A Taste of Ice
by Hanna Martine
(Penguin, $7.99, PG13) ISBN 978-0-425-25725-8
****
A Taste of Ice is Hanna Martine's second installment in her series The Elementals. While it stands very well on its own, there were enough intriguing clues to how Liquid Lies (the first book) went, that it's now on my must read list.

Xavier is a truly haunted man, both haunted by the ghost of his guard at the Ofarian Plant that he escaped from five years ago, and also by the horrors that were forced on him during his captivity there. Xavier has escaped to White Clover Creek, Colorado, a small mountain town where he's found solace, if not peace, in the clean mountain air and his job as a chef at a local restaurant called the Shed. Xavier might think he's healing, but he's really hiding, pretending magic doesn't exist, ignoring women, eschewing any kind of relationship that he can, and throwing all of his passion entirely into cooking. It's a better life by far than what he suffered in the Plant.

Cat Heddig is a beautiful young artist, thrilled to be having her first art show in White Clover Creek. She grew up a lost, confused orphaned girl, but when she found her passion of painting water, an element she's always been drawn to, she felt like she was complete. She's nervous about how people will take her work, since it's such an intimate subject to her. Cat's also slightly unnerved by her manager Michael Ebrecht's possessive attachment to her and her work, but she knows that she needs Michael's expertise to get her art career launched.

Cat walks by Xavier on the street of White Clover Creek, just days before her gallery show, and she's surprised by the immediate spark in his eye. Then, she's just as surprised when his expression is shuttered and he walks away. Cat boldly follows Xavier through the crowded streets and finds the Shed. She makes a dinner reservation at the wonderful little restaurant and can't keep her eyes of Xavier in the open kitchen all night, and it looks like he feels the same way. Later on, fires of attraction rage between Cat and Xavier, while darkly magical figures emerge to tear them apart.

Such a great read! A Taste of Ice is a perfect spring read while the ice outside melts. Xavier is a beautiful, intensely sexy hero with just the right touch of achingly tormented soul that you can't help but want to heal. As Cat gets to know him, so does the reader, and his multi layered, deeply emotional story comes tumbling out. He's perfect.

Cat is a wonderful heroine, she's lovely, strong, talented, intelligent, and she needs an anchor. While she doesn't recognize who she is or what she needs in the first part of the book, it doesn't make her weak. She's a determined woman charting her own course, and she's fun to read.

Considering how hot and steamy Cat and Xavier's attraction gets, I would have preferred a more intimate courtship, but Martine's story clips by quickly, filling in the lesser amount of passion between our leading couple with action packed scenes and explosive twists. That's the only thing that I would have changed, that held back the story from being a five heart read for me.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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