Hide and Seek

In Too Deep

Kiss and Tell

Out of Sight

Seducing Mr. Right

On Thin Ice by Cherry Adair
(Ballantine, $19.95, R) ISBN 0-345-47579-8
Cherry Adair has written a whole series about T-FLAC personnel who try to fight off terrorists and kill the bad guys. Some tales have been better received than others. She has finally hit pay dirt with On Thin Ice, a taut, romantic suspense-filled tale with two wonderful characters who really do deserve each other, in the best sense of that phrase.

Sean Munroe was a pathological liar, womanizer and scam artist. But he fooled even those closest to him, at least for awhile. One of those he fooled was Lily Munroe. Lily married him, only to discover on their honeymoon that he went searching for another woman. She was going to divorce him, when he told her he had a terminal illness. The six month prognosis ended up being three years, with Lily staying as his nursemaid out of guilt and some misplaced loyalty. One person who made it tolerable was Sean's partner and Lily's friend, Derek Wright. Lily was attracted to Derek first, but his passion scared her and she ran right into Sean's more comfortable arms. She always wondered what could have happened, but used Sean's illness and then death to hold him off. After six months of mourning, Derek is now ready to get back into the picture.

Derek has always loved Lily, but chose not to fight Sean for her because he thought Lily truly loved Sean. He was never sure if Lily knew that Sean was out dating other women while they were married or if she knew about some of his scams. He was currently looking into one where Sean had been selling their prize bull's semen on the black market; what was worse was the fact that it was not the real semen. Derek was trying to discover who the accomplices were so he could get them all put into jail. Meanwhile, Lily has discovered this scam and she, too, is trying to find out who is involved.

The heart of the story is about Lily and Derek's entry into the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. Lily is a veteran of the race as well as a dog trainer. Derek has only run it a couple times, but he sees the opportunity as a way to convince Lily that they should be together. But danger follows them to Alaska someone is chasing Lily and wants her dead before she can learn too much about the semen scam. Derek is on the edge of a new assignment with T-FLAC, as they think there might be plans from terrorists to blow up some new early warning detection system.

Adair brings the Alaskan wilderness to life with the life on the trail, the cold, the weather conditions, and the adventures. It is tense, exciting and full of surprises. Just when I thought I had figured out the bad guy, another twist was thrown in. The romance is pure bliss. The sexual tension between these two leaps from the pages, and when they do get between the sheets, it is hot. But, it is also romantic and filled with tenderness.

Derek is definitely an alpha hero, but he also recognizes Lily's strength of character. In fact, this is one of the reasons he has fallen for her. He was looking for someone who wouldn't be threatened by his chosen profession and he thinks she is it. He is right as her response when she finds out is to think it is cool. Lily is his equal in every way. She is smart, capable and used to doing things on her own. She has talent with the dogs, can shoot and doesn't faint at the sight of blood after all, she is a vet. She is also calm and cool under pressure, another great attribute when someone seems determined to shoot you.

It is hard to know if some of these adventures are too far fetched for some readers. But for me, they hit the right note given the various threats and the drama kept me turning the pages. My heart raced when the danger was imminent and thumped when the love scenes asked for a thump.

I would offer one small warning. There is some graphic violence and foul language in the story. I do not think it gratuitous, but if readers are turned off by this, it is explicit. The R rating is also deserved more for explicitness versus amount.

Overall, I will keep this story and re-read it whenever I want suspense and romance captured equally well with two well-written characters. On Thin Ice is a thriller, a sexy romantic story and a tale of adventure all rolled into one.

-- Shirley Lyons

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