cover image A JANUARY CHILL


Rachel Lee, A JANUARY CHILLRachel Lee

Set in a small, mountain mining town, Lee's second installment of her Whisper Creek series (following Snow in September) explores the pain and destructiveness of excessive grief. Though 17-year-old Karen Matlock died in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, her father, Witt ,blames Hardy Wingate, Karen's boyfriend. Twelve years have passed, but Witt's hatred for Hardy has dimmed little. Unbeknownst to Witt, his niece, Joni, is in love with Hardy, and she hopes to bring him and her uncle together by encouraging Hardy, who has since become an architect, to design the hotel Witt wants to build with his recently won lottery prize money. Predictably, this well-meaning plan backfires, and Joni and her mother, Hannah, bear the brunt of Witt's fierce anger and resentment. A subplot involving Joni's true parentage further disrupts this rocky romance, and Hannah's intimate relationship with Witt, though a touching side story, seems contrived. Lee's primary mistake here, however, is allowing Witt, a thoroughly unlovable and unpleasant character, to dominate the story. (Apr.)