Pros: Fascinating struggle for survival
Cons: Changes tone toward the end
Rating: 5 out of 5
Adriana Anders’s Whiteout (Survival Instincts Book 1) definitely worked for me! It takes place in Antarctica. Ford “Coop” Cooper, a handsome (but not entirely neurotypical) glaciologist likes being there for the wide open spaces and the ability to get away from anyone and everyone. Angel Smith, a chef, decided to take the job for the summer in order to get away from her train wreck of a life. Angel has a crush on Ford, but Ford avoids her like the plague–he’s awkward enough at the best of times, and even worse when he finds someone attractive. One day, something goes wrong. Ford goes looking for a missing colleague. Angel hides while she listens to a supposed colleague, Bradley Sampson, kill one of the scientists over some research that he wants. Angel manages to hide some of what he wants before he and his people leave, and she and Ford get left behind. Unfortunately, as soon as Sampson realizes he doesn’t have what he wants, he’s going to come back for Angel and Ford. Angel and Ford have to come up with a way to get to the nearest station–a journey that will take three weeks if they’re lucky–and stay hidden from the bad guys, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
This is an excellent novel on several fronts. It’s an engaging romance, in which two very different yet mutually attracted people have to feel their way through the growing feelings between them. It’s an exciting thriller, as teams of bad guys with guns go looking for our erstwhile heroes. It’s also a survival adventure, in which our heroes must somehow live and reach safety even as the Antarctic heads into its winter season. There’s more than enough going on to keep you occupied.
I enjoyed the romance. Angel and Ford are interesting characters, and their attraction to each other feels genuine and sweet. (Content note for explicit sex.) They can’t help but make a connection as they’re thrown together under adverse circumstances–the real difficulty is in working out what exactly they want from each other, and what they’re ready for.
The thriller side of things definitely works. There are teams of bad guys battling the elements as well, hoping for good enough weather that they can fly and use satellite imagery to help them find Ford and Angel. Bradley doesn’t handle the delays entirely well, while scientist Dr. Clive Tenny mostly hopes to stay out of Sampson’s way while preparing for the work he’ll do once he has the samples he wants and their mysterious payload.
The survival trek is also engaging. There are storms, terrible cold, and treacherous terrain. The duo is trying to take certain samples with them as well as everything else they’ll need to survive, and that’s a lot of stuff. The terrain both helps and hinders the plot by turns, and it’s quite engaging.
The tone of the book does change partway through; not all of it takes place in Antarctica. I think this is because the book is part of a longer series, though, and I’m looking forward to reading more.