Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert
Series: Frozen Hearts, #2
Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Release Date (Print & Ebook): eBook June 3, 2019 / Print MMP June 25, 2019
Length (Print & Ebook): approx. 105,000 words / 400 pages
Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Warnings: NO TRIGGER WARNINGS IN THIS BOOK.
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I’ve read almost everything Annabeth Albert has written. I started with “Status Update”, the first book in her #gaymers series (more on that in a moment). Once that series was finished, I moved into her Portland Heat series, then the first few books of “Out of Uniform.” I love her writing and her characters. Unfortunately, time being what it is, and that fact that I don’t have a lot of it anymore, means that I don’t always get to read as much as I want. So when one of her books is offered up for review, I jump at it.
Her latest series, of which this is the second book, takes place in the Alaskan wilderness. After reading the first one, I had some idea what to expect, as well as some of her other series, I had a pretty good idea what to expect.
Her scenery is gorgeous. Beautiful enough to make me want to visit…
…as long as the plane doesn’t crash.
You can’t really blame Rueben for being reluctant to go on a vacation that involves hiking and nature and the like when you’re more accustom to the hustle and bustle of city life. He’s more about business than he is casual. But after being convinced by his friend Craig (who was also supposed to go on the trip but had to back out at the last second), he opts to go. He has some decisions to make about his life and career, after all. And another birthday.
Toby is Rueben’s tour guide on this little adventure. He’s got the hots for his client, but doesn’t think there’s a snowballs chance in…well…you know, that anything will happen. Plus, he has his own things to worry about, like his father’s health and his sisters education.
Bad weather and one plane crash later, and Rueben has almost an epiphany, of sorts. In many ways, this book is about him loosening up, unplugging himself from his laptop and cell phone.
Ironically, Rueben’s daughter is constantly gaming on her laptop. I don’t want to give anything, but there’s a direct link between what Amelia does in her free time and some of Annabeth’s earlier work. I might have gotten a little giddy.
While Rueben is having his epiphanies, Toby is stressed beyond believe. Mounting bills from all sides and no income will do that to a guy.
And here is where the book really shines. Both characters need to learn how to do the same thing, loosen up, but for dramatically different reasons. This is also what draws them together, at least partially. Learning the same lessons is what puts them in even footing so that the difference in their age isn’t a thing. At least for them. Others connected to them, well….
Annabeth has another fine addition to her expanding universe. And I use that term on purpose. Because while these series may be completely separate entities, some even taking place in different parts of the world, there’s plenty of connective tissue. Her work has a signature style that I truly enjoy.
Reuben had been a morning person most of his life, so even with the time change screwing with his sleep, he was up and ready at the appointed time to meet his guide. His far too young and far too talkative guide. His wish for a silent guide had died a quick, brutal death the moment he’d met Toby, who was the sort of guy who clearly styled himself as a charmer, what with his smooth delivery and easy, joking manner.
His eyes though told a different story, dark brown with a sort of emotional depth that Reuben usually associated with people twice the guy’s age, the type of thing one only got with a lot of lived experience. The contrast between his intense eyes and casual demeanor intrigued Reuben, way more than it should. He’d learned his lesson with Dan—younger men were trouble he didn’t need, and Craig’s encouragement to chat up the tour guide hardly applied here. Reuben wasn’t going to have much in common with the guy as it was, and having watched Toby flirt shamelessly with the young female tourist at the bar, he could pretty much predict that the guy was straight.
No, better he just concentrate on making it through the week, use it as chance to get caught up on reading he’d been putting off. To that end, he kept his phone out, intending to do a last-minute email check from the hotel lobby while waiting for the guide to show. But Toby surprised him by already being in the lobby, two cups of coffee in his hands. He held one out to Reuben, cream and sweetener packets balanced on the lid.
“Morning. You said coffee, but I wasn’t sure how you took it.” Toby’s grin was way too wide for the early hour. His dark hair was damp, like he’d rushed a shower, and he wore another polo with the logo of the company he worked for—last night’s navy, today’s reddish orange. He was probably somewhere around thirty, so not a kid, but still, Reuben felt a little guilty admiring the way the shirt clung to his broad shoulders and lean torso.
About Annabeth Albert:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
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