Touch of Frost  - Jennifer Estep

"Yucko". That is the heroine's favorite word. And it fits, a bit. However, if I were to blurb the paranormal sleutheress boarding-school romance "Touch of Frost" I would say "Likable, but in the direct vicinity of 'meh'".

I feel a little bit like venting, but I am in bed with a cold. So, please excuse me for amassing random thoughts here instead of a structured review:

- English is not my mother tongue. Therefore I am always happy to pick up additional tidbits that help me to understand and use it better. While reading "Touch of Frost", I learned that "purple hoodie" is actually a composite word. The same might be true for "violet eyes", a narrower term being "my violet eyes". The broader term can be found sixteen times within this series' starter volume. Both can be used in sentences of remarkable literary value, i.e.: "So I just stared at him, my feelings for him so obvious in my violet eyes." The only way Gwenny could be so unwaveringly sure of the expressability of her Frost-Familiy-Brand-Eyes in PANTONE 261C is extensive self-study via mirror... or it might be that the author still has no idea how a first-person-narration is successfully implemented. That might also explain the long, long and kind of repetitive analytical monologues the heroine has in her mind - preferably in the face of imminent danger.

- Connected to the point-of-view is a lot of meta-information that gets dumped on the reader, which is either the result of judging the readers as being too dense to spot the author's applaudable ability to stick to certain paranomal romance or sleuthing-story formula on the dot on his or her own or it is a tell-tale-sign of parodistic writing. I tend to go with the first possibility.
Gwendolyn actually tells us "Everything about Logan screamed bad boy, from the thick, silky, ink-black hair to his intense ice blue eyes to the black leather jacket that highlighted his broad shoulders." A thousand things just feel "off" to the heroine, which certainly makes her investigate. But then she misses some important clues. And in case the reader has not just noticed that things are a tad too obvious here and the heroine has a plot-lengthening moment, she emphasises her own being behind: "I felt a memory stirring in my subconscious. Something to do with illusions. Something that I'd seen or heard or read or thought about in the last few days. Something that was important." Well, duh.

- In addition there is the "let's-have-a-paranormal-heroine-but-how-on-earth-can-we-make-use-of-her-powers" dilemma. In "Touch of Frost" it is not as in "Clarity" (Kim Harrington). But if the heroine would play her cards, or rather abilities, right, there would be no need for her to admit repeatedly that she is no Veronica Mars. Gwen, whose gift is "touch magic" - having visions when touching people or people's objects -, breaks into a room to find clues about a murder, but actually tries to avoid touching most things in there. She takes out a book with a sticky note tacked to a rather relevant looking paragraph, but a day later she has still not tried her power on it. Gwen's reluctance is feebly explained away by her fear of reliving horrible moments or learning secrets without the consent of people she respects, but in the light of solving the case - and the fact, that Gwen earns money by locating lost and sometimes embarrassing stuff - that sounds far-fetched.

- The heroine's "I-avoid-touching-people" strategy certainly works beautifully with the "Save-the-heroine's-virginity-for-the-last-installment-or-forever" rule most paranormal young adult romance sticks to. Gwenny is even of the unkissed sort and ohhh does she want to make out with the bad, but life-saving boy, but then she would compromise him by learning all his and his family's dirty secrets and probably his hot and dirty thoughts on top. Therefore she takes down her open arms in time, makes a double morron out of herself verbally, has the love interest's half-melted ice-eyes turn to popsicles and does not get a third chance in the end, because by then we have - just in time - switched to the moody-broody "I-cannot-have-you-know-my-dark-secret-and-my-utterly-ugly-side-yet-although-I-crave-you" part of the required plot development. Who would have guessed, huh?

That would be all for now. Before you say it, I have to bring it on the table myself: I cannot successfully explain what made me read a paranormal boarding school romance again after so many disappointments. Must have been the high average rating plus the enthusiasm of several of my friends - or my indestructable hope that Enid Blython and J. K. Rowlings cannot be the only ones who were able to pull off addictive stories set in boarding school environments.