Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Icy Passage by Ann Gimpel

Book coverIcy Passage by Ann Gimpel
Purchase link: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance - iTunes - Kobo - Google Play

My rating: star starstar star

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame


Fresh out of residency, Dr. Kayna Quan opts for a tour in Antarctica. Money is short, so she hires on as medical officer aboard a Russian research vessel headed for McMurdo Station. Primed for almost anything, she plays her paranormal ability close to the vest.

Stationed on remote South Georgia Island for two years, Brynn McMichaels is eager for a change. When cultures of the single-celled organism, archaea, overgrow their bins in his lab and begin shifting into another form, he worries he’s losing his mind and talks with scientists at McMurdo, but they have problems of their own—bad ones. Brynn agrees to help. The weather’s too uncertain to send a plane, so he hitches a ride aboard Kayna’s ship and brings his mutant culture colonies along.

Attraction sparks, urgent, hot and powerful, between Brynn and Kayna, but her disclosure about her magic is a tough nut to crack. It doesn’t help that her dead father is stalking her. Lethal cultures, bizarre illness, and McMurdo’s refusal to let them land force Brynn and Kayna into an uneasy alliance. Will their fragile bond be enough to thwart the powers trying to destroy Earth, and them along with it?


Wow! Ann Gimpel, a new to me author, has written an edgy, thrilling, nail biting story in Icy Passage.

This story cannot be put in a box. It crosses so many of the romance sub-genres I have a hard time trying to pinpoint what it is. If I wanted to try to describe it, I'd say it was a part romantic suspense, part scientific thriller, part paranormal / supernatural romance in one. There are so many elements woven into this story to make a whole and unless you read it, you won't understand how it all comes together and it does come together. All these different elements to the story come together in a very cohesive way.

The story was a bit slow to start and most of it takes place on board a ship bound for the Antarctica. A lot of things happen along the way including mutating archaea. This is the science part. The paranormal part comes where our heroine Kayna has psychic and magical powers and the hero's archaea samples "speak" to her. Along the way, there's a dead father who won't stay dead and fallout as super powers go to war. Of course, once they get to the Antarctica which is where the archaea "want" to go to (did I mention paranormal?) things start to get really interesting. More paranormal stuff, more supernatural stuff, more science stuff.

A note on the science stuff. I don't know much about microbiology and archaea but what Ms Gimpel included in the book seemed well researched and presented in such a way it was easy for me to understand. I didn't really need to stop my reading much to go look up scientific terms to understand what was going on. I appreciated that in the writing since it meant the science did not take me out the story.

I mentioned this story was a bit slow to start. Brynn and Kayna don't meet till about 15% into the book, but of course after they meet sparks fly. There's some instalove going on but I was okay with it since there was a strong paranormal element going through the book, and of course, Brynn. I completely fell in love with Brynn and let me tell you why. He was gorgeous of course, but his character reminded me so much of my Steve. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking, oh my, you're just like my Steve and I even mentioned it to Steve and to my friend Bambi.

Brynn was logical, rational and a great communicator. I guess you need to be all those things when you are a scientist. He was open-minded too when confronted with the unexplainable - his rapid growth of feelings for Kayna, the things Kayna told him about the paranormal world, and all the crazy stuff going on with his archaea samples. He approached everything with a natural curiosity and logic, and when logic failed, he embraced the unexplainable. Along the way, he became a warrior and knight in shining armour. I could quote so many Kindle melting moments of the things Brynn said to Kayna which made me want to marry him myself if I didn't already have my Steve. He was mature and he approached problems head on. He didn't hide behind miscommunication or create false conflict by omitting information. My goodness, do you know how rare it is for a hero or a couple in a romance to actually communicate like reasonable adults and work through their problems? It is so refreshing to read. I love Ms Gimpel already for this simple fact and I sincerely hope her other characters in other books are like this too. False conflict created by intentional misunderstanding and the lack of communication drives me bonkers. At about 57% of the story, my status update on Goodreads read: "oh Brynn, I think I love you". I do. I really, really love Brynn.

As for Kayna, she's a wonderfully strong woman who is struggling with her paranormal powers and coming out of a mediocre relationship which turned south when she decided to take the assignment in the Antarctica. She was not looking for a relationship but Brynn hit her like a lightning bolt in the heart. I loved seeing Brynn and Kayna's relationship develop. It developed in such a believable way (except for the initial bit of instalove) and they related to each other in a way where I could see it happening in real life between couples. It certainly happens to Steve and I. When Brynn and Kayna talk or discuss something, I can imagine Steve and I having the same conversations. At one point, Kayna loses her temper and snaps at Brynn, then immediately catches herself and apologises as they continue on with their discussion. That is so like Steve and I. It happens to us a lot. I'm of course, the one usually losing her temper and apologising. :-) Kayna was incredibly brave in confronting things she feared and had put aside for a long time, namely her magical powers. It was great to watch her embrace her lineage and the abilities she was born with even as she as afraid of it.
Once they story kicked up its pace, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, although, the slow start might also be partly my fault as I was having problems with my eyes and was not able to read for very long.

I'm looking forward to other books by Ms Gimpel. Her characters displayed a maturity which I have not seen in many books lately and it was such a welcome change.

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Excerpt

    It hadn’t been just that night, though. Micah spent the next three days in the infirmary sucking bottled oxygen. When that didn’t clear his red blood cells fast enough, the doctors ordered chelation treatments. In the meantime, he had a chance to think, and he didn’t care for what he came up with. Besides, it was so fantastic, no one would believe him.
    Maintenance had given his lab, and the other three microbiology studios, a clean bill of health, which meant he could go back to work tomorrow. Even more disturbing, the entirety of the science wing where the dead women cleaned showed zip in the way of evidence of a gas leak. In the interest of thoroughness, maintenance had checked the female dorms too, and found exactly nothing. Autopsy was conclusive regarding cause of death, but no one could figure out how the women had been exposed to a big enough dose of carbon monoxide to kill them.
    The same was true for him—major exposure to something pigging up his hemoglobin, but without an identifiable source. Another few hours without medical intervention and he’d have been just as dead as Britta and Marguerite.
    Armed with that knowledge—and a phalanx of unanswered questions—Micah spent his downtime in the infirmary mapping out a series of tests to run on his strange archaea colonies. He had suspicions, but needed facts before he presented them to Jack DeVoe, the man in charge of McMurdo operations. If he went to him now, Jack, who had a Ph.D. in biochemistry, would laugh him right out of his office. And there would go Micah’s hopes of earning his chops, so he could go on to something more prestigious than working at McMurdo Station.




About the author

auAnn Gimpel is a national bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients, now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2016 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and wolf hybrids round out her family.

Author links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads





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2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful review. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and connected with the characters. I adore Antarctica, and I tried to imbue my fascination for that part of the world into Icy Passage.

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    Replies
    1. Ann, you are most welcome. I'm going to check out your other books.

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