing my mellow again.

  9. maddie
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 19:18:06

    @ Sarah

    I'm always very wary of the holiday novels that come out this time of year.

    LMAO because it’s so true !!!!

  10. DS
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 19:49:39

    Wasn’t Bluebird Christmas the Christmas give away from Harlequin the year it came out? I find that far more acceptable than the short holiday hardbacks that discount and warehouse stores are infested with. I think Mary Clark Higgins actually did this before Evanovich. Still no less annoying.

  11. Peggy P
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 19:58:46

    OK, I was first on the list of the library for the audiobook download – it’s only about 5.5 hours so I knew it wasn’t much more than category length. It’s a DNF at this point… it’s so repetitive about the damn ice storm, you can’t get off the mountain…because of the ice storm and it’s cold… because of the ice storm and they are outside running…because of the ice storm. After 3 hours – I can’t take any more… of the ice storm! The meth addicts are both dead now, so what’s the point of going on with this story? The apparent danger is over except for the damn never ending ice storm and these two characters have no heat (pun intended) and barely can speak… because of the ice storm.

    And by the way, I love me some Linda Howard – but not this mess.

  12. neva
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 23:01:52

    I didn’t mind the book however I do wish I’d read this review before I forked out the money. I was pissed about how short this book was. Just reiterating the review but the first few chapters were great and I thought finally she’s back!! Then disappointment. I stay forever hopeful

  13. Annmarie
    Nov 13, 2009 @ 04:49:45

    My copy is waiting at the post office. I really don’t have $12 right now to throw away. But. But. I have ALL of Linda Howard’s books even though they aren’t what I want them to be these days. *weeps*

    Come to think of it, she does seem to be using man/woman against nature plus man/woman against completely unrealistic bad guys a LOT these days. I don’t like nature as a foe. It’s why I don’t read Jack London.

    Come back Linda Howard! Come BAAAAACK!

  14. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 13, 2009 @ 10:51:59

    I couldn’t get past the idea that the heroine was an ice lolly. I wondered why Linda Howard hadn’t noticed that Lolly was a bit of a silly name for the heroine of a book called Ice, but it seems that in the US you probably call what I’d call an “ice lolly” a “popsicle.”

  15. brooksse
    Nov 14, 2009 @ 11:21:10

    Linda Howard used to be on my auto-buy list, but I’ve been really disappointed in her recent books. I just can’t justify paying hardback price–even $9.99 for the ebook version–for a book I’ll probably read only once. I’d rather re-read one of her old books. I’d even pay the hardback price for the reissue of Diamond Bay before I’d pay full price for her new books.

    And is it just me, or do and more of Linda Howard’s books seem to be based on gimmicks that result in thin plots? Winning the lottery; getting stuck in an ice storm. Even Mr. Perfect (the last book of hers I really enjoyed) seemed gimmicky to me. Based on one of those emails that everyone and their aunt forwards to you. The only reason I enjoyed Mr. Perfect was for the relationship between Sam and Jaine. Her newer books just don’t seem to have that spark between the main characters.

  16. library addict
    Nov 14, 2009 @ 18:03:48

    I checked it out from the library, so I am not out any money. But I would like my time back.

    LH stopped being an auto-buy for me many years ago. But I keep reading her books, thinking the next one will recapture the magic that made many of her late 80s/early 90s books and novellas so great. And I’d be lying if I said I won’t give Veil of Night a try. But if it’s in the same vein as her last several, I think I will be done. It’s sad, and has taken many years, but I have reached that point.

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