Melting the Ice
by Loreth Anne White
(Silh. Int. Mom. 1254, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27324-X
***
Melting the Ice, Loreth Anne Whiteís first novel, tells the story of two people who fall in love with each other for the second time despite their less-than-ideal circumstances, including a significant secret and a dangerous international mystery. Easily read in one sitting, this book by first-time author White held my interest even if it didnít quite engage my emotions.

Hannah McGuireís friend, reporter Amy Barnes, has been missing for almost a year when a body is found on Powder Mountain. In spite of the fact that Amyís home was ransacked around the same time she disappeared, the coroner rules Amyís death accidental. Hannah, a single mom and former foreign correspondent, knows her friendís death was no accident and vows to find out what really happened.

Hannah lives with her son in White River, which is soon to host an International Toxicology Conference. This scientific conference brings Rex Logan to White River and back into the lives of Hannah and the son he never knew existed. Rex and Hannah were lovers six years ago, until one day he left her without a word. Since then, he hadnít seen Hannah until he spots her in a newspaper photograph on the scene of Amyís death.

Rex isnít just a scientist ó heís also part of the British Special Air Services tracking a terrorist known as the Plague Doctor. After years of searching, Rex believes heís closing in on the terrorist and expects to capture him at the toxicology conference. He doesnít expect to come face to face with the woman he never stopped thinking about or loving, but thatís exactly what happens.

Hannahís desire to discover the truth about Amyís death puts her in the middle of Rexís investigation: ďHannah was not working her way into his investigation, she had crashed slap-bang into the middle of it.Ē Eventually they work together to find the answers. They are also forced to deal with their unresolved past and with the attraction they still share.

In some ways, Melting the Ice follows the standard aspects of a secret baby plot. Hannah wonders whether she should tell Rex about their son. Each time she considers telling him, she changes her mind and continues to keep the secret. Fortunately, Hannah and Rex are multifaceted characters, which adds interest to some of the more standard elements of the plot.

Unfortunately, I canít say the same about the international intrigue. While itís described well and includes several excellent moments of suspense, the Plague Doctor plot isnít entirely convincing or plausible. Since neither Rex nor the reader knows the Plague Doctorís name or face, heís a shadowy and indistinct villain, one I couldnít quite visualize and therefore couldnít quite fear.

Still, in many respects, I enjoyed reading Melting the Ice. Loreth Anne White has an excellent sense of pacing and an appealing voice. Iím interested in reading her future stories, especially if they feature more unique plots and realistic villains.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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