Ice

Ice

3.5 243
by Linda Howard
     
 

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On holiday leave from the service, Gabriel McQueen is sent into a brewing ice storm to make sure that his father’s distant neighbor, Lolly Helton, who has fallen out of contact, is safe and sound. It’s a trip that Gabriel would rather not make, given the bitter winter weather—and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.…  See more details below

Overview

On holiday leave from the service, Gabriel McQueen is sent into a brewing ice storm to make sure that his father’s distant neighbor, Lolly Helton, who has fallen out of contact, is safe and sound. It’s a trip that Gabriel would rather not make, given the bitter winter weather—and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly. Arriving at Lolly’s home, Gabriel spots strangers through the windows—one of them packing a weapon—and kicks into combat mode. But once Lolly is rescued, the heat—and the hunt—are on. Snowbound, unarmed, and literally under the gun, Gabriel and Lolly must depend on each other to endure the merciless forces of nature and evade the ruthless enemy out in the blackness of the silent night—and out for their blood.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If you want to whet your appetite for Christmas romance, this is perfect. . . . Guaranteed to keep your pulse racing.”—Tacoma News Tribune
 
“All the classic elements of a Howard romantic adventure.”—RT Book Reviews
 
“Linda Howard is a superbly original writer.”—Iris Johansen

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345517210
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/10/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
40,479
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The place never changed.

Gabriel McQueen actually liked that about his hometown, Wilson Creek, Maine. He liked the continuity of it, the security, the solidarity. He liked that his seven-year-old son, Sam, was seeing the town almost exactly as Gabriel himself had seen it growing up. He liked that Sam was building some of the same memories he had.

He liked the little town as it looked during the march of seasons: the budding of spring, the green of summer, the rioting colors of autumn when the twin white steeples pierced a deep blue sky, but his favorite time of the year was right now. The last few weeks leading up to Christmas were special, when excitement and anticipation seemed to grip everyone and the little kids were almost giddy from it all. He could barely wait to see Sam enjoying the same things he’d enjoyed at that age.

He drove his black four-wheel-drive Ford F-250 through the town square, smiling as he saw that every storefront was decorated with tinsel and twinkling multicolored lights, that the big fir tree in front of the courthouse was festooned with so many lights that it looked like a solid blaze that even the cold, steady, miserable mist of rain dripping from the ugly leaden sky couldn’t dim.

There was an empty parking space at the end of the metered row in front of the courthouse, and he squeezed the big pickup between the white lines. Jamming his weatherproof cap on his head, he got out and fed enough change into the old-fashioned meter to buy him two hours. He wouldn’t be there that long, but he erred on the side of caution because it would be embarrassing as hell for the sheriff’s son to get a parking ticket in front of the courthouse on his first day home—not to him, but to his father. Not embarrassing his father was well worth a couple of quarters.

The mist of rain blew in his face; the last weather report he’d checked predicted snow later on tonight when the temperature dropped. Ducking his head against the wind, he quick-timed up the courthouse steps, opened the double glass doors, then took the stairs on the right down to the basement. The sheriff’s department still occupied the basement of the courthouse even though the jail was on the top floor and the arrangement was damned inconvenient, but that was how things had always been and Gabriel figured they would still be that way when he died.

The sheriff’s department was the first door on the left. The door opened into an area filled with four desks, three women, and a lot of attitude. Behind them was another door, and stenciled on it was Harlan McQueen, Sheriff. The stencil had been done almost thirty years before, and in some places the lettering was almost gone, but Gabriel knew his dad was thinking of retiring—had been for the past five or ten years—so, as a thrifty Mainer, he didn’t see any sense in having the doors relettered.

All three women looked up when Gabriel entered, their faces immediately wreathing in smiles. All three jumped up with disconcertingly girlish squeals, considering the youngest was a good fifteen years older than he was, and rushed at him; you’d think he hadn’t seen any of them in a year, instead of just two months. Somehow he managed to almost get his arms around them all; he was a big guy, but three women were a lot for any man, especially when one of the women was pleasantly hefty.

Two of the women wore brown sheriff’s department uniforms; Judith Fournier and Evelyn Thomas were sisters, and their resemblance was strong enough that when they were in uniform and their hair was pulled back and secured per regulations, they were almost indistinguishable. Patsy Hutt, the queen of the outer office, was soft and round and crowned with snow-white hair. Today she wore thick-soled boots, jeans, and a wool sweater decorated with sequined snowflakes. She looked like the most benign woman in the world, but Gabriel had a very clear memory of her swatting his ass when he was about seven and full of self-importance because his dad was the sheriff.

