Max Conway is an ex-Navy Seal who works half the year as lead safety diver at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Gay, and living in very close quarters with heterosexual men, Max feels he must hide his sexual orientation when he is working among his fellow divers in Antarctica. Like many of the divers at the station, Max drinks a lot. With a troubled past, he turns to alcohol more than he should. While in the US before he’s about leave for McMurdo Station, after a night of drinking he ends up in the company of sexy André Dubois. However, due to Max’s intoxication, they don’t actually do more than occupy the same space for the night. Max passed out before they could get busy and doesn’t even remember what happened the next morning. Needless to say, André was a bit pissed off and gives Max the brush off the next morning.
André Dubois is a French scientist bound for Antarctica to do research. He is the opposite of Max in that he is openly gay and does not drink at all. As fate would have it, he is paired up with Max at McMurdo Station and things are very awkward because of their failed hookup. But living in such close quarters, it’s difficult to avoid each other.
August Ice did not really work for me as a romance. I never felt a romantic connection between Max and André. There is some physical attraction but the romantic feelings between these two men never came through for me. The bond between André and Max comes from Andre’s understanding of Max’s alcoholism when he helps Max into recovery after something disastrous happens as a result of Max’s drunkenness. I wish the romance was left out of the story and this had been a story of two people whose relationship starts as a failed hookup and blossoms into a great friendship.
What really impressed me in this story was the unique setting and the author’s ability to create such a vivid picture of what Antarctica is like. I sometimes have difficulty envisioning an unfamiliar setting—and Antarctica is very unfamiliar—but I felt as though I saw the surroundings exactly as Max saw them. Also, I don’t know much if anything about diving, but that wasn’t a problem because the author does a fabulous job placing the reader right into the setting without overwhelming with too many technical details, yet just enough so that the sense of authenticity comes through.
While August Ice did not work well as a romance for me, I enjoyed the story and the build up to Max and Andre’s new relationship, I just felt it was more of a friendship rather than a romance. The setting was fascinating; harsh, yet beautiful at the same time. I appreciated the author’s ability to draw me into a part of the world totally unfamiliar to me.