Review of HOT ICE by Cherry Adair (see her website)
Ballantine, July 2005
When it comes to jewel theft, Taylor Kincaid is the best--and Huntington (Hunt) St. John needs the best. The private anti-terrorist organization he works for has learned that super-Christian terrorist Jose Morales has hidden the codes for his secret base in a safe so secure that it's supposed to be unbreakable. Hunt needs someone to get him those disks so badly, he's willing to break a known criminal out of prison to help.
Taylor responds to Hunt physically, but that doesn't mean she trusts him. She needs the diamonds she stole from Morales--and isn't convinced by Hunt's story that he works for the good-guys. Isn't that what everyone says?
When Taylor escapes him, Hunt is desperate. Time is running out, and Morales plans a strike far bigger than 9/11, wiping out the entire city of Las Vegas in his efforts to eliminate sin and bring about the kingdom of god. It doesn't help that he gets excited every time he gets close to Taylor--everyone in the T-FLAC private anti-terrorist organization knows that women are the curse. Still, the two need to work together, which isn't a problem when they learn that they really are on the same side.
Heading off the threat sends them into a reconstructed mine in South Africa--a mine that has been transformed into the seven circles of Dante's Hell. If they'd still had the codes, it would have been merely difficult--but with only two of the five disks, they rely on Taylor's safecracking and Hunt's macho dere-doing to survive.
Author Cherry Adair's fast-paced style and steamy sensuality propell the reader through the story. I found myself, however, distracted from the story by the improbability of Adair's scenario and by the drawn-out misunderstandings between Hunt and Taylor--especially that at the end of the story. Morales's scheme for 'world domination' is hard to understand, but not nearly as hard as was a second terrorist group (the Black Rose)'s plan. The multibillion dollar transformation of a mine into the seven circles of Hell is interesting and consistent with the crazy but Christian Morales, but the whole disk and code thing didn't seem to work. If Morales needed the codes and didn't have them all, how was he supposed to get his army of thugs into the pit to face Hunt and his T-FLAC buddies? And how did the Black Rose terrorists get down?
HOT ICE had a lot of potential and it's definitely worth the read--but Adair missed too many chances to make the adventure and the romance more compelling and give the reader a bigger payoff for an oversized suspension of disbelief.
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