Treasure hunter Greg Drakowski’s last job went terribly wrong, and though he came away with the artifact, his guilt is big enough that he knows he wants out of the game. He will do one last job for a big payout and as an homage, and then Greg will be set for life. He can disappear and retire. On the trail of the Khlebnikov Diamonds, Greg finds himself at the Laurels taking work on the restoration team so he can have access to the building and hunt for the missing treasure.
Jon Ellis is part owner of Ageless Wood Restorations, and with his uncle’s fall, he’s behind schedule restoring the fire damage that ravaged the centuries old building. When Greg shows up, and shows considerable skill and knowledge, Jon thinks it’s too good to be true. What’s worse is he’s immediately attracted to the younger man, and that complicates things. It gets even more sticky when Greg clearly returns his interest. As much as Jon wants to believe in Greg, he has trust issues. And there’s something about Greg that makes Jon think the man isn’t being entirely truthful. Greg never gets involved for more than a night, but he’s drawn to Jon in ways he’s never been before. Their connection is so strong that they can’t help but finally act on it.
But Greg is in serious danger, and his association with Jon puts him in the line of trouble as well. Greg wants to do what’s best for Jon, but when everything comes to a head, he gives Jon the truth. The lies are too much, and Jon can’t deal with it. But when the danger comes for Greg, Jon is there to defend him. But with all their baggage, is their new found love enough to get them through?
This is the second book in the authors’ Salisbury Tales series, and it actually works fairly well as a standalone. I read Heat a year and a half ago, and while the characters and events from that book play a direct role in this one, all the pertinent details are included here. So if you haven’t read the first book, you could start here easily. But since I enjoyed them both, I definitely recommend you read them both.
Scott and Quinton have managed to create two engaging and enthralling characters. I loved Greg from the moment he stepped onto the page, and I really liked how his layers were revealed over the length of the story. He’s a confident guy who is a product of his upbringing, and he’s very good at what he does. The authors showed his inherent need to wander, his taste for the thrill of adventure, while also giving him depth. Beneath everything on the surface, he has a big heart and a bit of vulnerability. His backstory was intense and involved, and it was parceled out over the course of the plot, really helping the reader to understand why he thought and acted as he did. I liked that the combination of his circumstance and his meeting Jon were the catalyst for him wanting to finally settle down. One or the other wouldn’t have been enough, but the combination was perfect and I really believed he was ready for a new stage of his life. He read a little bit older than his 23 years, but that was due to his life experience. And there were hints of his age peeking through at times that were really lovely to see.
Jon is serious and dedicated, but with a passionate and loving soul. He has his own past that informs his character and his choices, and I loved how wonderfully consistent he was throughout the book. Everything he did and thought was rooted in his character, and that was great to see. I loved how his attraction to Greg was instant, but how he slowly had to get a certain place in his head before he could act on in. And man, did these two guys have chemistry. They sparked instantly, and it was a bit of a slow build until they finally got together. These guys definitely worked together, and when they got to their HEA I believed it.
At one point in the story, Jon calls Greg Indiana Jones, and there’s definitely a bit of that feel to the story. Greg is a treasure hunter, and his means are not always legal. I liked the way the pieces of the mystery unfolded, all the trails and clues Greg had to follow to find the diamonds and where and how they ultimately ended up being. Added to that the threat, and a very dangerous one at that, and this story could have felt over the top. But the authors did a good job reining that in, and though there was a certain aspect of “just go with it” to the plot, it worked on all the levels it needed too.
Ultimately, this was a really good read. Some mystery, intrigue, and danger interlaced with two broken men finally finding love. Well written and well-paced, Ice is a book I have no trouble recommending.