Arctic Sun Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

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.

Review: Arctic Sun, by Annabeth Albert

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 26, 2019 10:45:00 AM / by Andrea

 "You need me to do what?" is the amazing opening line that welcomes us into Arctic Sun. Griffin's uncle has asked him to lead a tour group for a week-long trip that's part scenic outdoor Alaskan adventure and part on the ground live-action photography class. Griffin would prefer to stay in the comfort of his cabin, sticking with the routines he put in place to ensure his sobriety, but he understands the need and loves his family, so he steps in to take his uncle's place as tour guide and goes to welcome the group that's just arrived. One of those guests is a beautiful blue-haired literal celeb who immediately crushes on him. And so it begins! 

Fair warning: Unlike basically every other Annabeth Albert book, the military plays a very small role in Arctic Sun. Griffin's got a bit of a limp due to an injury from his time in the military, and we're told that he has surgery scars and burn scars on his back and shoulders when River notices them, but there's no discussion or conversation about it. 

This story's got some really excellent overthinking; about coming out to each other, not ordering alcohol, figuring out sex with a new person, deciding on easy foods to eat, and doing all of that while you're with a group of strangers on a roadtrip where you need to look like you've got it together. 

Hopefully it was just the formatting of the review copy that made the perspectives a bit tricky to keep track of --I couldn't always tell whose POV I was reading from or when it had switched. But each chapter was amazing, regardless. And bonus: Both guys are out and on-page identify as pan and bi!

River is a supermodel-turned-author who signed up for this trip as inspiration for the followup to his Eat Pray Love-esque book, which he needs to finish writing ASAP. He's highly aware of the professional pressures he's under, but he's also openly flirting with ya boi Griff. Griffin's super focused on getting through this stressful being-a-guide thing, but he's also very aware of River's hotness. Which is new, because Griffin's been unsure how / if his libido functions when he's sober, something he hasn't felt comfortable enough to experiment with yet. As Griffver (guys I'm so sorry but I just accidentally made a ship name and now it has to stay) spends time together, Griffin he finds that he enjoys the person he allows himself to be around River, and so he indulges in exploring the possibilities with him. It's a really beautiful, exciting thing to see Griffin bloom. The sexual turning point happens when there's the classic mixed-up cabin booking situation and they end up sharing a room. 

"Lying here like this, I keep thinking of the hundreds of summer camp fantasies I've had over the years." Griffin was going to hate himself for this later but he couldn't stop the words from coming out. "Yeah? Like what?" 

and !!! Things get HEATED! Like!!!! Wow. I did NOT truly did GET roleplaying until this very moment and wowwwww. Did Annabeth Albert just create an 'accessible roleplay' sub-genre because... I'm 1000% IN! 

Arctic Sun gives us neck biting, first-time fantasy fulfilling, and trying-to-be-quiet-so-the-room-next-door-doesn't-hear-us sex. There's private-seaplane sightseeing trips, sex-toy enjoying and even a movie premiere! The couple enjoys art together, shares their food, photographs and coloring-book masterpieces; often sitting together quietly to simply enjoy their surroundings. 

The sex is incredible on many levels, but the romance of Arctic Sun is very much in the idea of Love being an action. River and Griffin are sooo accommodating, generous and patient with each other! And they're never condescending or forceful or controlling. When they're scared or worried or hesitant about something, they say so. The compassion and kindness and genuine care between them; there were moments that absolutely floored me. 

I found a hopeful joy in this story having two men who talk openly; saying what they feel, without pretense or ego or subtle avoidance. It’s a special, unique thing I want in more stories. And their open discussions of their coping mechanisms and what they struggle with --more of that, please! especially in men! 

So, they have this amazing trip together, and then they have to go back to their lives in different parts of the world. But they find ways to see each other. They text and email, sending adventure stories and photographs, planning trips to visit. We get to enjoy some lovely 'You came to see me!' giddy airport scenes. I love that this story is about two people choosing to try, to go, to make it work and spend the time together. They do what feels good and important and special between them. and they don't fix each other. Griffver (yes, it's a thing now) makes their relationship a constant conversation, something that's continually building.This quote sums it up perfectly: 

"Maybe it's not that we're perfect for each other. But that we're imperfect --this is a place where I don't have to be perfect. And you don't either. And we don't have to be perfect together." 

(But they are!!)

Content warnings: I'm super happy to be able to say that this book opens with content warnings and contact numbers for anyone dealing with those issues. The opening mentions sobriety, eating disorders, substance use disorders and alcoholism. In addition to those, be aware that there is: discussion of grief and loss (Griff's best friend/unrequited love, Griff's dad, and River's mom have died), mention of Griff's past gambling debt and bad credit, mention of hospitalization (River was hospitalized for his eating disorder and speaks frankly about it), toxic friends and their on-page drug use, mention of Griffin's injury surgery and burn scars, mention of ATV fatalities from riding helmet-free. 

Topics: review