Title: Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Published: April 2019
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism/sobriety, eating disorders
I received a copy of Arctic Sun from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Everything’s bigger in Alaska, especially the HEAs. Annabeth Albert kicks off the brand-new Frozen Hearts series with Arctic Sun, an opposites-attract romance between a rugged outdoorsman and a smoking hot former male model.
He’s built a quiet life for himself in Alaska. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the unrelenting pull of a man who’s everything he shouldn’t want.
Ex-military mountain man Griffin Barrett likes his solitude. It keeps him from falling back into old habits. Bad habits. He’s fought too hard for his sobriety to lose control now. However, his gig as a wildlife guide presents a new kind of temptation in superhot supermodel River Vale. Nothing the Alaskan wilderness has to offer has ever called to Griffin so badly. And that can only lead to trouble…
River has his own methods for coping. Chasing adventure means always moving forward. Nobody’s ever made him want to stand still—until Griffin. The rugged bush pilot is the very best kind of distraction, but the emotions he stirs up in River feel anything but casual, and he’s in no position to stay put.
With temptation lurking in close quarters, keeping even a shred of distance is a challenge neither’s willing to meet. And the closer Griffin gets to River, the easier it is to ignore every last reason he should run.
Annabeth Albert is an auto-buy/auto-read author for me, and has been since I started reading the Out of Uniform series, which I appreciated for the inclusion of military life and culture, but also the character and relationship development. Her new series, Frozen Hearts, is different, but still has the same focus on relationships and people, and I enjoyed reading the first instalment.
Arctic Sun follows Griffin – a former Air Force pilot turned cargo pilot and occasional tour-guide living in Alaska – and River – a former supermodel turned writer who travels the world for his books. Both of them have demons in their past: Griffin is a recovering alcoholic and River is recovering from an eating disorder that continues to cause him problems, and both have to come to grips with what the other is dealing with in their own way. They meet when Griffin has to host a tour group on a photographic trip around Alaska. Normally this job would fall to his uncle, a famous photographer, but an injury sees Griffin leading, and that’s where he meets River. Determined not to get involved with a client, River eventually breaks down Griffin’s defences and the two begin a relationship that neither one is sure how to navigate.
There were a few things that I had trouble with in this book – it felt a lot slower than some of Albert’s other books, like the pacing was off a fraction. It also went over the sobriety and eating disorders constantly which felt a little repetitive (important, but probably didn’t need to be rehashed constantly).
That said, there were plenty of things I did love:
- I loved how Griffin has to come to terms with letting other people in.
- I loved the development of the relationship between Griffin and River and the discussions the two of them had over control and being comfortable with each other. Most of the time it was open and honest and the two were very accepting of one another.
- I appreciated the miscommunication the two characters have in the second half of the book – relationships are hard, and it’s relatable to have people say things they don’t mean and to hurt. It was also nice to see both characters acknowledge that they had hurt each other and try to reconcile.
Another huge thing I enjoyed was the setting. Alaska was such a huge character in its own right in this book and (having never been there) I found the travel descriptions really fascinating. It really helped to create atmosphere, and set the tone for the book.
As always, I look forward to future books in the Frozen Hearts series.