Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: September 23, 2019
Received From: A Novel Take PR / NetGalley
A lasting connection needs more than simply surviving a winter together—they’ll have to outsmart danger, let down their defenses and open their hearts.
Owen Han has a fresh lease on life—he’s kicked cancer’s ass and is roaring through his bucket list. The former investment banker hopes to find his next challenge in Alaska, volunteering alongside park rangers and fulfilling his childhood dreams of snowy winters and rustic life. Of course, those dreams did tend to feature big strapping mountain men in vivid detail…
Ranger Quilleran Ramsey would like to be anywhere other than dealing with newbie volunteers. And really, the only thing he needs less than a green volunteer “partner” is the flirty attentions of a buff city boy who doesn’t look ready to last a week, let alone an Alaskan winter. They’re all wrong for each other, even if Quill’s traitorous body enjoys the flirting more than it should.
As the weeks pass, the two snowbound men give in to temptation. But can their seasonal romance last until spring? For them to have a future together, each will have to trust the other…while hoping that the harsh elements and omnipresent dangers don’t destroy what happiness they’ve found in the moment.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
TROPES: opposites attract, city person x country person, class disparity, snowed in/snowbound, forced proximity, introvert x extrovert, sex lessons, more experienced teaches less experienced, out for you, mutual pining
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, Vietnamese character, Asian character, POC character
WARNINGS: sexual content, cancer, toxic masculinity, parental death, medical procedures, mental illness (PTSD), ableism, physical injury, child abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, anti-touch averse language, cissexism/anti-trans language, trauma, anti-ace language, past abusive relationship, natural disaster
As the closing novel of the trilogy, ARCTIC HEAT has a lot of weight on its shoulders and it succeeds in being just as wonderful as the first two books!
On paper, Quill and Owen don’t really make sense. Owen is an out and proud, extroverted, city boy who loves being around people and talking and having fun, while Quill is a more staid, closeted, introverted country boy who loves his routines and doesn’t like to push boundaries or go outside of his own comfort zone, if he can help it. But, despite their differences, they’re so clearly very good for each other! Owen brings more happiness and excitement to Quill’s life while he, in turn, brings more balance and peace to Owen’s. Through their mutual attraction and forced proximity through the winter, the two are able to discover what they really want out of life, which turns out to be a middle ground between where they currently reside. They’re able to find, in each other, the person who is the perfect balance for them in all ways, and Albert masterfully utilizes the book’s tropes to build this wonderful relationship.
And truly, the relationship that develops between the two of them is the shining star of the novel and was so enjoyable to read, even in the sad and frustrating moments.
Also, as with the first two books, the descriptions of the Alaskan setting were truly phenomenal. It was easy to feel like you were there–though I’m certainly glad I was experiencing Midwestern summer weather and not Alaskan winter as I read!–and built a desire to visit the gorgeous landscape described. In essence, this trilogy feels like a love letter to Alaska and one that has been a joy to read.
One thing that I was hoping for that, sadly, didn’t come to be, was that Quill would be revealed to be aro- and ace-spec. Throughout the whole novel, I could not shake the feeling that he was both demiromantic and demisexual because his experiences with both romantic and sexual relationships rang the demi bells so very hard in my brain. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t view this as a flaw in the novel, and in my mind I’ve categorized it as incidental rep, but it would’ve just been the cherry on top if this was canon!
In the end, I’m sad this trilogy has come to a close, but I cannot wait to see what comes next from Annabeth Albert!
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.