Wednesday, September 15, 2021

#TBRChallenge Review: Whiteout

The Book: Whiteout by Adriana Anders

The Particulars: Contemporary romantic suspense, Book 1 in series, Sourcebooks, 2020, In Print, Available digitally (free on Amazon Prime at time of this posting).

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: It's set in Antarctica and has a whole "us against the elements survivalist" vibe thing going on.  I LOVE that in romance. It's a big reason why the grittier historical westerns are my favorite. Will the characters survive winter AND fall in love?  Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Minor Spoilers Ahead!

The Review: So I actually had a languishing ARC of this in my TBR and normally I don't read ARCs (no matter how old) for this challenge.  But yeah, here's the thing.  I finished this book on Sunday and the book I picked for the challenge I'm still reading and I suspect I may end up DNF'ing it - so I'm "cheating" a wee bit.  Hopefully y'all will let that slide.

Anyway, literally everybody and their dead grandmother in my corner of Romancelandia loved this book when they read it last year and here waltzes in Wendy with a "Meh, it was fine" review.  But I'm a big enough person to acknowledge that most of what left me going a big rubbery one with this story is very much personal preference.  Let's dive in, shall we?

Angel Smith is a chef who took a job cooking for a crew of scientists on Antarctica after her boyfriend did her wrong (oh whoa doggie, did that guy do her dirty!).  Basically she ran away, not that you can really blame her once her back-story comes fully to light.  Anyway, her assignment is up tomorrow and she's flying out, which has her a bit at loose ends, but also relieved since it means she'll get away from the distracting Ford Cooper.  She's hot for him but he's so insufferable she's basically filed him away in her "What am I, nuts?!" never, ever box.

Ford is a gorgeous glaciologist whose nickname "Ice Man" is well earned.  He wants to be alone darling.  Honestly he reads a bit like he's somewhere on the spectrum but Anders kind of tap-dances around that.  Anyway, he's also warm for Angel's form, but being a socially distant grump she hasn't exactly picked up on that.

The wrinkle is that some months prior Ford makes a discovery when pulling some ice core samples.  And being the collaborative community that they are, Ford freely shares and discusses his discovery.  That gets the attention of the bad guys who show up just as the summer crew is leaving.  In the process of trying to steal the cores they kill two men, nearly capture Angel, and she misses the last flight out.  Ford is out on the ice during this time and comes back to camp to discover the whole mess.  Now it's just Angel, Ford and the ice cores those bad guys so desperately want.  They know the bad guys will be back and formulate a plan to trek 300 miles across the ice to get to the next nearest camp - an abandoned Russian site.

I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book.  The bad guys running amok, Angel out-smarting them, Ford and Angel (who are uncomfortable around each other) banding together and having to ski across 300 miles of Antarctica to get to help - gimme, gimme, gimme!  As I mentioned, I really dig all this survivalist, Couple vs The Elements stuff in romance.  The romance feels a bit Insta-Lust at times, but it largely worked for me given the extreme circumstances and fight for their lives the couple were in.  So where did it run south for me?  Well, the ending.  Or more specifically, the rescue and series set-up.

Ford has an older brother who is somehow fabulously wealthy and runs his own Super Seeeeekrit Paramilitary Group.  Because of course he does.  Because it's a romantic suspense novel and all these guys are in Super Seeeeeekrit Paramilitary Groups.  Confession time, not a fan. I'm aware that I'm a girl who will read about Amnesiac Cowboys with Secret Babies, but this trope has always felt too "out there" for me. I just can't go there.  Sorry, can't.  Anyway, so now of course there's all these series baiting characters showing up and of course Angel and Ford end up signing on, but not before they take on new names and identities and everyone keeps almost accidentally calling them by their old names!  I mean, how good are you at your job if you can't keep new names and identities straight?  The whole thing kind of smells like an old school Bond movie - with the group stationed off the California coast, working to track down a conspiracy, and then you have couples making gooey heart eyes at each other.

And long.  Have I mentioned how long and never-ending this aspect of this story is?  From the time of the rescue on it just never seems to end.

You know what would have worked way better for me?  Two normal people who somehow thwart a conspiracy and return to "normal lives."  Normal people in extraordinary situations stuff.  Not paramilitary who-ha.  Sigh.

But I'm a mature enough person to recognize that this is personal preference.  Lots of Romancelandia likes this paramilitary "stuff."  Yes, I recognize that paramilitary groups exist in Real Life.  There are authors who have built amazing, successful careers on this trope.  I'm just....not a fan.  

So first half of this book?  Probably a solid B.  The rest of the book?  How many ways can I say meh?  For that reason, while I have a minor itch to pick up Book 2, I'm just not sure I ever will.  Your mileage may vary.

Grade = C+


Whiskeyinthejar said...

Ford is a gorgeous glaciologist whose nickname "Ice Man" is well earned. He wants to be alone darling
And then you put the icing on the cake for me,
Ford has an older brother who is somehow fabulously wealthy and runs his own Super Seeeeekrit Premilitary Group.

Who says any rating below 4 stars is bad or doesn't sell books because I AM SOLD, this is my cat-nip as much as it isn't yours. I enjoy reading reviews that have different likes, perspectives than my own. Seeeeekrit Paramilitary Groups in romance deserve some clowning and introspection but you'll never pry them out of my hands.

Lover Of Romance said...

Its always the worst when everyone else loves a book and it just doesn't work out for you. I haven't read these but I want to and I like the para military stuff so I think it will work for me.

Great review as always.

Wendy said...

Whiskey: Well I can hardly cast aspersions given that I'll read and generally love all sorts of wacky tropes in the world of category romance. Intellectually I know lots of readers love paramilitary groups in romance, I mean otherwise publishers would stop publishing them! LOL They just don't work for me ::shrug::

Lover of Romance: Well, you might really like this one then if you go for paramilitary normally. And now is a good time to try it. If you're an Amazon Prime member you can borrow a Kindle version for free ;)

Jill said...

Hmm, I think I might have bought this on sale b/c I'm not usually a romantic suspense reader any more, but I liked the reviews. Maybe I'll read till the paramilitary guys just show up and bail if I'm not interested? ;-o) I actually used to really enjoy that type of action plot, but I burned myself out sometime in the early 2000s.

I read THE SURGEON'S LADY by Carla Kelly for the TBR Challenge. A regency, but definitely unusual in that the hero was a lowly surgeon patching up sailors coming home from sea battles and the heroine was widow of independent means who is searching for a new outlet in life and becomes his hospital assistant. I enjoyed it, but lots of blood and guts and some discussion of battle trauma so not a light read with ballrooms and dukes (although I do read that sometimes too.) It's 2nd in the series, but I think it can stand alone. I'd give it a solid B.

Wendy said...

Jill: I really liked it until the last 1/3 when it lost me. Also, I feel like it could have been more tightly edited but I'm so hardwired for category romance I think EVERYTHING could be more tightly edited LOL

That Kelly sounds right up my alley. I need to see if I have it in my TBR. Pretty sure I'm missing a few of her later Harlequin Historicals and this could be one of them....