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.
I've always found Alaska fascinating and its landscapes captivating. "Arctic Sun" is not just a romance story set over there. It's an adventure interwoven with that place. It takes place in Alaska and the setting isn't interchangeable because it's a huge part of the story. The characters are outdoor types and travel all over by any means they can. This book isn't just a story about two people finding each other, it's a story about Alaska and its wild beauty.
Griffin is a local, he served in Air Force, got a medical discharge and is now planning to build a cabin of his own in the town he was born in and where his whole family lives. He loves to fly anything he can get his hands on and he is most comfortable while he is in the air and in a pilot seat. He loves his family but at the same time he likes quiet. He's a loner, has a rough past that he is still battling with and he prefers to stay away from big cities and big crowds.
River is an ex model and a current author. He likes people and being the center of attention but in recent years he also found that hiking is therapeutic for him. He comes alive when he is surrounded by nature and its sounds. He has his own demons that he fights with everyday but he doesn't give up. He has been fighting an eating disorder for years and even though he acknowledges that he has a problem he still hasn't found a way to win it.
I think that even though River was saying that he was in recovery he was still hanging to by thread and the disorder was very powerful. He wasn't in imminent danger but it was still very present and at times it was scary to read his thoughts about food and calories. From the way he was thinking it was clear that he was battling his eating disorder day in and day out and that he hadn't yet managed to come out a winner. Closer to the end though I was very confident about his future. He had taken some positive steps, he was stronger and with the support system he had started to set in place - in stead of doing everything by himself - he was moving in the right direction and managing the disorder a million times better than he did at the beginning of the story.
River and Griffin as a couple were very fitting, I liked that the story wasn't completely taken by the week-long tour where they met. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out that that was just one part of the story and the rest of it spanned over a few months. This way there was time for the characters to get to know each other, develop feelings, experience things together and plan for the future in a more realistic way.
My favorite part of the book were the descriptions of the places Griff took River. The scenic roots, the secret spots, the scenery as seen from a plane.... It was like I was watching a movie instead of just having to imagine the landscape. Great job over there Mrs Albert!
I liked the ending and the future that we were promised for Griffin and River. These two characters were both alone at the beginning and had decided to live their lives that way, one physically isolated from the world as much as possible and the other only forming temporary connections with people and then moving right along out of fear of staying still for too long and reliving his past hurts. In the end, both of them reevaluated their choices and came out two very different people, a lot happier, a lot stronger and a lot more in peace.
* An ARC of this book was kindly provided to me, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. *