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
When a plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, the best place to land is in the arms of a younger man…
Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.
Just his luck.
But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.
As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.
Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.
“Stop making yourself sound ancient. I get it, you’re older than me, but you are undoubtedly aware that you’ve got the whole silver bear thing going on.” Clearly the icy water had seeped inside his waders, frozen his brain cells because he’d just said silver bear aloud.
“I’ve got what?” Reuben turned toward him, which made the water ripple around them. F*ck. Toby really was going to have to explain this.
“You know. A lot of guys your age get called silver fox. But you’re kinda taller and broader than a fox…” Could he really dig himself any deeper? “But…uh…still hot. You know?”
“I see.” Reuben’s voice had the sort of gravitas that made Toby’s insides tremble. “If I had time for hookup apps—which I do not—I should put that on my profile. Silver Bear. Like a fox, but bigger and hotter. Think it would get me clicks?”
“Dunno. Put a clip of you pronouncing wine names and it might.” Toby’s tongue appeared to have a mind of its own right then.
“That’s hot, huh? Syrah, Malbec, Aligote, Vranec, Aidani…” Reuben’s tone wasn’t especially flirty, but it also wasn’t all business either. They’d definitely wandered into new territory, away from the more abstract discussion of sexual identity to something more personal. And dangerous, but hell if Toby could resist keeping this going. The whole way-too-personal conversation felt way better than it should have.
“Showoff. And seriously? You’ve never used a hookup app?”
“I’ve got better uses for my time than deciding whether to swipe right. Besides, I’m something of a serial monogamist. I like relationships. I’m lousy at them, but one-night stands have never appealed much to me.”
“Really? Again, I’m the opposite. Relationships don’t do it for me.” Better he get that out front right now. If he was going to be honest about his life, he might as well own up to that part too. And it wasn’t like Reuben was asking him to start something or even would want to start something, and Toby absolutely should know better than to go there too. Nevertheless, he felt he owed it to them both to be clear about who he wasn’t.
“That’s too bad. Bet you change your mind someday.” Reuben’s smile was warm and his tone friendly, flip almost, but something about it grated on Toby.
“Bet I don’t.” Then, because snapping at a client was always a bad idea, he added in a light voice, “You ready for a snack? There’s another spot I want you to try afterward that I think you’ll really like.”
Better they get back to dry land and safer conversation topics for a while before Toby had the urge to share more. He’d had plenty of clients he liked, on multiple levels, so he wasn’t sure what it was about Reuben that totally got under his skin. But he absolutely did, and that could hardly be a good thing.
Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels? ARCTIC WILD is book two in the Frozen Hearts series, and there is something about book two in a series that is definitely challenging! Beta Test, At Attention, and now this one were all unique challenges for me. Each book is its own challenge, though. Book One can be a challenge because you’re creating a brand-new world, all new characters, places, important themes etc. But in book two, you’re carrying that universe forward and you’re also limited by what you did in book one, and not just the obvious plot ways. The tone, length, themes, and pacing of book one absolutely affect book two as you try to make sure the series will be cohesive as a whole. And I’m sure it’s just me, but my book two of several series now have taken more intense rewrites to get the story exactly as I want it for my readers. But it’s work I love doing, and I love all the books in my various series!
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing this entire series? I loved all my research into Alaska. I discovered so many amazing details, many of which made it to the books, and others which ended up on the cutting room floor so to speak, but which still influenced the series. The research into the food was among the most fun for me, and not just menus, but food storage and preservation and seasons as well.
Who is your favorite character from the Frozen Hearts series? I loved all of the heroes in this trilogy so much. I think River from book 1 and Owen from book 3, who you’ll meet in September, were among the most fun POVs to write. Book Two, ARCTIC WILD, had my favorite secondary characters of the whole series, and I loved writing both heroes too.
Can you share with us something about Arctic Wild that isn’t in the blurb? The blurb is tightly focused on the romance between the heroes, but one of my favorite things about the book is the secondary characters. You’ll meet Toby’s sister, Nell, and Reuben’s daughter, Amelia, and a several other characters who I really enjoyed writing. Also? The blurb won’t tell you that there’s shower sex, but I totally will!
What is the key theme and/or message in Arctic Wild? To me, this book is all about family—the family we are born to, the family we form, and the family we find in unexpected places leading to unbreakable bonds. And love—love creates family, love heals old hurts, and love leads us unexpected places as it renders all those differences between two people irrelevant. I want the message to be that we can form family and find love even in the most trying of circumstances, even when we least expect it, and that family comes in many surprising packages.
Arctic Wild is another solid example of why I can rely on Annabeth Albert for an enjoyable contemporary romance with any of her releases. This slow burn age gap story might start out with a kind of prickly older lead character (Reuben)—one I first thought I wasn’t going to care for given his all-work-no-play-whatever-you-have-planned-is-fine attitude—but that quickly changes once he starts actually taking in what’s around him. And well, yes, having your life brought into sharp contrast when you think you’re about to bite the dust as your plane is going down has a way of refocusing one’s priorities too.
Things do take a while to develop between Reuben and Toby, and there were some points that Toby did frustrate me, but overall I did like them as a couple. Together they felt more like a “comfortable” couple as things developed as opposed to an intense, passionate one…though that does not mean things between them physically don’t get hot and sexy ;-)
The continued descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness in this second book of the series help bring the scenes to life (and have me adding a trip there to my bucket list). I was also turned into a solid fan of Reuben’s daughter Amelia once she settles in. I definitely liked getting the story from both Reuben and Toby’s points of view, and the epilogue was just right.
This story was a solid 4 star read for me, and I think fans of contemporary M/M romance will enjoy this addition to the Frozen Hearts series. Don’t go into this thinking it’s a crash and survival story though—that only makes up a small portion of the book. It’s more the trigger for the healing and growing closeness of the main characters for the rest of the story, so let that be reflected in your expectations before you start. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
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. 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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