Like Alaskan bush pilot Cort McClain's Cessna heading down the runway, this thrilling entry into romantic suspense from romance author Rowe (Must Love Dragons) starts slowly but soon picks up speed. A mysterious caller tells Kaylie Fletcher that her mother survived the mountain-climbing accident that supposedly killed her entire family. Adventure-phobic Kaylie packs her jewelry, silk blouses and outdoor gear and heads north. Cort, hired to fly Kaylie to her friend Sara's cabin, wants nothing to do with another city-slicker woman like his ex-wife, and Kaylie thinks Cort's "an adrenaline junkie bound for an ugly death," but they can't resist each other. When they find their two best friends brutally murdered, Cort realizes only he can keep Kaylie safe from a psychotic killer. The opening chapters and later sex scenes suffer from turgid, overly florid prose, but Rowe comes through with crackling tension as the killer closes in. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Stephanie Rowe
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2009 Stephanie Rowe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe minute the airplane wheels bumped down, Kaylie Fletcher took one look out the airplane window at the snowy Alaskan mountains, and her stomach roiled. She couldn't see the beauty, the majestic dominance of the scenic peaks, millions of acres to be treasured and discovered....
All she saw was death.
Kaylie could still smell the tangy scent of blood. The cold thickness of a human body as the flesh turned to ice beneath her hands. The pressure of the harness tight around her shoulders as she hauled the body down the slope. Tears freezing on her cracked cheeks. Her heart numb with disbelief. Her mind reeling with anger and fury and pain. Stumbling with her broken ankle and frozen feet, alone except for a corpse ...
Kaylie cringed as the anguished cry blistered through her memory, a noise so horrific, so torturous, it could be nothing but the sound of a human screaming for his life in the shadow of death's brutality-
Stop it! Just stop it!
Kaylie yanked her gaze off the mountains and forced herself to stare at the vanilla-colored plastic tray in the seat back in front of her. She willed herself to concentrate on the scratches on the corner. To study the faded plaid of the seat cover.
Slowly the memories faded, and the freshness of the horror receded back to where she'd kept it for so long. Kaylie groaned softly and pressed her palms to her eyes. Her hands were clammy and trembling.
She should have realized the memories might resurface. She should have been prepared.
A hand rested on her shoulder and squeezed gently. "Are you all right?"
"Fine." Kaylie managed a tight smile at the older woman sitting next to her. Her seatmate was a weathered gal with silver hair, sun-beaten skin, and callused hands. The wrinkles around the woman's eyes made it look as if she were always about to laugh. Within minutes of takeoff, she had started chatting and hadn't let up for the entire plane ride. Normally one for taking naps on planes, Kaylie had been grateful for the distraction this time.
She'd barely slept in days. Left alone, the plane ride would have been three hours of self-torture like the flashback she'd just had. She would be forever thankful that her seatmate had thirteen grandchildren she liked talking about.
"You're fine?" The woman gave a decidedly unladylike snort. "You don't look fine. You look like you just stepped in a bear trap."
Kaylie almost smiled at the analogy. Almost. "No bear traps. Just motion sickness." She wiped her damp hands on the freshly ironed slacks she'd worn in an attempt to lie to herself about where she was going. Sweat trickled down between her breasts.
"Hah." The feisty grandma picked up the faded nylon backpack she'd been using for her carry-on. "Motion sickness, my ass."
Kaylie laughed, desperate to latch onto anything that might distract her from her thoughts. "Just memories. Nothing to worry about."
Silver brows were raised at Kaylie. "Memories, eh? I've a fair share of memories myself, and none of them ever made me look the way you just did. You want to talk about it?"
Kaylie managed a smile. "Thanks, but I'm sure I'll be fine." And she would be ... as soon as she was on a plane returning to Seattle.
The woman gave Kaylie a skeptical look as the lone flight attendant hopped up and jimmied open the door, letting the glaring Alaskan sunshine into the plane. Kaylie instinctively dug her sunglasses out of her purse and slapped them on her face.
"You take care, then, hon." The woman stood and strode out of the plane without giving Kaylie a backward look, no doubt already getting excited about seeing her family.
The thought of family made Kaylie's throat tighten, and the departure of her affable flying companion was like being stripped of her last vestiges of protection. She felt raw and exposed to the hell that awaited outside the plane. "Oh, God." Kaylie dropped her head to her palms. "You can handle this," she whispered to herself. "No one else is going to die here."
