Harlequin Presents #380
***Spoiler alert ***
Frozen Fire was one of the strangest Harlequin Presents I’ve ever read. It’s not Charlotte Lamb’s worst, by any means; actually it’s quite well-written and if it was a two-part story I would have loved it. But as it stands, the book focuses way too much on Helen’s relationship with her emotionally abusive husband and not with the hero.
Helen has been married to Paul for many years and he’s cheated on her repeatedly. They’ve had to move various times whenever his affairs have caused too much trouble wherever they’re living. So here they are, yet again, in a new town with a new job for Paul, and Helen is sticking around, but she’s not sleeping with her husband. Still, she’s faithful to Paul even if he isn’t because she’s the kind of person who keeps her vows even though her husband doesn’t. Plus, he’s super, super hot.
The man treats her like crap, but he’s SO good-looking she won’t divorce him.
Enter Paul’s boss, Mark. There is a strong attraction present, and when Mark realizes what’s going on in Helen’s marriage, he pursues her with a vengeance. Mark’s a great character: a wonderful man who’s dominant but sensitive. The problem is he’s always on the fringes. Paul, not Mark, is the main guy in this story.
It was unsettling how Helen so was committed to her terrible marriage. She was the ultimate martyr and refused to divorce her adulterous, emotionally abusive husband.
The Unsatisfying Ending
But it’s the end that’s REALLY bizarre.
Helen finally falls in love with Mark and spends Christmas with his family. At last, she realizes her marriage is over. But there’s no major declaration of love and no showdown between husband, wife, and potential lover.
What happens is this:
Helen and Mark walk home together on Boxing Day. Paul, in an angry fit, tries to run Mark over with his horse. The horse bolts, and Paul is thrown and killed.
“Helen looked at Paul, her ears hearing nothing more. She put out a shaking hand to stroke back the smooth golden hair from his damp forehead. He lay so still and tranquil in the cold wintry light, all the glitter of sunlight in his hair as it gleamed. His face had smoothed out into beauty again, as it did when he slept. Paul was beautiful, Helen thought, gazing down at him. He would always be beautiful now. The slow stain which had begun to eat up that beauty had been halted forever. All that Paul could have been lay in that peaceful face. The ruin of his life was now behind him. Helen put her hands to her face and wept.”
That’s the grand finale to Helen and Mark‘s love story? What an awful way to end a romance novel!
Final Analysis of A Frozen Fire
Nevertheless, despite its odd qualities, A Frozen Fire was not a tedious read and it did keep my interest. So for that reason, I rate it a tepid three stars. The wonderful hero and the unusual circumstances surrounding the Helen’s life were intriguing. However this romance was not handled in the most logical manner with a satisfactory conclusion that comforted the reader with a pleasing HEA.