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by Cherry Adair
Ballantine Books, August 2004
320 pages
ISBN: 0345475798

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lily Munroe has been burned, heart-wise, more than once. Her mother died in an airplane crash which Lily, then a child, survived. Her father remarried -- to a woman with a son -- and has been very happy. Her former husband, Sean, cheated on her on the first night of their honeymoon; when she finally decided to leave him, he informed her that the terminal cancer he had would kill him within six months. It took several years for Sean to finally die, and Lily was there for him every minute of that time. So we are dealing with a little baggage here. Just so you know.

One of the many ways in which Sean mucked up Lily's life involved the ranch which she thought he owned. Turns out that Derek Wright really owned the ranch and deeded half of it to Sean so that Lily would have something left when Sean finally died. Sean was selling million-dollar vials of bull semen behind Lily's back (and Derek's), and gambling on the Internet with the proceeds. Anything he won, he stashed in an off-shore bank account, which Lily didn't find out about until after Sean died. She's trying to figure out who else was in on the semen scam, and what to do with the ill-gotten gains.

Lily, in her copious free time, trains sled dogs for the Iditarod race. She has run it several times, and won it at least once, so there is more steel in her spine than one might expect from a casual encounter. She plans to race again this year, seeing it as some quiet time to think about what to do with her life after she settles all the Sean debacles.

Derek Wright is also racing. Lily sees him strictly as a gorgeous hunk-o-playboy, a man so sexually attractive to her that he scares her, but not a man with 'forever' on his mind. What she doesn't know about Derek is the side of his life not devoted to ranching -- the T-FLAC (Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command, an anti-terrorist black ops organization which seems to consist of a statistically unlikely number of his immediate kinfolk) element, which is concerned about possible Russian bomb-planters in the Nome area.

When Lily is shot at, early in the race, Derek assumes (egotistically, I think) that HE is the real target and the shooter made a mistake. When Lily is almost killed in an avalanche, Derek begins to think that perhaps Lily might be the target, although he still thinks he is the ultimate focus of the attacks.

At some point, the focus of the book shifts from Lily being in danger to Derek having to save the entire free world from a dirty bomb in the middle of a blizzard. Of course, Lily has to help, since she hit him in the face with her rifle stock and his vision isn't the greatest, and neither is his manual dexterity. He has managed to save Lily from gunshots, an avalanche, drowning, hypothermia, and I forget what-all else, although he does poop out when it comes to flying the plane at the end.

Did I like this book? Yes. The mystery element isn't the strong focus, although the suspense definitely keeps the pace moving right along. Once the terrorist activity gets bumped to the top of the list, the Iditarod is pretty much a done deal, so if you are looking for another MURDER ON THE IDITAROD TRAIL (Sue Henry), you are out of luck. The romance is much more important, or at least receives just about as much air-time.

And the sex is pretty steamy; I was hoping nobody was going to look over my shoulder when I was reading this at the lunch table -- it would have been embarrassing! I did get a little tired of Derek 'laving' every body part he could get his tongue anywhere near, but Roget's doesn't have many great alternatives. I don't know if Adair's other book, OUT OF SIGHT, is another Wright family story; if it's on par with ON THIN ICE, it would be an exciting, steamy, romantic novel with a large element of suspense.

Reviewed by P. J. Coldren, September 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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