No one else is going to die here.
Repeating the mantra in her head, Kaylie balled her hands and gazed defiantly out the door at the blue sky. She inhaled the untainted air, letting its cold purity burn her lungs-untouched nature that one could find only in remote places like northern Alaska.
Kaylie much preferred civilization. Give her the hum of cars whizzing by in the morning commute, the dry heat rising off a hot pavement in the summer, or the soft drizzle of a Seattle spring. She liked the freedom afforded by civilization: taxicabs, cell-phone reception, and a warm bedroom to snuggle in at a night. She loved stretching out on her beautiful suede sofa with a glass of wine and a soft throw blanket, basking in the nighttime view of the sparkling lights of the city, a delicious vista that was a perk of her luxurious high-rise apartment building. Not this ... this ... frigid expanse of openness. The alluring temptation was only a beautiful facade for the darkness that lay deep in the shadows of this territory.
Kaylie grabbed her dove gray suede handbag. The choice of purse had been a refusal to acknowledge her destination this morning. So were her turquoise pumps with the jeweled toes. The expensive silk heels couldn't be worn in rain or slush or cold weather. They were designed for indoor wear in a life of leisure. It was the type of shoe Kaylie had started wearing twenty-three days after her sixteenth birthday.
Having stalled as long as she could, Kaylie draped her pocketbook over her shoulder and made her way to the door of the plane. There was no Jetway. Just a set of steps nudged up against the door.
More of a ladder, really.
Kaylie caught the railing, pressing her lips together as she surveyed the small airport. A tiny Cessna 180 was idling nearby, its red paint mostly scraped off. She shuddered and wrenched her eyes away, searching for Sara. Somehow, her deep friendship with Sara Jenks had survived that hellacious sixteenth year. Their bond had even endured Sara's move to Alaska six years ago, a land they both knew Kaylie would never set foot in again.
Two weeks ago, Kaylie's parents and brother had perished in a climbing accident on Mount McKinley. The entire climbing party had fallen three hundred feet into a crevasse, and the bodies had not been recovered. It had taken ten days for the news to reach Kaylie, as no one had known to notify her.
Kaylie had raged, cried, grieved, and fought to keep herself from sliding over that cliff to such a dark place she'd never get out.
Then Kaylie had received the phone call at three o'clock yesterday morning. One sentence was all the caller had spoken. One sentence that had haunted Kaylie until she and Sara had decided she had no choice but to find out the truth.
Your mother is still alive.
With no bodies found, it was possible her mother had survived the fall. And what about Kaylie's dad and brother, who had also been on the climb? Kaylie owed it to her family and herself to pursue the cryptic message. If she didn't see it through, that phone call would haunt her forever.
So Kaylie had made her plane reservation and headed to the land she'd tried so hard to forget.
Sara had promised to meet Kaylie and help her through it.
But as Kaylie scanned the airport again, Sara was nowhere to be seen.
No one was, really. It was late afternoon, the sun was setting, and everyone had better things to do.
Kaylie clenched the delicate strap of her bag as she began to descend the stairs, using her free hand to fish her mobile phone out of her backpack. She was two-thirds of the way down the steps and had just hit the power button on her phone when a man ducked under the nose of the Cessna. His faded jeans hugged his narrow hips. The denim encased long, muscular legs, all the way down to a pair of insulated work boots. His wide shoulders were accentuated by the thick black flight jacket that would be a lifesaver if he went down in cold weather. His collar was up, dark glasses covered his face, and his light brown hair was blowing in the flirty wind. He focused on Kaylie and his jaw hardened ever so slightly.
And Kaylie knew in that instant, with absolute certainty, that if she were going to die in Alaska, that man would be the cause.
Excerpted from Ice by Stephanie Rowe Copyright © 2009 by Stephanie Rowe. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book has so many twists and turns. Stephanie really knows how to keep a reader on the edge of your seat!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!
I would give this novel a million stars if I could. It has everything I look for in a book/reading experience. I took a chance, because I had moved away from reading romantic suspense and into reading more angsty romance novels. I was looking to switch it up, and boy, am I glad I did. It was refreshing to read mature characters think through their feelings, and the plot of a killer stalking Kaylie kept me glued to my nook for two days. The characters had depth, and though I can't relate to their life experiences, I can relate to their emotions and confusion as to which road to take. I instantly liked all the characters, rare for me, and I was pleasantly surprised at how stong of a character Kaylie is. Most female leads these days are whiny and self-absorbed, but you won't find that in thos novel. Fast-paced, thrilling, and sweet- all at the same time! I highly recommend this novel to anyone, man or woman, though not child for obvious reasons, lol. I hope there is a lifetime movie or something made from this novel- high praise from me, for sure, because it would be awesome to see the characters come to life in that medium. Millions of stars. Gonna to start Chill now. Luke...