Among the three women, they controlled the outer office and access to the sheriff, ran most of the department, and knew everything there was to know about everyone in the county.

“It’s about time you got here,” Patsy scolded. “I was getting worried, with you driving in and meeting this storm head-on.”

“Storm?” He went on alert, adrenaline surging. “I checked the weather forecast before I headed out; the rain was supposed to turn to snow tonight, but that was all.” That had been this morning, at a motel in Pennsylvania. Before leaving North Carolina he’d put snow tires on his truck because, hell, December in Maine meant snow. That was a no-brainer. Since leaving, though, he’d been listening to XM, so he wasn’t up to the minute on the weather forecast.

Patsy’s concern meant something, however. Mainers were accustomed to winter weather and knew how to handle it, so any looming storm severe enough to get their attention told him a lot about the potential for danger.

Before she could answer, the door behind them opened and all four looked around. “Gabe,” said his father, a wealth of affection and something close to relief in his lined face, and Gabriel tore himself from the clutches of the outer-office tyrants to stride across the floor. He exchanged a brief bear hug with his dad, they clapped each other on the back, then Harlan said, “I’m glad you made it. The weather is turning nasty in a hurry and I need help.”

Gabriel’s level of alertness ratcheted upward several more degrees. If Harlan McQueen was admit-ting he needed help, then something serious was going on.

“You got it,” he said as they moved on into Harlan’s office, which tended more toward cramped than spacious. The county hadn’t splurged on the department’s offices, that was for damn certain. “What’s up?”

His father’s sharp gaze showed appreciation for Gabriel’s unhesitating support and willingness to act. When he’d been younger, that natural inclination toward action—any action—had sometimes landed his ass in hot water, but as a sergeant in the military police, he’d been able to channel that aggression and decisiveness into the job, which was good for both him and the army.

“This damn weather system is dipping our way,” Harlan said tersely. “We were supposed to get snow, with the ice staying northeast, but now the weather service is saying we’re going to get hammered by the ice. They issued the storm warning just a little over an hour ago, and we’re scrambling to get ready, plus there’s an accident tying up three deputies when I can’t spare even one.”

Shit, an ice storm. Gabriel was on full alert now, his eyes narrowing, his stance subtly shifting as if he could take on the storm in a bare-knuckle brawl. Ice was ten times worse than a blizzard, in terms of damage. Maine had taken two hits from ice in the past ten or twelve years, but both times the storm had missed this area. That was good then, but bad now, because it meant there was a lot of weakened timber that had been spared before but would now be coming down under the weight of the ice, crushing cars and houses, taking down power lines and leaving hundreds of square miles in the cold and dark. Ice was like a crystal hurricane, destroying everything it touched.

“What can I do?”

“Drive out to the old Helton place and check on Lolly. I haven’t been able to get her on her cell phone, and she may not know this weather system has shifted our way.”

Lolly Helton? Gabriel almost groaned aloud. Of all the people—

“What’s she doing here?” he asked, trying to disguise his sudden hostility, which was the way Lolly Helton had always affected him. “I thought the whole family had moved away.”

