Dear Ms. Garwood
The lure of the 100% micropay rebate at Fictionwise was too great for me to overcome despite the fact my last few encounters with your books have not ended well. I’m happy to say that Fire and Ice is an improvement over recent publications but it doesn’t reach the level of the Garwood keeper shelf. At the hardcover price, I’d be hardpressed to recommend this as anything but a library read for many romance readers. For a hardcover Garwood fan, though, you have to ask yourself if reading an okay Garwood is better than reading 3 to 4 new authors.
Sophie Rose is the daughter of a notorious suspected criminal in the city of Chicago. Her father, Bobby Rose, is like a modern day Robin Hood. He steals money from corrupt businessmen and gives it back to the victims (and keeps some for himself). Sophie works for a small independent newspaper publisher because it was the only one whose editor promised not to ask Sophie to write about her father. Sophie, herself, has taken to cutting off most contact with her father, refusing funds from him and trying to live within her own earned means. It’s not easy. Sophie has enjoyed the good life full of Dolce & Gabbanna, luxurious accommodations, and meals.
Sophie is sent on a crap assignment (much like all of her assignments are) to cover one William Emmet Harrington, a wealthy self absorbed individual, who is running his twenty-fifth marathon. During their interview William reveals that after the race, he’ll be partaking in a secret project that only the fittest are selected for. William never finishes the race and Sophie ends up with a phone call from someone in Alaska informing her that William was eaten by a Polar Bear and her card was in his sock.
Chicago is heating up for Sophie as her father is being accused of stealing a pension fund and so she decides, with the approval of her editor, to head to Alaska to investigate William’s death. Because she is much beloved by everyone but the villains, an FBI agent is enlisted to go with her, as a favor to Sophie’s protectors. Sophie’s groupies include a retired former policeman who spends hours at a time checking her apartment and work place for bugs and expects no renumeration; Sophie’s friend’s very rich brother, Aiden, who set himself up as Sophie’s guardian while her father was on the lam when Sophie was 13; and assorted other police, FBI, and other such individuals. No Garwood story is truly a Garwood without the innocent, but passionate, kind hearted, giving heroine who everyone loves.
There is plenty of good humor in the story, particularly the exchanges between Sophie and Jack, the FBI agent chosen to protect her and partner of the FBI husband of one of Sophie’s friends.
"Stop looking at me like that."
"How am I looking at you?" Jack asked.
"Like you think I’m an idiot."
"Then I nailed it. Good."
Jack is very inscrutable, both in the book to Sophie, but also to the reader. You get very few scenes from Jack’s point of view. Jack is efficient, fairly unemotional, and likes the ladies. At some point in the book, I think after they have sex for the first time, Jack decides that he only likes one lady. But how that came about and why is something the reader has to fill in for herself.
While this story has a romance between Jack and Sophie, I am hardpressed to call it a romance because it doesn’t focus on the emotional journey between Jack and Sophie, but rather the story of William Herrington’s death and how that might be connected to a study of wolves in Alaska. There is a major plot point that is left hanging at the end, either intentionally or because you weren’t quite sure where to go with it, but in an effort for realism, I thought it should have been addressed. The mystery was fairly easy to figure out although who the principal "wrongdoer" was well hidden.
Most of the characters are recognizable as standard Garwood players. There’s nothing revelatory in this book, but if readers are looking for a familiar comfort read, Fire and Ice would fit the bill. C.