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.
Here we get sent to the beautiful, yet cold continent of Antarctica during the summer months, where even during the summer it gets to subzero temperatures - brrr! I found myself having to look up photos just to get a feel of the breathtaking brilliance Antarctica has to offer.
We start off with Max waking in a strange hotel, and for the life of him, he can’t remember how he got there or even what he got himself into the night before. Ah, the wondrous drunken haze of the morning after. Then the room’s occupant comes in … it’s a shot of lust/hate at first sight. Only you can’t decide who hates whom the most. Haha! Max is so deeply in the closet and he finds himself blown away by Andre who, of course, is simply not impressed. He’s perfected the look ‘You’re no better than a speck of dirt’ as he glares at Max. Seems our Andre doesn’t like closeted drunks?
Then they find out that they will both be down in Antarctica, oh joys! At least Max has a good cover for while he’s at the station in McMurdo. Annie is Max’s good friend and closet girlfriend for while he’s down there. Annie helps keep Max’s secret while Max keeps her secret as well as the dogs’ “potential suitors” away from Annie. You can tell right away there is a unique but strong bond between them as friends.
Now the fun really begins! Or maybe not … Max finds he’s in charge of watching out for Andre and his student. Yippie! Oh wait, aren’t they supposed to hate each other? It’s quite funny watching them sniping at each other every chance they get, yet you can see this underling attraction that is just building. It’s really comical they way the insistently torment each other. In one moment they are sharing a beautiful scene underwater, then a scorching hot kiss followed by more glaring and grumbling at each other. Haha, it’s great!
It takes Andre swallowing his own pride to go and seek Max out. Sigh, they are so great together! Andre is actually perfect for Max. It’s also when we learn how Andre is more understanding and familiar to what Max is going through with his withdrawals. But you also get to see a glimpse of how much Andre has come to care about Max. There is this invisible string connecting them, forcing them to seek each other out – but it’s only working from a distance with them stealing glances at each other.
While Annie is an unbelievably sweet woman, there is one thing I hate about her friendship with Max. She stockpiles alcohol for him while he’s away, even knowing he’s borderline drunk. He carries around a lot of guilt, shame and humiliation for being the only survivor of all his buddies who fought in the Afghani war. She may worry about Max’s drinking problem but she’s also enabled it to continue. An incident happens to Annie where she counted on Max to watch over her (and yes, Max fucked up big time), and he winds up passing out drunk imperiling her. The subsequent scorn she deals out to him seemed a bit too harsh. An accident as a child has left her with a scarred face, now she refuses to speak to him, let alone share a room with him, turning from the very sight of him as if he disgusts her, as if he is the one with the scars. It puts a small tarnish on their friendship that is supposed to be strong. To me, they both messed up.
Max only seems to get worse, his drinking escalates and he becomes reckless; losing the respect from almost everyone except Andre. Andre keeps reaching out to Max, all Max needs to do is reach back. It’s heart wrenching to watch someone you care about spiral out of control, it’s even more disheartening to see those who are supposed to care for you look the other way. But most of the blame is laid on Max … can no one but Andre see the shame and guilt pilling up on his soul? It’s like all the people that should have seen the signs point to Max needing help, but they just vanish, turning their back on him. It is so sad. Max’s need for alcohol seems to boil over, creating more havoc. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. His guilt, shame and humiliation have him spinning out of control.
His only hope is Andre. I love Andre for the fact that he never gave up on Max. He couldn’t though; he understood Max too well. He knew what Max was most likely feeling, and knew he needed someone to care, love, and be there for him. I want my own Andre – though I might pass on the cold temperatures of Antarctica, even if it might be a beautiful yet mostly untouched continent. As much as I’d love to go to Antarctica myself, I’m not sure I’d be will to go through all the survival tests. But all the exercises they go through for the Happy Camper Schooling is insane, crazy—but hell, if it’ll save your life that you better damn well pay attention!
I give August Ice 4 stars. The struggles that Max go through are a testament to many of the struggles a lot of us go through in life. We all have something we wish to keep hidden. If only we had someone like Andre to help us break out of our shells. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it!