When a romance is titled Snowed In, I picture cold weather and warm relations between main characters. What I didn’t expect was such a frigid bitch of a heroine. I know, I know, in the spirit of the season I should be more forgiving of a character’s flaws and try to see the goodness within them, but if I’m honest, this story isn’t worth that much effort.
Marissa Clarke had her whole life planned out by the time she was eighteen. Finish college, get her degree and settle down with the love of her life, Chris Brooks. Unfortunately for Marissa, Chris had other plans for his life that didn’t include his high school sweetheart. His path was a career in the NBA full of success, money and a different woman in his bed every night. Marissa is heartbroken when she discovers Chris is already working hard at the second part of his plan with one of her friends right before their wedding day. Seeing her dreams crumbling to dust is painful but what hurts more is that their mutual good friend Scott Parker knew all about Chris’s cheating but never told her.
Flash forward a few years and Marissa has returned to her home town for her best friend’s wedding and a reunion with many of their old friends, including Scott. Seeing him again dredges up all of the painful memories of his complicity in hiding Chris’s activities so she turns the tables by being rude and cold towards his offers of a renewed friendship. Circumstances at the hotel and the severe winter weather force Marissa to accept Scott’s offer of a place to stay for a night but she’s not in the mood to be nice to the man, even though she’s quite attracted to how sexy he looks in a tuxedo.
Scott had always been attracted to Marissa but back in college she only had eyes for Chris and he was content to just be her friend. After the big break-up, Scott wanted to comfort her and explain why he couldn’t tell her the truth about her boyfriend but Marissa felt betrayed and lashed out in all directions, including his. Seeing her again at the wedding reception seemed to Scott like the perfect time to approach her again and see if there was any chance to explore the feelings he’d held onto for years. Unfortunately, Marissa has allowed his one mistake to fester in her mind ever since, and she’s not really the forgiving sort. He knows she’s only in town for one more night but having her in his home is a temptation he can’t ignore so he offers her an evening together with no strings attached. In his mind a seduction could be the way past her defenses and into her heart forever.
Snowed In has a lot of potential, with a story of friends reunited who find love but it never quite comes together into a viable romance. Marissa isn’t a very nice person and her refusal to let go of the past taints every interaction she has with Scott. I didn’t mince words when I called her a bitch earlier and almost every time she opens her mouth it just reinforces how catty and hardnosed Marissa remains throughout the book. She’s too rigid in her belief that her independence was hard-won, which is rather ridiculous considering the only pain and suffering she ever experienced was the break-up with Chris. Scott tries any way that he can to show Marissa that he’s no longer the college kid who chose the wrong friend to support, but she can’t see past her own nose to discover what a good guy he really is.
It also doesn’t help matters that the entire arc of their courtship is based on sex. The intimate scenes are plentiful but they’re just there to fill in the rather noticeable story gaps. Whenever a conversation between Marissa and Scott gets too emotional (usually for Marissa) they go back to the bedroom and things are stalled once again. Ms. Bayley-Burke tries to infuse Marissa with some dimension by making her the instigator in many of the intimate moments but it backfires. Rather than forming a connection with Scott by sharing herself with him it seems more like she’s using Scott to get her kicks. I struggled to put all the pieces together to see how love was forming between the two and by the final chapters I just gave up the fight. They were together (somehow) and in love (I guess) and I was done with the whole thing.
I think that the author had some wonderful plans for Snowed In but ran into problems in the execution. She wrote herself into a corner by creating such a shrewish leading lady that readers would be hard pressed to find anything to like about her. I don’t necessarily want to put myself into the shoes of a heroine but I want to like her and care about her journey. I found myself actively hating Marissa and wishing Scott would kick her out into the snow to freeze to death.