Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Everyone in Yuleland knows about Jack Frost and his cool aloofness. He keeps everyone at arm’s length, especially would-be suitors, for the simple fact that they cannot tolerate how literally cold he is from his icy breath to his freezing skin. Jack lets his acerbic words keep him socially isolated, even when he deigns to be around people.
Rudy Hreinn knows exactly what it’s like to be shunned by everyone. He’s long been on everyone’s list of favorite people to tease for being a reindeer shifter who appreciates his booze. When he bumps into Jack Frost at a bar one night, the two find a rare chance to commiserate about their lots. For Rudy, he definitely feels a spark being around the uninhibited, and sexy, Jack. However, the longer they chat, the more Jack’s almost caustic responses and Rudy’s self-consciousness become increasingly apparent.
Interestingly, just when Rudy decides there’s no way he’d be able to keep the eye of someone as coldly beautify and haughty as Jack, Jack surprisingly warms up to him. The pair end up spending the entire evening in one another’s company and one thing leads to another before they fall into bed together.
The thing is, Jack Frost and Rudy Hreinn are not only opposites in personality, they are literal opposites. Jack is part ice giant and Rudy is part fire giant. When these two come together, the passion is incendiary—and quite literally world shaking. In the aftermath of their intense coupling, strange events start happening. Jack’s ice castle is melting and refreezing, the frozen Winter Wasteland is experiencing a thaw. To figure out what’s happened, Jack and Rudy set off on a quest that takes them the edge of The Great Void where sacrifices must be made. When Rudy starts offering up pieces of himself—his eyes, his voice, his dreams—Jack suddenly realizes how much is at stake. Jack must act quickly if he hopes to help the one man who’s managed to penetrate his icy persona.
Between our two main characters, I was definitely more fond of Rudy and less fond of Jack. With Rudy, he’s easily relatable (for me at least), with his lack of self-confidence and easily being deterred from pursuing friendships, let alone romantic opportunities. Jack, on the other hand, just comes off as pretty much a Grade A jackass. It’s seeing Rudy’s reactions to Jack’s utterly unapologetic bluntness that help push Jack into mellowing out—at least for Rudy. That said, there’s not a lot of development of the characters. Both men do overcome the most paralyzing aspects of their flaws by the end of the book, but only as much as it takes to appease their partner. In other words, Rudy grows confident about his ability to attract Jack and Jack learns to chill out for Rudy and that’s about it.
So the characters, while definitely appealing in the descriptive sense and being easy to pidgeon-hole in terms of qualities, might leave a bit to be desired. As middling as the characters are, the plot provides enough oomph to keep things interesting. In fact, the only other Laine story I’d read was Boston Bauble Party, which was pretty just an erotica story—which is sort of what I was expecting with this one too. You can imagine my surprise when there’s actually a real PLOT going on here. Sure, the two main characters get in the sack together first, but that leads almost immediately to their embarking on an actual quest. Laine works in some side characters that are cute nods to some popular characters like the Krampus and Santa. The pacing is a fast-enough to help you gloss over the lack of well-thought out details and make everything feel like it’s reasonably well connected.
One element that was great conceptually was how, during this quest and meeting several guides during their quest, there must be a “payment” to each guide for the services they provide. I didn’t mind that Rudy always ended up making this “payment.” For example, the first guide wanted his beautiful eyes for payment. Two things, however, irked me about the execution of this idea. One: Rudy doesn’t actually lose his eyes, just their sparkle (pretty anti-climactic and thematic of the other so-called payments). Two: it’s never really explained why this payment must be rendered and, at the end, whatever angst factor was won by Rudy making these sacrifices is rendered moot.
All in all, though, this is a cute romp of a story that emphasizes the physical relationship between two attractive main characters with a pretty ambitious adventure thread taking up the last half of the book. In glorious guilty-pleasure style, I totally enjoyed how Rudy suffers misconception after misconception when it comes to where he stands with Jack, forcing Jack to (reluctantly only because it’s against his very nature) reaffirm his feelings for Rudy. If you’re looking for a light, adventure-y holiday story with a few spicy sex scenes and over-the-top bodice-ripper style angst, this would be a great read for you.
Note: This story is currently available at Siren at http://www.bookstrand.com/book/defrosting-jack