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Hetty Malone remains home near Boston to care for her aging mother while her sweetheart, Dr. Michael Ryan, travels to Colorado. He's compelled to accept the chance to open his own practice with a doctor who treats tuberculosis, the disease that killed his brother.

Two years later, when Hetty arrives in Colorado Springs to rejoin Michael, he doesn't meet her at the station because he's fallen asleep over his medical books. Michael remains distracted and distant. Consumptive patients come to him in desperate hope and he can't protect Hetty from the ugliness.

Hetty tries to melt the ice around Michael's heart with her love and her optimistic belief that there are always blessings to ease the suffering heart. But soon the tragic situations of people attacked by the incurable, rampant disease begin to overwhelm her, too.

The research on the "White Death" which plagued the 19th century rings true through characters so impeccably crafted they illuminate the original allegory of the Snow Queen fairy tale. Ann Avery melts the heart. SWEET (Dec., 325 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger