by Stephanie Rowe, contemporary (2009)
LoveSpell, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52776-9
Stephanie Rowe's Chill is set in Alaska just like her previous romantic suspense romp Ice. In fact, the heroes of both books are pilots who work together to do their manly stuff in that place.
Isabella Kopas has worked for Marcus Fie as his antique expert for six years. In these six years, she has decided that she wants Marcus to be her substitute daddy (not in an Anna Nicole Smith way, of course) so on his 60th birthday, she decides to give him a bracelet announcing to him that he's the father she never had. Alas, the party goes terribly wrong and bullets start to fly, leaving Isabella with this hare-brained scheme that she needs to go to Alaska and locate Marcus's estranged son Alex in order to save Marcus. And before you ask, no, Alex doesn't have a sibling named Semper. Isabella's logic is something I don't even want to figure out here. Yes, I think Isabella is psychologically disturbed and she needs to be sedated. How can you tell?
Alex is now Luke Webber, nursing the wounds of his emo soul in Alaska. Naturally, he hates his father. Isabella approaches him and in her typical hysterical "Daddy! Prozac! Somebody love me before I accidentally cut myself!" manner, has him becoming suspicious and even hostile with her at first. But once Isabella demonstrates that people are out to kill her, Luke can't bring himself to let her die. Oh, and in the meantime, he gives her lots of angry kisses and furious thrusts, and Isabella naturally is unable to resist such manly displays of affection. She remarks when she first sees Luke that he looks so much like the man she wants so badly to her daddy, so I can only imagine that starring in Luke's angry manly sex matinee is a win-win situation where she is concerned. Seriously, that heroine gives me the creeps.
I am still not sure what has happened by the time I reached the last page because the plot is so convoluted and the villain shows up abruptly at around the middle point of the story. Ice works because the suspense subplot is relatively uncomplicated, but the subplot in this one requires explanation after explanation, which should have told Ms Rowe in the first place that her plot is probably too convoluted for its own good.
Alex or Luke is a pretty typical sullen alpha hero, dispensing angry kisses and wanting to have sex at the oddest of moments. But Isabella is a complete train wreck - following her is an exhausting process. I don't know why, but Ms Rowe makes it clear from the very start that Isabella is going to be horribly wrong about Marcus Fie. Therefore, it is painful to follow Isabella as she clings to her delusion that she is going to get a fabulous father in Marcus Fie. Throughout the story, Isabella is a double D of a damsel in distress, constantly going "Oh god! Oh god!" as Luke scrambles to save her. So, to recap, she's pathetically wrong, constantly needing rescue, and is neurotic as anything can be. [spoiler starts] To add insult to the injury, she's supposed to be this expert in antiquities, but the bad guys are using her to lure Luke out because he's a better expert in antiquities. Unbelievable. Just what is Isabella good for, really? We should just put her down and end her pathetic existence. [spoiler ends]
A convoluted plot, a hopelessly weak and delusional heroine who comes off as seriously in need of a long stay at some asylum for the mentally disturbed, and bizarre angry sex all contribute to make Chill a befuddling romantic suspense.
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