After a great experience with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor, I decided to broaden my horizons and give some sci-fi romance a chance. I’ve always loved Star Trek and Star Wars, and I usually limit my sci-fi enjoyment to the small screen, but when I saw Jamie Craig’s A Line in the Ice, I thought I’d check it out. I’m so glad I did, because it was action-packed and a sweet romance. Jamie Craig is actually writing team Vivien Dean and Pepper Espinoza, and, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I always have the utmost respect for authors who can write together without killing each other, since I can’t imagine that happening in my household without numerous calls to Emergency Services. However, the two ladies who write as Jamie Craig do so seamlessly, and the end result is a pleasure to read. If you look on their webpage you’ll see that they’ve published a number of erotic romances of many types, but A Line in the Ice is more mainstream. You can find this novel for purchase at Amazon and at the Carina Press webpage .
The novel takes place roughly 100 years after the end of the First World War in Antarctica, with a small band of soldiers from around the world battling mysterious creatures emerging from the ice. These strange animals first appeared during WWI around the world, killing soldiers and civilians and causing widespread panic. A small band of soldiers fought off the creatures at the time, but then was never heard from again. Captain Charlie Weller is part of the present day squad fighting the re-appearance of the creatures in Antarctica, and as the novel begins, she and her partner are fighting off one of the animals, only to see a man emerge from the ice. His name is Lysander Davies, and he tells Charlie and her companions that he’s a descendent of a member of that original band of men from WWI. He claims that the “monsters” they’ve been fighting are actually gentle creatures from a place called Illyria, another world under attack by a vicious group called the Aquorians. Lysander has made the dangerous journey through the rift between his world of Illyria and Charlie’s Earth to warn the humans that the Aquorians are on their way. But the more time he and Charlie spend together, the stronger their attraction, which makes the situation all the more difficult, since Lysander will have to return to Illyria in order to close the rift and save Earth.
What first attracted me to this novel was the author’s use of World War I as the time when the Leviathan (the large animals) began to come through the rift. Since the US had less involvement in WWI than many of our allies, it often receives little attention in history courses and as a result many Americans know little or nothing about the war. Choosing to have these creatures emerge at that time was intriguing to me, and the book didn’t disappoint. Lysander’s Great-Grandfather and the other men from WWI who drove off the Leviathan at the time became trapped in another world, Illyria. Lysander has only heard stories of Earth, including parts of Shakespearean plays that his Great-Grandfather had written down from memory. Unfortunately, Lysander has returned to Earth at Antarctica, one of the starkest spots on Earth, and it’s amusing to see his questions for Charlie about the other parts of the world, along with his introduction to technology his great-grandfather could never have imagined possible.
The setting of the book, Antarctica, was particularly effective, reminding me of sci-fi movies such as Aliens, since the space in which the characters move and interact is so confined and the terrain so unforgiving. The harsh cold and limited access to the outside world creates the feel of being cut off from everyone, which increases the tension between the soldiers and facilitates the growing romance between Charlie and Lysander. At times you forget that they aren’t alone, as they soon only have eyes for each other. There are only six soldiers in this forgotten defense against a growing threat, and Lysander’s frustration over Earth’s growing complaisance concerning the rift and the Aquorian threat is palpable.
My only complaint about the novel would be that we see very little of the Aquorians themselves, only learning of them through Lysander until the action-packed end of the novel. We learn about the threat that they present through his accounts of Illyria and what the other humans learned from their experience there, but I didn’t fully understand their motives in attacking Earth. This seems like a very minor complaint, however, since this was precisely the situation the soldiers in Antarctica faced.
I enjoyed the romance between Charlie and Lysander and thought this was an intriguing world. I’d love to see more about Illyria in the future, especially since it was quite the contrast to the stark setting of the majority of the book. When I asked the authors on Twitter if they had any plans for sequels, they replied that there isn’t anything in the works but not to rule it out either, so for now, I’ll have to settle for reading books from their backlist. I definitely recommend this one if you’re a Sci-fi fan.
I received a copy of this novel for review from the Publisher through NetGalley.