Don't be fooled by the pretty cover on this one. This is not a sweet and light Christmas story. As Barnes and Noble describes it: ’Tis the season for mistletoe and holly, Santa . . . and suspense... [a] breathless tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unforgiving winter–and an unrelenting killer. Oh what fun it is to read. And it is fun to read. The story jumps off a cliff from page one and the ride is non-stop as Gabriel and Lolly battle the extreme Maine weather, two meth-crazed killers, and their awkward, high school memories of each other.
Ms. Howard creates a pleasing blend of action and insight. We get enough background info to understand the relationship between the characters - their animosity and secret crushes as teens, the loss of Gabriel's wife and his difficulty raising his son alone, Lolly's changing family and the loss of connection to her home town - but in snippets between action scenes so the pace never slows.
I don't know Ms. Howard's history, but the authenticity of the storm scenes makes me assume she has lived in a climate that can produce debilitating ice storms. Living in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, I've been through a few and her depiction was spot on. It happened to be near 70 degrees on the plains yesterday while I was reading, but I could feel the aching cold and the pinpricks of ice pellets against skin, and hear the wind beating against the windows.
If there were any points off in this book, it would be that the ending was slightly anti-climactic, but it wrapped up all the story threads nicely and gave me a chance to catch my breath between the action and the end. Highly recommended reading for a cold winter night with a roaring fire and a cup of hot chocolate.