Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 1, 2019
Received From: NetGalley
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.
SEXUALITY: pansexual, bisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: panromantic, biromantic
TROPES: opposites attract, introvert x extrovert, introverted mountain man
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, disabled character (limp as a result of military injury)
WARNINGS: sobriety, recovering alcoholic, alcohol, alcoholism, eating disorder, negative body image, misogyny, parental death mention, parental illness mention, ableism, toxic masculinity mention, hospitalization mention, mental illness (eating disorder, alcoholism, social anxiety), anti-fatness, slurs, gendered slurs, drug usage mention, therapy mention, binary language
Griffin was not going to be done in by a simple smile. He just wasn’t. He was thirty-six years old, not sixteen. And it didn’t matter that River’s floodlight-bright grin revealed gleaming white teeth and two shallow dimples on either side of a full, lush mouth that had to be a big part of what had made him such a hit modeling. Griffin looked away because he wasn’t going to get pulled under River’s spell. He had a job to do, and he was going to do it, but he wasn’t going to make the mistake of liking it.
This book is intense in a way that only a few of Annabeth Albert’s books have been so far, in dealing with incredibly difficult topics, but is just as wonderful as every book before it.
ARCTIC SUN is a romance, but it’s also kind of coming of age story for both of the main characters, a vehicle for finding themselves and discovering what they really want out of life. At first glance, the romance seems too quickly developed and way too easy, but as the relationship between River and Griffin develops outside of the sexual, we see that it’s really a lot more complicated as they have to learn how to take care of themselves while also caring for the other. Griffin is an alcoholic with social anxiety, and River has an eating disorder that nearly killed him in the past–and they both struggle daily not to fall back over the cliff into hurting themselves. It’s heartbreaking to watch them struggle, while trying to be the people they want and need to be for the other and for themselves, but especially so when you know it’s going to blow up in their faces before it can get better for them.
I felt that Albert did a really great job of showing how these aspects of River’s and Griffin’s lives have affected them physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also how they play out affect the different relationships around them as well. For Griffin, that means being more careful around his family while trying to be strong and support them in every way they can. And for River, it means surrounding himself with toxic people–until he realizes how toxic they really are–instead of his family who loves and cares for him, as well as traveling as an escape route from the life he still exists in but runs him ragged. Every aspect of their lives are affected, in different ways, and it takes being with each other to see that they need to work on healing themselves first before they can really make a relationship work.
One aspect that I particularly liked was regarding their sexual relationship and happens near the end of the novel. It’s mentioned several times throughout the novel that River doesn’t really care for anal penetration, especially receiving. Within the last few chapters of the novel, he decides to try it with Griffin by riding him. What I appreciated about this scene, and after, is that while River enjoys it very much, he acknowledges that he liked it but that it was likely due to the fact that Griffin ceded all the power and control to him, and that it wasn’t likely to become a regular part of their sex life, but something they might do once in a blue moon. Too often, authors establish physical and sexual boundaries for their characters but ultimately go back on that because the love interest(s) have a Magic Dick/Vagina. I appreciated that Albert retained these boundaries for River.
Finally, I loved the fact that Griffin is bisexual and River is pansexual! It’s so much more common for at least one of the main characters to be gay that it was really lovely to read about neither of them being monosexual.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel very much and am so excited for the next two books in the trilogy!
Frequent tweeter, professional grammar nerd, and obsessive reader, Annabeth Albert is also a Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.