On Thin Ice
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2002, 1995 reissue)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-6845-X

Sheesh. Susan Andersen's On Thin Ice can pretend to be a romantic suspense all it wants, but it's just another annoying Ode To Female Purity. The heroine may not be virginal, but since apparently all her sexual experiences are one for the annals of pain and misery, she may as well be a virgin martyr. The villain in this story is an evil woman is just jealous of our pure heroine and is mad because she can't be like Sasha Miller of Ye Pure and she can't steal the hot men from the Great Pure Sashami.

Oh, and as usual, Ms Andersen demonstrates her keen ear for Ethnic Ebonics by picking one fellow, in this case the Great Pure Sashami's dance teacher, Ivan Petralahti, to enlighten us on the Great Kaa the Serpent way of speaking: "What iss this? What iss so bad that it makes my Sashala cry?"

The Great Pure Sashami is a professional ice skater who had won silver in the Olympics once. Our skeletal and no doubt anorexic Sashami had a bad brush with infamy once when her dance partner Lon got involved in a drug scandal and almost brought her down with it. People thought her a drug junkie ho! Oh, how could they? Can't they see when the Great Pure Sashami get into those tighties and sway those Lycra-clad skeletally bony ass cheeks to You Light Up My Life that she iss, sorry, is Pure and Good?

Our hero is Mick Vinicor, a cop who has the attitude that if you ain't shooting, cussing, or having a permanently engorged winkie, you ain't no man, you are a pencil pusher. He is assigned to go undercover as the manager to the troupe of which the Great Pure Sashami is a skater, and naturally, he suspects her a whore! A slut! A dealing junkie! He will seduce her just to get Proof that she is a Whore and a Dealing Junkie!

I'm so touched that Dick Vinegar here is willing to Whore himself just to prove that the Great Pure Sashami is a Whore.

Of course, Dick Vinegar all but mashes his groin against the Great Pure Sashami, but to my surprise, the Holy Sashami tells me that she has never encountered anyone who is so subtle (her own word) in his seduction before. Subtle? If Dick Vinegar is subtle, Popeye is Prince Gallant.

It is a great hoot to see how bad a cop Dick Vinegar is. He is not smooth or slick, but Ms Andersen is laboring under the delusion that he is, and it's hilarious. Someone who foams and rants and presses his heated winkie at the heroine while blaming her for turning him on - smooth and subtle? Oh baby, take a baseball bat and club me in the head, and maybe then I'll see things the author's way. And as someone who is supposed to be undercover and try to keep a low profile, Dick Vinegar antagonizes what seems like everybody in no time and it is just lucky that the female skaters in this story are idiots waiting to be used by cavemen, because they all find him so-ooo-ooo hot that they will forgive him for anything.

Dick Vinegar has issues, although his Madonna/Whore complex is not as bad as some of the heroes from this author's romantic suspense books. He and the Holy Sashami have familiar issues of contrived bad ex/bad sex, although the author goes the extra mile to make the Holy Sashami so pure (read: sexually dysfunctional) as compared to Dick Vinegar's underbaked issues. Both characters don't come off well as well-rounded characters.

In fact, I don't even see these two people lasting past the weekend, much less getting a happily-ever-after. Factor in a silly suspense plot that serves only to show the reader how Evil and Slutty all those sexually active women are out there compared to the Great Pure Sashami here, and On Thin Ice is indeed skating on thin ice. The high-school all-other-girls-are-sluts "I am pure and I win the football captain!" mentality of this story only adds to the juvenile feel of the whole affair - it is very hard to take On Thin Ice seriously.

Rating: 55

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