Fire Beneath the Ice
A bad cover and a terrible title can often conceal a wonderful romance. In the case of Fire Beneath The Ice a good title and a beautiful cover conceal a very clumsy book. The premise is intriguing and one we don’t often see in a romance – the first few months after a marriage. But the writing is leaden, the characters are one dimensional, the conflict is unbelievable, and hardly anything happens.
In an earlier book, the heroine Olympic skater Omunique Philyaw had been stalked by a deranged admirer, Marcus Taylor. He had been shot and killed. Now she is engaged to handsome businessman Kenneth Maxwell. As the book begins, Nique wins the silver medal at the Olympics and she and Kenneth are married.
And that’s about it for three quarters of the book.
I have seldom read a book with so much padding. Everything and everyone is described in the most minute detail. Every time Nique, Ken or one of their family changes clothing, the outfit is described. Every time they go to eat, the food is described. Every time they go to someone’s house, the furnishings are described. After Ken and Nique are married, they go on a honeymoon to Japan, and we settle down to the book equivalent of The Travel Channel. After Nique and Ken come back, they begin to build their dream home, and we are treated to the book equivalent of HGTV. They want to entertain their family to a big dinner, and we get The Food Network. Want to know how to make grilled cheese? This book takes several paragraphs to tell you.
Well, finally we get some conflict and plot when Nique goes to the hospital with sore feet and sees a woman die in childbirth which brings back her old fears. Not only had Nique’s mother died giving birth to her, she sees a man who looks like Marcus Taylor. Seem as though he is alive, in a private mental hospital for ex-cops who have lost it!
There is more here too, as Nique faces her fear of dying in childbirth, and bonds with the baby whose mother died giving birth. Then Ken is sued for sexual harassment and lots-o-plot is crammed into the last part of the book. To illustrate the over-the-top nature of the book, the baby has Downs Syndrome, but Nique calls it Ups, since she loves the baby so much.
The characters all had potential. Ken in particular was a wonderful man, almost as perfect as the doll. Nique had been so singleminded in her devotion to her skating that she was not equipped to function in the mundane real world. A book about her and Ken really adjusting to the realities of marriage could have been interesting. But the book as published was simply not good – at all. The dialogue was artificial and sounded awkward when read aloud. If this book ever makes it to books on tape, I pity the reader. The pacing was horrible; most of the book dragged and then all the conflict was jammed into the final quarter. And the numerous love scenes are written in such a manner-of-fact style that any passion between Ken and Nique was quickly extinguished. My emotions were never enagaged in their story.
If Fire Beneath The Ice had been trimmed and edited to a shorter length, had the silly Marcus Taylor sub-plot been dropped and had the chemistry between the lead characters followed through, this might have been a decent series romance. But at 378 pages, it’s padded to the gills in all the wrong places and fails utterly.
With the popularity of ice skating among women, there is an audience for a romance featuring this sport. If books are skaters, Fire Beneath The Ice is Tonya Harding. I’m waiting for Michelle Kwan.