Breaking the Ice (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: Breaking the Ice (States of Love series)
Author: Tali Spencer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 86
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better — until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.

Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?

In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart — and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Ice fishing. I love ice fishing. The best turkey dinner I ever had was made on a cook stove in an ice house while watching the Vikings game on TV. “Breaking the Ice” with a backdrop of sturgeon fishing on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago is totally in my wheelhouse.

For most of the year, Matt Wasko has to deal with “gay-bashing, corn-fed” homophobic idiots who comment on his glittery balls (bowling, that is), rainbow shoelaces and the beer he drinks with a unicorn on the label. But for two weeks every February, Matt goes ice fishing in the cozy ice shanty he and his grandpa built, surrounded by a community of friends (including Babe, the Grill Master, “capable of grilling seven kinds of meat at the same time on three grills”), beautiful sunrises and sunsets, augers, sturgeon spears, and lots and lots of beer:

On the ice, out on the lake, here in this house of memories, only then did he feel completely free of other people’s definitions. College boy. Management. Short. Young. Cute. Gay. He was a Wasko and a fisherman, dammit, and come Saturday he was going to join his people.

I loved the community that Tali Spencer creates in this story – you could probably go to any small town bar in Wisconsin and meet folks just like them – and liked how the relationship between Matt and John develops. There’s only a few sex scenes – and they’re more steam than red-hot sizzle – but they fit perfectly into this quirky heart-felt story. It’s sweet and funny as all get-out, and I suggest you make some Wisconsin brats (boil ’em in butter and beer and throw ’em on the grill) and dig into “Breaking the Ice” – 4.5 stars!

States of Love series

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Galley copy of Breaking the Ice provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader