Fire and Ice by Carla Fredd
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-225-8
****
Arabesque/BET Books has reissued Atlanta author Carla Fredd’s debut romance, Fire and Ice, in conjunction with the release of a made-for-television adaptation of the novel. The film will air this spring on Black Entertainment Television (BET), the cable channel sibling of the publishing unit.

Holly Aimes is a very private member of a politically and socially prominent Georgia family. For most of her life, Holly’s father has been active in local, state or national politics. Her stepmother and grandmother are socialites. Holly’s half-brother is a movie actor and her half-sister is just plain cute. She’s never seemed to know her place within a family that is always in the public eye.

Holly makes headlines, too - but for all the wrong reasons. The media has called her “an ugly duckling in a family of swans.” Holly was the subject of intense media scrutiny when her actor-fiancé suddenly eloped to Las Vegas with a supermodel. Her betrayal and humiliation were played out in print and before the cameras. Holly has increasingly grown to hate “life in a fish bowl” and wants out. As co-owner of a security systems firm, she has plans to move to the new Seattle office and to what she hopes is anonymity.

Everything is going according to plan until an irate customer calls to complain about continuing malfunctions of his home security system that have begun to cost him huge fines for false-alarm calls. The customer is late-night talk show host Michael Williams. Michael has been voted “the sexiest Black man in America.” He has recently moved to Atlanta where his nationally televised program is produced. After two visits to Williams’ home, Holly and her team correct the problem with the security system.

However, close contact with Michael Williams has set off the alarms in Holly’s personal security system. There is a mutual attraction that both are hard-pressed to ignore. Eventually, Michael breaks down her defenses enough for them to begin a relationship. All is well until they begin to go out in public. Holly has flashbacks of her engagement fiasco and her self-confidence plummets. But Michael will not be denied. He has decided that he wants Holly and pursues her.

The chemistry between the two characters is excellent in this wonderful category-type romance about two people in the public eye trying to find a way to have a little private time together. Michael is particularly well-defined as a hero who is studly, rich and famous. The story of his upbringing as a gifted child in a “normal” family does much to explain his empathy with Holly’s plight. He’s an excellent character who is not afraid to show his vulnerability, inadequacy in the kitchen and his sense of humor.

A minor production gaffe remains in the reissued version of Fire and Ice. Holly’s father is referred to as governor of Georgia and also as a senator. This is one of many reissued romances I have read recently that reproduce errors from one version to the next.

After the 1995 publication of Fire and Ice, Carla Fredd produced two romances the following year. If Only You Knew, a single title romance and “Matchmaker,” a novella in the A Valentine Kiss anthology are hard to come by, but well worth the effort. (A Valentine Kiss is, in my opinion, Arabesque’s best Valentine’s Day anthology. The stories by Fredd, Brenda Jackson and Felicia Mason are excellent. I hope there are plans to reissue it.) But for the meantime, Fire and Ice is available. I hope the re-release of the book and production of the motion picture encourages the author to resume her romance writing career. She tells great stories and I, for one, have missed her work.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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