Survival Instincts, #1
Heat Factor: There’s only one sleeping bag!
But most of the heat comes from kisses because it’s too cold to actually remove clothing. (Don’t worry! There’s still danger banging!)
Character Chemistry: It’s amazing what stripping away everything but survival will do for a couple.
Plot: Trek across Antarctica in the winter while being chased by scary bad guys.
Overall: Starts with a bang, ends with…less of a bang.
When she recommended Whiteout to me, Miss Bates said it was the coldest book she’d ever read, and I agree with that assessment. Like, we’re in freeze to death territory here.
The cold is what makes this book so good. Because we’re in full-on survivalist mode, the stakes are really high—even without the truly chilling suspense plot.
Whiteout opens with a bang, and then quickly ratchets up the tension. We’re at an Antarctic research station. Angel is the cook; Ford is a scientist. But the day the summer crew heads home, the bad guys strike—they steal some ice cores, smash everything at the station, blow up the power supply, and leave. Angel witnesses some of the shenanigans and is locked in an ice cave; Ford happens to have been out in the field checking on his drills when it all goes down and is left to die. Since there’s no power and no communications infrastructure, Angel and Ford pack up a sled and start trekking across the ice, attempting to reach another research station for help. And of course, the bad guys quickly realize that Angel and Ford have the correct cores, so it’s a survivalist manhunt.
For the first two-thirds of the book, I was utterly gripped by the story. Anders does a great job of building the external tension (frozen wasteland! evil bad guys!) with the quieter tension between Ford and Angel as they balance emotional self-preservation with attraction with the fact that they might literally die at any moment. It’s so great.
Unfortunately, once they’re off the ice, things fall apart a bit. The stakes in the evil plot seem to be ratcheting up (lots of explosions, kidnappings, etc), but because we’ve moved out of the very narrow space of Angel and Ford and the tent and the ice, it feels less tense and exciting.
Despite a slightly droopy ending, this was still a solid romantic suspense. And if you’re feeling the need for something cold, you can’t beat Antarctica.
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