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.
Driving on Lakes
My new release, Breaking the Ice, is set in Wisconsin. Better yet, it’s set in Wisconsin in winter. Wisconsin in winter on a lake. A frosty, beautiful, ice-sheathed lake.
The ice on inland lakes in the Upper Great Lakes region can get two feet or more thick. At that thickness, it’s possible to drive large trucks onto the ice. Lake Winnebago, where the story takes place, is 30 miles long and ten miles across. To save the time of driving around the lake, winter commuters sometimes just drive across it—if the ice conditions are right.
Once the ice is thick enough, Lake Winnebago, and many other lakes, evolve a road system. Fishing clubs—ice fishing is a major winter sport—plow roads and line these roads with discarded Christmas trees for greater visibility. They also put out ice bridges to span the inevitable cracks that develop near shore. Knowing how, when, and when not to drive on ice is an essential winter skill.
Breaking the Ice’s main character Matt Wasko is an old hand when it comes to driving on lakes. His house sits on Lake Winnebago’s shore and he and his friends use his ramp to drive out to their fishing spots. Matt’s such an avid ice fisher he practically lives in his ice shanty out on the lake for much of the winter. His pick-up truck with the unicorn license plate frame is as likely to be parked on an icy lake as asphalt. To catch Matt’s attention, smitten John Lutz decides to venture out on the lake. For John, driving his car onto a sheet of frozen water feels worse than unnatural. It freaks him out.
John clutched the steering wheel with both hands and prayed for solid land. The road he was driving on wasn’t even a real road, just a track plowed across ice. In broad daylight, he’d seen it more or less clearly, but now that the sun had vanished, everything turned shadow blue, and the snow and ice had become indistinguishable. Wasko hadn’t been kidding about the way getting treacherous. Just minutes ago John had nearly missed the ice bridge that spanned the foot-wide crack between the shanties and the shore. Only seeing the shoreline looking robust and near gave him cause to celebrate.
And that’s not even taking refrigerator-sized sturgeon holes into account.
John could have used a few simple tips for safe driving on ice roads:
- Always have a fully charged cell phone with you in case you get stuck or need help.
- If you drive in the dark, drive slowly so you don’t run ahead of your headlights.
- Don’t drive in storms. Wind and snow can create cracks and erase roads.
- Don’t wear your seatbelt. Easier to escape. If you do wear your seatbelt, carry a knife in easy reach so you can cut yourself free if needed.
- Carry a ball peen hammer so you can break your window to escape from your vehicle if you fall through.
- Dress warmly to insulate your body should you fall in. Carry an ice pick or screwdriver in your pocket to help you crawl back onto the ice.
One thing to remember always is that ICE MELTS. As weather gets warmer, ice depth can become unpredictable. Ice melts fastest nearest the shore, so ice drivers need to be alert and vigilant about changing ice conditions. Every year someone gets their vehicle stuck out on the ice or falls through because they overestimated the strength of the ice.
It’s not possible, though, to overestimate the willingness of a man to drive his Hyundai onto the ice in pursuit of the man of his dreams. Which is what Breaking the Ice is all about.
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, including works in progress, check out her Pinterest boards.