About the book
My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM
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.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Publisher’s Note: Arctic Sun deals with topics some readers may find difficult, including sobriety and eating disorders.
I received a free copy through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
I have heard a lot of good things about this author and when I saw the tour invite for this book come in I jumped on the chance to read it. I really like the set-up for this book and the fact that it takes place in Alaska appealed to me too. When reading the book tough it really took me a while to full get invested in the story. Later on it got a lot better and I enjoyed the story more.
Arctic Sun was very good in places and failed to capture and keep my attention in others. It’s quite confusing actually. I really struggled through the first part, I liked the set-up, with them meeting during the tour, but the story didn’t grip me as much. I am not even sure exactly why, it’s not like nothing was happening, but it felt very slow somehow and I even shortly considered DNF’ing it as there was just something missing for me. I feel like this book was two parts: the tour part and then the second half of after the tour. The first half didn’t fully work for me, but I enjoyed the second half a lot more. And the second half seemed to go by a lot faster.
Griffin and River have this instant attraction when they meet. Griffin is the wildlife guide for the tour and River is one of the clients who goes on the tour. Besides them there are some other side character we get to meet, the author did a good job giving a feel for them, but they’re mostly there for fill-up and disappear completely in the second half. Which makes sense, but it still felt a bit weird and only adds to the feel of two distinct halves. And in the second half other side characters play more of a role.
Griffin is a bit bit gruff and distant at first, he doesn’t do tours or social interactions and prefers his routine and the solitude of his normal job. The only reason he’s doing this tour is for his family. He is attracted to River, but determined to keep his distance. It took me a while to warm up to Griffin, as he can be a bit gruff and distant at first, but I ended up liking him the best of the two main characters. I liked how his love for this place and his dreams shine through. He knows what he wants and is very focused on that.
River comes across as this cheerful guy at first. But behind his cheerful and upbeat personality is a whole more depth and struggles. I liked how River wasn’t who he seemed at first, while he had been a model and liked to look good, he also was well aware of how to dress when going hiking. And he has his own struggles with food, body image and negative thoughts. What I liked less was the way he almost pressures and teases Griffin into having sex with him. I am not sure why, but the tone of those initial interactions didn’t quite work for me.
The whole book is about the romance, but also about a lot more. The romance is a central line throughout the book tough. I struggled with the first half when it came to the romance as well. I didn’t like the tone of their initial interactions and how the progression mostly came from River’s side just didn’t fully work for me. I didn’t feel like this was something griffin wanted as much, even tough he was attracted to River. The initial part of the romance focuses on having fun and made up fantasies to get them off and less on the intimacy and connection they share. I just wasn’t fully feeling the romance in the first half.
That all changes in the after tour part and with them no longer being guide and client and exploring their relationship more it felt a lot more natural and coming from both sides. It also felt more real and serious, with how they both seemed committed to see how this would work even while for along time they believe it won’t, which did frustrate me a bit. I also liked how the second half had much more depth and intimacy to the romance. And there are some great scenes with the two of them and I liked seeing how they are by the end. Even the part where they run into some struggles felt quite believable and realistic.
This book also deals with topics like addiction and eating disorder. It was well handled and I liked the message of how you’re never fully cured of things like this, but you will always stay working with it/ recovering. These topics also mainly played a part in the second half, adding to the feel of depth and also more heaviness in the second half. It almost felt a bit weird how absent the topics are in the first half with only being touched upon, as I would’ve liked to see it being addressed there a bit more too. But at the same time it felt realistic with them having periods of time with doing well and then sliding back down again. I did feel Griffin’s struggle less than River’s and wouldn’t have minded seeing that explored a bit more. And with River I would’ve liked to see a bit more of the process after a certain event. But at the same time I also felt like it was enough part of the story already.
I liked exploring Alaska in this book and wouldn’t have minded a bit more description and bringing the scenery alive. But that’s probably as I love that sort of thing in books and in certain scenes I would’ve liked a bit more to help me visualize this country as I’ve never been there.
To summarize: Arctic Sun was a good read about who men who connect. I did feel very much like this book has two parts the first half which I enjoyed less and is more lighter in tone and the second half with I enjoyed more, which was heavier and had more depth and intimacy as well. I struggled a bit with the first half as it just felt like something was missing to fully keep my attention, I also didn’t like the romance as much as first as it felt one sided with how River tried to convince Griffin to have sex with him. The second half was a lot better with more depth and intimacy to their relationship and I felt their romance a lot more then. I liked both characters and how they have their strengths and flaws and struggles, making them feel real. It also deals with some difficult topics like addiction and eating disorder, I felt like it was handled well. I liked the Alaska setting, although in parts I would’ve loved a bit more description so I could visualize things more vividly.
The company liked using this modern, high-rise hotel to start and end trips because customers always seemed surprised to find such luxury in Alaska, and it made a nice contrast to the more spartan accommodations that would follow. The huge multistory atrium lobby was tastefully appointed in greens and browns and was about as far from Griff’s vision of a perfect little cabin in the middle of nowhere as one could get. All the high ceilings and metal artwork made his eye twitch.
A concierge who knew Uncle Roger on sight from all their repeat business helped them to set up a welcome table with a sign with their company logo. Al- most immediately two middle-aged women came over to check in, and in Dutch accents, they fussed over Uncle Roger’s crutches and his injury. Griffin immediately gathered that they were a couple—the matching red sweaters were his first clue as were their hyphenated last names. But his attention was quickly diverted by a…creature unfolding itself from one of the over- sized leather chairs in the middle of the lobby.
It took a moment before he placed the gender as most likely male, distracted as he was by a pair of the longest legs he’d ever seen encased in dark purple, skintight jeans. Bright blue hair topped a surprisingly angelic and youthful face, with an equally unexpected square jaw with the barest hint of stubble. A leather jacket that probably cost more than the engine Griffin had been working on earlier topped a T-shirt that advertised some band that he’d never heard of. Please, don’t let this be…
Griffin didn’t even get the prayer out before the elegant person sauntered toward their table.
“River Vale,” a melodic voice announced. Hint of New York to it, with just enough of the sort of lilt that always did something to Griffin’s insides. He wasn’t sure why he’d always been so attracted to musical voices, and this was an incredibly bad time for the libido he’d put in deep freeze to remind him about what he liked. His turn-ons were irrelevant here—he needed to be focusing on how completely unsuited for their ten-day trek this River person was.
Designer clothes. Thin frame. Delicate leather shoes better suited for a night of clubbing than any outdoor activity. High maintenance hair. Rich, floral smelling aftershave. Pants so tight Griffin seriously worried about circulation on a long van ride. Everything about River screamed trouble, the sort of trouble Griffin absolutely did not need.
About the Author
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. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.
To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.
There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour for this book. Enter to win 1 of 2 paperback copies of Arctic Sun + a fun-filled swag pack! Must be 18 to enter and win, open internationally. You can enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter below: