Arctic Wild 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
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“Do you want to try to see bears or other wildlife when we land at Katmai? I know a good, safe trail that’s fairly easy, but it has a great chance of wildlife spotting.” Toby’s tone was encouraging, but not pushy. “The other option is for you to settle in early at the lodge, but with it being light so long, most people like a late dinner with a hike beforehand.”
“Hike sounds fine. And no need to slow yourself down on my account—choose a trail you like.” He forced an optimistic tone, because he didn’t want Toby thinking he needed easy options like some eighty-year-old. The same part of him that wanted to prove his doubters wrong wanted to impress Toby, but that urge carried with it an undercurrent of wanting to show off for the attractive guy, an urge Reuben hadn’t had in years.
“Hey, it’s your vacation.” Toby offered him a lazy smile, the sort that made Reuben’s insides feel decades younger. “But sure, I’ll show you some of my favorite vantage points. It’s not a short flight, so we’ll have plenty of time for exploring.”
Reuben liked the sound of that, especially since most of the next leg of the trip was over water with less scenery to distract him. However, Toby kept up a nice if crackly commentary, pointing out little dots in the water that were whales, and providing a history of the Katmai National Park and Preserve with its lava fields and unique landscape and the lakes and rivers of the region, and when they touched down on a lake, he’d almost sold Reuben on the idea of trying fly fishing in the morning as a not terrible endeavor. Apparently, the lodge had all the equipment they’d need for borrowing, and Toby’s enthusiasm was infectious.
“Now I’m really wishing Craig and Leticia had come,” Reuben joked as they came to a stop, before Toby had a chance to jump out. “Leticia with a fishing pole would be a sight worth seeing.”
“I bet.” Toby waited until he’d opened the hatches to speak again. “Wait till you have dinner—you’ll want to brag on that too. This is one of the best food stops on your trip, which is why we do two nights here. I let them know you’re a wine drinker, so the chef should have done some nice pairings for you.”
“Now that sounds wonderful. But first we hike?” While not exactly eager, Reuben had to admit he was falling into the rhythm of the trip more, less uncomfortable than he’d been at first.
“Yeah. They’ll take our luggage up to the cabins by ATV, and our hike will circle back to the main lodge in time for the dinner. There shouldn’t be too many other guests as it’s a fairly exclusive place.” Toby set their bags on the dock right as a young woman rode up on one of those squat motorcycle-like things with the fat tires, pulling a little cart.
“Hey, Toby.” She had a big smile for him and one for Reuben too. “We put your client in cabin four, near the sauna, and you’re in your usual one. Don’t be late for dinner!”
“We won’t.” Toby gave her a grin that made her cheeks go pink before he turned toward Reuben. “Your cabin has electricity and heat, and that sauna is totally worth a post-dinner try.”
“I’m not usually much on recreational sweating.” Reuben realized too late how that sounded, and Toby’s rich chuckle said that he’d caught the unintentional joke there.
“Well, that’s just too bad.” Toby’s tone might have been called flirty if they’d been in a bar, but out here just seemed like more of his natural charm. “Trailhead is this way.”
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.
About 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.
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