I highly recommend reading anything that Stephanie Rowe writes!!!! ICE is a very intense read that grabs you from the very beginning. Very strong, likable characters and very steamy romance. What more could you ask for??
Very good book. Kept right on reading and didn't want to put down till done!
Danger, romance and suspense race through this book at a break neck pace. A sexy, rugged, Alaskan pilot with a past he wants to forget and a strong and determined woman who wanted answers about her own past and family are hunted and haunted by something or rather someone who wants the past to stay in the past. When they stir up too many questions the danger escalates and both may be in more trouble than they ever imagined. Kaylie and Cort's story is entertaining, romantic and exciting. I was drawn into their passion as they attempted to make a flight from the danger stalking them. Don't miss taking a chance on this one. I found it hard to resist this alpha male and his lucky lady as they aroused and captivated me from the second Kaylie stepped on to the Alaskan tarmac and looked into her reflection off the dark glasses of the steely man awaiting her.
Kaylie arrives in Alaska to enlist the aid of her closest friend to find out if her family really died in a horrible climbing accident. What she finds is something she, nor anyone else, could ever have anticipated. This first book in the Alaska Heat series is an absolute winner and readers won't be disappointed. Highly recommended!!!
Loved ICE! Great characters, wonderful descriptions – intrigue and suspense from the start. I cried for Kaylie, drooled over Cort, and the story-line had me on the edge. What more can you ask for? I totally recommend this book – Stephanie Rowe did it right again!
In ICE, Stephanie Rowe has really captured the beauty and harshness of Alaska and the fierce, independent nature of the people who call it home. Her hero Cort, is a native Alaskan, self-reliant, hard-core bush pilot. Kaylie, the heroine, has embraced her feminine, urban-living side after being raised by adrenaline seeking mountain climbers. Together, they are drawn into an intense hunt for her family and the person who murdered their mutual friends. Sparks of attraction fly from the moment they meet but both are haunted by ghosts from their pasts that invariably cause conflicts in the relationship. The terror of their situation accelerates the intensity of their attraction and accentuates their differences leaving the reader to wonder how they can every find their happily ever after. Rowe has masterfully captured everything from the challenges of flying and living in the unpredictable and dangerous Alaskan weather to her characters’ emotions about their current situation and the pasts that still haunt them. This book really has it all! I found it very hard to put down. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I feared, cheered and cried for Cort and Kaylie. I finished the book anxious to find out what comes of all the richly interesting secondary characters, too. Rowe is definitely on my short list of “read everything they write” authors!
During a family outing climbing an Alaskan mountain, disaster struck killing everyone except Kaylie Fletcher. She vowed never again. However, in the middle of the night Kaylie receives a call insisting her mother also survived. Although she thinks this is some sicko's joke, Kaylie needs to know the truth just in case. She hires bush pilot Cort McClain to fly her in his Cessna to the cabin of her friend Sara. Cort is attracted to his customer, but avoids her like she has a contagious disease as her city ways and wardrobe is out of his ex-wife's lifestyle of the un-famous wannabes. She also wants Cort, but knows he is an adventurer thriving on adrenaline highs while she is the opposite at least since the tragedy. They soon find their respective best friends savagely murdered and the maniacal killer wants Kaylie next. She believes only Cort can keep her safe, but even he has doubts that thet will survive against a surreal vicious psychopath. The thrill in this super romantic suspense is the cat and mouse war between a deadly predator and a frightened heroine who wants to hide but has no choice as her adversary is coming for her. The romance between the pilot and the family survivor is more of a detractor from a strong tense tale enhanced by the Alaskan locale that adds a sense of stark lonely beauty just like Kaylie. Harriet Klausner
I was shocked by how bad a see-saw ride this book was. How could Lisa Jackson have written a positive blurb about it? It was truely awful. The overdone thought processes of the characters was convoluted and irrational. I deeply dislike this book. The only reason i finished it was because i paid for it and i only skimmed it for the last half.