by Annabeth Albert
Release Date: July 27, 2020
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #2 in the Hotshots series
Number of pages: 336
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/M
Read 7/17/20 to 7/18/20
Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.
Smoke jumping is Garrick Nelson’s life. Nothing, not severe injuries nor the brutal physical therapy that follows, is going to stop him from getting back with his crew. But when a lost dog shows up on his front porch, he can’t turn her away, and he can’t take care of her on his own. Thankfully, help comes in the form of his new sexy, dog-loving neighbor. As they work together, trying to re-home their little princess, Garrick can’t resist his growing attraction for the other man, even though he knows this guy isn’t the staying type.
Rain Fisher doesn’t take anything too seriously. He dances through life, one adventure at a time, never settling in one place for too long. When his hot, conveniently buff, neighbor shows up on his doorstep, dog in tow, Rain’s determined to not just save the adorable puppy, but her reluctant owner as well. He never expects their flirtation might tempt him into stay put once and for all…
Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: Burn Zone, High Heat, and Feel the Fire.
Title: High Heat
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Hotshots, #2
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press
eBook On-Sale: July 27, 2020
eBook ISBN & Price: 9781488057069, $4.99 U.S.
MMP On-Sale: July 28, 2020
MMP ISBN & Price: 9781335459510, $8.99 U.S.
My introduction to this author was the first book in this series, Burn Zone. I was an instant fan. I couldn’t wait to read more and find out if the book that blew me a way was a fluke, or if I had found a new must-read author. It wasn’t a fluke. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Annabeth Albert so far. This story is just as amazing as the first.
Garrick wasn’t someone I necessarily loved in the first book, until his motives became clearer. Then I couldn’t help but stand behind him. He’s a good friend, that’s for sure. But he got seriously injured in the first book and he’s not smoke jumping currently. Nope, this man who is so used to going all in and leading the charge is in physical therapy and, more often than not, needs his wheelchair to get around. That’s a lot to get used to. I love his can-do attitude and couldn’t help but hope his optimism would pay off.
Rain is such a cutie. It’s hilarious when they first meet because I felt as though Rain wanted to be super sassy but just wasn’t sure how the stoic firefighter would take him. Not that he wanted to hide who he was, he just didn’t want to offend. These two quickly realize they are on the same page and…let the banter begin. Man, their flirting and innuendos is next level. Even when Garrick is trying NOT to got there, it just cannot be helped. They feed off each other and, eventually, can no longer deny their connection. This story is about more than sexuality and relationships and love. It’s about being true to yourself and letting others be themselves with no judgment. Rain is not one to hide who he is, and Garrick in not one to want him to ever “tone down” his true self. It’s a beautiful thing.
As much as I instantly loved Rain, I wasn’t sure if he’d have much depth at first. But boy does he. As a middle child, I totally understood Rain on so many levels. Although I’m more of an introvert, that didn’t stop me from doing dumb things for attention when I was younger. The problem is, Rain’s family still sees him as that small kid. They never quite take him seriously. He’s loved and respected, but it doesn’t seem anyone takes the time to get to know adult Rain. Until Garrick, that is.
I cannot tell you how amazing the sexual chemistry is with these two. Garrick has some possible issues with arousal with his injuries, but ultimately, they don’t let that hold them back. It’s actually a part of this story that really cements the relationship between Rain and Garrick. Their experimentation and exploration of what did and did not work was not only steaming hot, but gave their relationship a while other depth.
Rain has always been one to do for others in all aspects of his life. Be it for a neighbor, family, or stranger. If someone needs help, Rain is there. He doesn’t know how to receive very well, though. Garrick helps him learn that giving and receiving are equally important…in and out of the bedroom. In some ways Garrick is the same since he’s never been one to ask for help. Rain helps him to realize it’s okay to need help once in a while and that there are people who not only will help, but WANT to help.
I could not get enough of these two. When they had conflict, my heart ached for them both. When they overcame obstacles throughout this book, I celebrated with them. This author has a forever fan in me.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
Emerging from the bathroom, he pulled up short in front of the bed where a very happy, very sleepy Cookie was lounging against his pillows.
