Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert

Introducing Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is… and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

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!

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Book 1
Buy Links

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Carina Press – Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Burn Zone is the first book in the Hotshots series.

Lincoln Reid is a smoke jumper fighting fires in Oregon. Linc and his best friend, Wyatt, are finally working for the same base. They are good at what they do. Linc is gay but not really out. Wyatt tolerates but doesn't completely support Linc's lifestyle, especially since Wyatt's younger brother came out to his family. Wyatt warns Linc away from his younger brother, Jordan.

Jordan has had a crush on Linc since he was nineteen, not caring that Linc was ten years older. He's done everything he could to get Linc to notice him, basically throwing himself at Linc every chance he gets. Linc notices, but he's older and he should know better, but Jordan is wearing him down day by day. When tragedy strikes, Linc gives into that lust for one kiss. When Jordan and Linc end up working together, can Linc continue to fight what he feels when he's around Jordan? Can Jordan get Linc to drop the walls enough to see that they will work?

I enjoyed this read about fire jumpers, a first for me. I normally choose to read first-person point of view, so jumping into third-person was hard to connect with the character at first for me. But once I was invested, I couldn't get enough of this read. I can't wait to see where this series goes!

3.5 Star
Spoiler-Free Review

Burn Zone is the debut in a new series, so it was a refreshing change of pace to just jump in without having to remember a full cast of characters and events that happened previously. I just sat back and relaxed, and watched the story unfold.

Imagine having a crush on your brother's best friend, when you're the baby in the family, and said best buddy is a decade older than you. That gap is mighty large when you're a teenager. Imagine your brother is on the phobic side, so when you come out you fear his reaction. Jacob is a sweet yet equally strong character, engaging and realistic. He tugs the heartstrings as he tries to prove to his family that he's an adult, while trying to show Lincoln he'd be a good partner, both at work and at home.

Imagine watching a kid grow up, seeing him as a little brother, then one day realize he's a grown man that you care deeply for. Your best friend and his family are the only family you have, and your best friend is your constant partner and savior as well. Now imagine your best friend knowing the secret you keep locked in the closet, and how he forces you to make a promise after his little brother comes out, outright blaming you as if being gay is contagious... Lincoln is equal parts frustrating for the reader, yet also highly relatable.

Now toss in one of the world's most dangerous professions, smoke-jumping into raging forest fires, and you have one heck of a tasty, angsty read, right?

I adored the premise, as frustrated as I was at Lincoln and Jacob at times, the pages were not going by rapidly. The novel suffered from far too much redundant inner monologuing. Nonstop telling versus showing. Page after page filled with inner monologues, to where it became tedious. They kept saying the same thing over and over again, like beating a dead horse. I got it the first few times. I feel mean stating this, but it dampened down the entertainment value, had me feeling the need to skim, because the story itself and all the yummy angst was buried beneath the writer telling the reader how the characters felt, instead of showing us on the pages.

I enjoyed the plot, the characters, and look forward to reading more in this series.

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/M Romance

Linc loves his job being a smoke jumper. He loves his friends, who are also on the line with him. But when tragedy strikes, Linc has to shut off all emotions in order to continue doing his job.

Jacob has wanted to be a smoke jumper since he was young. Watching his older brother become one also helped secure his interest. After his brother is lost to a large fire, despite his family's protests, Jacob isn't going to let that stand in his way of his own dreams.

One of those dreams is that Linc would fall in love with him. They had one steamy encounter, but since then, Linc has kept his distance from not only Jacob, but Jacob's entire family. Linc has always been around and when he pulls away, he's missed by everyone.

When Jacob makes it as a smoke jumper, Linc is also less than pleased. What follows is a back and forth, push-pull relationship that seemed incredibly young adult. Linc likes to live his life in guilt and Jacob just wants people to see him for his abilities and not for what he's lost.

These two, while they are great when working together, they have a forced chemistry. It wasn't my favorite story, but I'm hoping the subsequent ones will be more developed.

I was really excited to read this book, I'm a fan of the author and two hot fireman sounds awesome. I didn't love this book. It was slow at times and I found myself not being interested. Then Linc came off as a jerk to me and Jacob worked so hard for his attention. I am hoping this was just a fluke and the next book in the series will be better.

This is the first of a new series, and as I have enjoyed many of Annabeth Albert's books, I did not hesitate to jump in here too. I am very curious to see where it goes next, as there is a reveal towards the end which opens the door rather intriguingly.

I enjoyed the premise of the story, forbidden romance due to disapproving best friend and older brother, and I have read of smoke jumpers before and like the drama and the danger elements. So I was a bit surprised when I started to feel things were going very slowly. We know the score pretty early on, and we know exactly what each of them feel, because we get a lot of inner monologue – but not only do we get them gearing up to the fire season with a lot of training exercises, but the men are also on a training exercise it would seem.

There are some really cute scenes, like when they make the play equipment, some revelations about family, and disappointments, which do a good job of making the issues very, very clear, and some very sexy ones, as they get inventive. But the pace is incredibly slow. For sure it speeds up towards the end and the drama most definitely starts to build, with tension between them and danger at work.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but I could have done with it being a little tighter. I am still invested enough to have made a note to look out for the next one.

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 toddlers.

Connect with Annabeth

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Annabeth's Angels Facebook Fan Group

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert to read and review.

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