Fire and Ice, by Gaelle Cathy, follows the love story of Emma, a student from Manhattan, and Charlie, a glass blower from New Hampshire. Emma had been stringing along three very different men prior to her family’s temporary move to the ‘countryside’ and the fresh air seems to drastically alter her sexual preference. Sexual tension knocks down Charlie’s door when Emma comes by. And she keeps on coming by, for conversations, moody dates and romantic dinners.
Written for the lesbian Mills and Boon audience, Fire and Ice flits between character development and plot devices. Emma is the young, naive, ‘straight’ woman from the big city. Charlie is ‘handsome’ ladies lady, pleasuring town wives while being artistic, independent and brooding. Both have backstories that fill out as at the plot progresses, making both characters more likeable, depending what your taste is.
Gaelle Cathy poses the question “Does love really conquer all?” in the blurb of Fire and Ice. When I first read this, I thought ‘Yay, lesbian love conquering all!’ Reading this question after I finished the book really challenged me. When the family secret is revealed (and I’m sure some readers, like myself, will awkwardly predict the secret), everything you might have been loving about the loving feels a little off. While the controversial twist is unprecedented in a ‘romance’ novel, what bothered me most was the lack of confirmation about said family secret. Things are left a little undetermined in my opinion and I’d prefer to have had closure, either way.
Without the controversy, I would have enjoyed Fire and Ice as a lightweight romance set within a comfortable plot. The inclusion of the dark family secret crossed lines I don’t like being crossed in my lightweight reading and I felt blindsided and betrayed by Cathy. I feel Fire and Ice is true to it’s name, two very different elements mixed together with predictable results. The fire melts the ice, the water puts out the fire and neither plot wins out in the end.
If you are keen to see what all the fuss is about, check out Fire and Ice and test your own moral compass.