Remember high school English class? Your teacher said there were three kinds of conflicts in literature: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. self. Recently, though, I’ve noticed a dearth of man vs. nature.
Okay, there is the surprise hit Sharknado, but I’m talking about good literature, not pulp movies. With global warming, pollution, and overpopulation, nature has become that fat kid who gets beat up every time they step out onto the playground. It’s just no fun to pick on nature anymore.
Except that it is.
There is nothing like a good man vs. nature (or better yet lesbian vs. nature) plot to call up our primeval fight or flight response and keep us reading.
Ice by Lyn Gardner delivers that visceral excitement that can only come from noble heroines battling the elements and then having hot lesbian sex. Like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial used to say: it’s two great tastes that taste great together.
Ice tells the story of Alex Blake and Maggie Campbell, two talented detectives who supposedly hate each other after butting heads on a child abduction case three years earlier. At the start of the novel, they have once again been assigned to a case together. It is only supposed to take two days, but when a plane crash lands them in the middle of a blizzard they end up spending a lot more time together than they expected. Completely isolated in the wilderness, they risk death from injury, exposure, and illness and in the process come to terms with the feelings they have always had for each other.
I was hooked. Gardner is at her best when she is building tension— either fear-of-imminent-death tension or sexual tension—and Ice is full of both, often at the same time. But the story isn’t all lust and bravado. Gardner uses Blake and Campbell’s physical predicament to reveal their characters and to show how selfless the two women are in their growing affection for each other. When they finally get together, the sex is fun to read because the emotions are palpable.
The only part of the novel that I did not absolutely love was the epilogue. The epilogue shows Blake and Campbell in a version of domestic bliss that didn’t, to my taste, fit with the characters’ personalities. It’s a little too domestic for these tough, stubborn officers of the law. But that’s a minor point though. I read romance novels for the build-up, not the exact details of the happily-ever-after. Plus there are plenty of women out there who would think Blake and Campbell’s happy ending was, indeed, perfect.
I would definitely recommend this to romance fans. If your summer reading list is already too long, save it for a cold winter day when you can sit by the fire and feel glad you’re not stranded in the blizzard of lesbian vs. nature.
By Karelia Stetz-Waters