Hot as Ice by Merline Lovelace was first posted at The Romance Reader in 2002. Back then I rated it 3-Hearts (C Grade) with a MPAA sensuality rating of "PG-13."
Major Charles Stone has been missing since his plane went down over Soviet airspace in 1956. Imagine the government’s surprise when Stone literally resurfaces encased in a block of ice! Not wanting to muddy relations with newfound allies, the OMEGA team is called into action. OMEGA is a top-secret government agency with highly trained operatives - operatives that tend to be called in as a last resort when crisis is afoot. They dispatch biologist Diana Remington to get the goods on Stone. Her objective is to restore him, and debrief him on why his plane went down.
Diana is witness to a scientific marvel when Major Stone is revived, and shows little effect from his years under deep freeze. The trick is to keep him concealed, get him to trust her, and gently ease him back into a society that is light years beyond 1956. It’s easier said than done though, as Diana knows immediately that her objectivity is slipping under the heated gaze of Charles Stone.
Enjoyment of this lasted entry in the Code Name: Danger series hinges on the reader swallowing the whole “Iceman” angle. I was willing to suspend belief somewhat, but was unable to wholly let myself go. The scenes when Charles is first revived provide the reader with a certain amount of hope, as the author does a good job of portraying what it was like to be a pilot during the Cold War. Charles wakes up, fiercely protecting what he knows, thinking that the people who have found him could very well be KGB agents trying to brainwash him.
However, he’s in for a bit of shock when it comes to Diana. When it comes to women’s liberation, Charles is the classic fish out of water. Diana doesn’t cook? She doesn’t wear a bra? However, her being a doctor, not to mention a biologist doesn’t seem to faze him.
Diana finds herself warming up to Charles mainly because she begins to feel sorry for him. Here’s a man who has missed out on half of his life, with no family left, and many friends dead. There is also the issue of Diana being involved with another man, and Charles once having been engaged to an army nurse. These issues are briefly explored, and dropped entirely once the story reaches the climax.
While I liked Diana and Charles, my skepticism of the “Iceman” angle, and my desire for more background exploration left me lukewarm. That said, I did finish Hot As Ice in one morning, and found the premise of a top-secret government agency like OMEGA an appealing one. Readers who enjoy military themes, or have followed this series will likely enjoy a return visit regardless.
Wendy Looks Back: Back in the day Harlequin would (occasionally) squeak through with a completely banana-pants plot for a romance - oh, like military heroes found frozen in a giant block of ice. Makes secret babies and amnesia look almost quaint, doesn't it?
Also, I obviously was completely oblivious at the time - but DIANA AND CHARLES?!?!? If that name combo wasn't outlawed in Romancelandia in 1981, it definitely should have been by 2002.
Lovelace had a 20+ year career in the US Air Force and retired as a Colonel. She's written a bazillion books and is still writing today, for a variety of Harlequin lines.