Burn Zone Review

Title:  Burn Zone (Hotshots #1)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Published: April 27, 2020
Publisher: Carina Press
Readership: Adult
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of Burn Zone from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Introducing Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series: The emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smokejumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smokejumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring —is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, nevermind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

Burn Zone is the first book in Annabeth Albert’s new Hotshots series of books about m/m romances set against the backdrop of Oregon’s fire fighting crews. Burn Zone features  a slow-burn, age-gap romance and was  really great read.

Lincoln Reid is surprised to see Jacob Hartman, his best friend’s younger brother, amongst the new recruits for the season. Before his friend’s death, Reid promised that he would stay away from his best friend’s brother despite their chemistry and mutual attraction to one another. Now that Jacob’s a recruit, Linc feels the pressure to keep him safe while maintaining a safe personal distance, but can he do that when their attraction is stronger than ever?

There are a lot of things to like about Albert’s new release:

She writes M/M romances with a lot of heart and gravitas. Linc and Jacob have been through a lot together over the years (and we get little flashbacks to the past interspersed with the current day narrative) and we see their history and family connection from the very first page. They’ve both got a lot to lose (and gain) from their relationship and as a reader, I could feel the personal stakes for both of them.

The slow-burn, age-gap romance felt really well done. As a I reader, I sympathised with Linc’s position – he’s the older, more experienced (work-wise) person, who cares deeply about Jacob’s well-being. He’s also not sure he’s ready to announce his sexuality at large to the people he works with. Jacob, on the other hand, is more impulsive, more willing to push his own boundaries (and Linc’s) to get what he wants both professionally and personally.

I haven’t read many firefighter books (romance or otherwise), and this was a lot of fun to learn about things I’d never heard of, including the smokejumpers. Their work is such an integral part of Linc and Jacob’s lives that it’s almost a character on its own and it was great. You can really feel the danger of their chosen career throughout the book as they work through various jobs, and the reality that it could cost them everything if they make a mistake.

It was a pleasure, as always, to read another Annabeth Albert book, and I look forward to continuing the series upon its release.

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