I don’t recall ever reading a story set in Antarctica, so that alone was enough to make me want to read it. Also, one of the characters is French. Enough said!
Max Conway is a former Navy SEAL with more baggage than an airport. Since he was discharged from the teams, he’s been working as a safety diver at a research base in Antarctica. During his free time he either gets drunk, has anonymous sex or both. So is no wonder that one day he wakes up in bed with someone he doesn’t know. The stranger’s name is Andre, a French scientist heading for the same base as Max. Andre is angry at him for falling sleep before sex and not remembering anything after. So when they meet again in Antarctica and are assigned to work together, neither is happy about it.
Despite not liking each other that much Max and Andre are attracted to one another. The problem is that the atmosphere is homophobic at best and the only one who knows about Mac’s sexuality is his best friend. Now he must decide if he wants to give in to temptation, or stay in the closet and get drunk instead.
As I said before, the setting was unique, interesting and I was fascinated by it. I haven’t been to Antarctica, but I’ve lived in isolated environments with the same people during weeks, and I think the author did a great job at portraying the claustrophobic atmosphere that comes with it.
Max is the protagonist and we only get his POV. He isn’t a likeable character. In fact, all he does is screw up. He’s so engrossed in his misery that he is blind to everyone else’s struggles. But he’s so conflicted and in so much pain throughout the book, that I wanted him to battle his demons and get to a place in his life where he could be happy and have a healthy romantic relationship. I didn’t particularly like him, but I understood where he was coming from. I’m not sure if his character finds redemption at the end, or even emotional stability, but I want to believe that he’s a work in progress and that he will eventually become a better man.
We don’t see much of Andre, and I think this is the weakest part of the story. The little we see of him was enough to make me intrigued, but in the end, he was nothing but a love interest. I would have loved to get his POV, or at least more background. However, Max and Andre were a good match and I believe in their happy ending. But the romance and the character development needed a few more pages to fully shine.
I don’t think this is a book for everyone. I know that the reason it worked for me was because I found Max a nuanced, compelling character. But just as easily a different reader may find him an unlikeable jerk and his actions unforgivable. So I’m on the fence about recommending it because it’s a character-centric story with a very difficult main character. The romance is scarce and is not particularly romantic. I think it suits Max and Andrew, and it goes well with the setting, but again, not for everyone.
If you enjoy flawed characters and are curious about the unusual setting, I think you should give it a try. Just keep in mind that the overall tone is dark and the romance isn’t the main focus.
Note: see the cover? Navy SEALs --or maybe moody French scientists-- are so hardcore that they go shirtless in Antarctica. Boo-Ya!
Review by Brie
It takes a special kind of person to work in Antarctica. Max Conway, an ex-Navy Seal, loves working at the bottom of the world. Like any other diver, he's tough and hard drinking. Half the year he's stuck in the States traveling the commercial dive circuit and hitting gay bars every night. The other six months he's lead safety diver at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, reveling in the cold blue Antarctic Sea. The only drawback to life way down under is that Max feels like he has to tuck his libido into storage while he's on station, stashing all those free condoms for use back up north.
That is until Andre Dubois, a gorgeous French scientist, shakes up his world. Not only is Andre out and proud, he's sober as the day is long. And the days are long during an Antarctic summer. Max must choose between his comfortable inebriated closet and a life in the sun with Andre.
Loose Id LLC. July 17, 2012.