“Hey! I thought I told you to lie on your bed.”
Thump. Thump. Wagging her tail, she gave him a canine grin.
“That’s the people bed. Yours is over there.” He pointed at her bed. “Go lie down.”
Helpfully, she scooted over about ten inches but otherwise didn’t seem inclined to budge.
“Five minutes, okay? Five minutes and then you’re going to your bed.” Sitting next to her, he adjusted the bed’s angle. Replacing his previous cheap king set with this setup had been a bit of a splurge, but it beat the rental hospital bed he’d had at his dad’s. He was a big guy. He needed his space. And he was not prepared to share that space with a stubborn pooch.
“Go lay down,” he tried again after giving her some pats, but all she did was move to the foot of the other side of the bed. Yawning and out of energy, he was no match for a stubborn dog. “Fine, fine. Let’s not tell Rain that you rejected his bed selection.”
Usually nights were hard—his pain level tended to spike at night in unpredictable ways, his sleep could be
fitful, and his mind raced through hundreds of dismal scenarios. He’d never had an anxiety problem before the accident, but lately, calming down at night was particularly problematic. If he was physically exhausted, it was easier, but then physical tiredness tended to mean more pain, which meant more sleeplessness, which meant more time for worries to charge back up.
But that night he didn’t even need to play on his phone and was asleep even before he could try again to get Cookie to move. The next thing he knew it was morning—and not crack-of-dawn morning either, but a sunny eight o’clock. A banging noise was coming from the front door.
Had to be Rain come to walk the dog. And sure enough, his phone was full of several missed messages from Rain asking about a time to come over.
“Coming,” he hollered. Hell. No time to get dressed. Letting Cookie lead the way, he used the crutches to get as far as the wheelchair, then switched to the faster method to get to the door.
“Oh, good! You survived the night!” Rain greeted him cheerily. “And uh—wow. Um. You need me to wait a minute?”
Rain’s gaze was riveted to Garrick’s chest in a blatantly appreciative way he hadn’t experienced in months. Damn. Felt good. Too good. And his shorts were hardly designed to conceal his body’s reaction to Rain’s attention if his dick decided to power up like it had last night. Abruptly, he spun away from the door. “Come on in. Sorry. We slept late. Like ten hours. I can’t believe it. That never happens to me.”
“You must have needed it. Did Cookie stay in her bed all night?”
“She stayed quiet,” Garrick hedged, not wanting to hurt his feelings by telling him Cookie had rejected the bed but also not wanting to outright lie either. “She must have needed the rest too. You want to take her out? I’ll find both a shirt and her medication while you’re gone.”
“Sounds great.” Rain bounced on the balls of his feet before fetching the leash from the key rack where he’d hung it the night before. His hair was still up, but messier than the day before, and he was wearing silver shorts and a close-fitting pink T-shirt with several members of that pony show Garrick’s sister’s kids liked, and Squad Goals written under the ponies in swirly script.
“No job interview today?”
“Nope. Didn’t want Miss Cookie feeling bad about being the only one in pink. I figured we could match. And I told you. I like it.” Rain’s eyes were defiant, daring Garrick to object.
“Hey, you wear what you want to wear.” Without coffee on board, he was struggling to sound supportive and not lecherous, because damn. Rain looked good in pink, all warm and glowing. It made his eyes more golden, and somehow the contrast with his sharp jaw did all sorts of interesting things to Garrick’s insides. While his taste in partners could be eclectic, the one unifying feature was usually confidence, because there were few things sexier than a fearless person who knew themselves and what they wanted. He’d already noted Rain’s innate confidence the day before, and today’s outfit choice only made him that much more appealing.
“Good.” Rain clipped the leash to Cookie’s collar. “We’ll be back.”
While they were gone, Garrick found a T-shirt of his own, black and plain because he didn’t have the same need for sparkle as Rain, but man, did he appreciate glam in people who enjoyed it. As he made the coffee, he watched Rain and Cookie coming up the sidewalk at a decent trot, Rain’s mouth moving like he was talking to the dog. Cute. So damn cute. And so very off-limits.
Copyright © 2020 by 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.