“They did, but they kept the house for summer vacations. Now they’re thinking about selling it, and Lolly’s here to check things out and, hell, what difference does it make? She’s out there by herself, with no way of calling for help if she gets hurt.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Meet the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Ice 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 243 reviews.
Straitfan More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry to say but this book was awful. Whenever a Linda Howard book comes out I try to be first in line to purchase. After this book I will rent from the Library first to see if it worth spending the money. The book was mostly narrative and the characters were never really evolved. For all the struggles Lolly & Gabriel endured, Darwin & Niki were able to accomplish with no trouble at all. For the price I paid, $22.00 for 198 pages, I was totally disappointed. I hope Ms. Howard's next outing is more successful.
Voracious_ReaderRG More than 1 year ago
This is without a doubt the worst thing Linda Howard has written. I prefer any of her Silhouette romances (Diamond Bay, Heartbreaker, Sarah's Child, Almost Forever, etc) to this piece of junk book. It is truly an awful, awful story. I cannot believe Linda Howard wrote it. The characters are boring, the idea of meth addicts as threats is done poorly, the hero is marginal and the ending is terrible. This book makes the disappointment of Burn seem nonexistent. Linda Howard has always had great heroes, dynamic women and stellar dialogue. This book has none of those elements. Do not waste your money or your precious time on this terrible book.
Dee_in_NY More than 1 year ago
I love reading anything by this author. But this book wasn't one of them. It wasn't very long, and it could of ended a little better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the characters and loved the plot. Only complaint was it was more of a short story than a full novel. Its only about 100 pages. Would have loved to see the characters and story fully develop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would not recommend this book. Usually like this author but it wasn't what I expected.
RedWhiteSassy More than 1 year ago
Very short, it's like a rip off of her novella "Whiteout". I love her earlier books, but lately I have been disappointed in her last three books. Again read her novella "Whiteout" from Strangers in the Night, it has better plot lines and better characters. You will see the correlation between the two stories.
DLE1120 More than 1 year ago
Wow - hard to beleive that this was really written by Linda Howard. How could the prolific writer that brought us the likes of "All the Queens Men" have written something so boring? Very short story, more like a novella. So brief that I finished it in a matter of hours. The story was OK, but could have been fleshed out signigicantly. The entire story takes place within 1 night. Don't bother buying - wait for the library instead.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Broadway and television actor Fred Sanders delivers a chilling reading of this story of two people seemingly trapped in a killing ice storm. Of course, the setting is frigid but it's Sanders's professional delivery that takes the story to sub zero heights off suspense. Mystery maven Linda Howard has delivered a shorter than usual tale with ICE, but it starts off with a hook and keeps you guessing until the last sentence. Gabriel McCain was looking forward to coming home from the service to Wilson Creek, Maine. He liked his small town - it was solid, secure, and he was pleased that his 7-year-old son, Sam, was growing up in this environment. It was holiday time; he couldn't wait to see Sam and his dad, Harlan, the town's sheriff. However, his welcome home was brief because Harlan had a job for him - go out into the middle of nowhere during an impending major storm and make sure Lolly Helton is safe. The elder McCain hasn't heard from her in a while and he's concerned since she's out there alone, looking over the Helton house prior to selling it. Lolly was one of the last people Gabriel wanted to see but he could hardly say no to the sheriff! So, he went into a storm that even to hardy Mainers could mean danger and death. "Ice was ten times worse than a blizzard, in terms of damage. Maine had taken two hits from ice in the past ten or twelve years, but both times the storm had missed this area. That was good then, but bad now, because it meant there was a lot of weakened timber that had been spared before but would now be coming down under the weight of the ice, crushing cars and houses, taking down power lines and leaving hundreds of square miles in the cold and dark. Ice was like a crystal hurricane, destroying everything it touched." It's near dark when he arrives at the Helton home. Ever on alert he sees strangers inside the house, one of them is armed. By sheer dint of luck and courage he's able to get Lolly out of the house, but out means literally outside, trapped and hunted in an unforgiving ice storm. How could they possibly survive? - Gail Cooke
Buckie More than 1 year ago
I love all Linda Howard's books but this book although good was just a little too short. I would have like it to have gone a little further into lolly and Gabriel's courtship but it didn't. The ice storm and cold struggle and the fighting with the drugged out killers was exciting and the romantic scene in the bathroom was good but it all was just a little to soon. They didn't really have a lot of time to get re-aquainted after 15 years it should have taken a little longer before the love scene and boom the ice storm was over they walked down the mountain and Lolly met Sam, another bathroom scene and the book was over. I needed just a little more keep me on the edge of my seat writing. I still would recommend the book because Linda Howard is great.
Robynn More than 1 year ago
I love Linda Howard's earlier works but it seems her contemporary work has really struggled. This book was OK- I wish it were longer and involved getting to know Lolly and Gabriel and his son after the cabin incident. I dislike disaster stories/movies and the plot could have been expanded more. Three or four more chapters of them trying to restart their lives would have been so great. Readable? Yes. Forgettable? Yes.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Lolllolololol
Anonymous 11 months ago
loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure and just to let u know i will do anything for u *winks*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im so hard right now i say jacking off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Kayla rolled her eyes, walking out.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walksin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beautifull long bck haired vampire walks in. Her red dress follows.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey.how old are you?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry but he is my boyfriend......and yeah.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please continue!