- Publisher: Carina Press; Original edition (June 3, 2019)
- Publication Date: June 3, 2019
- Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
- Language: English
From the publisher:
Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.
Just his luck.
But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.
As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.
Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.
I clicked on this novel in Net Galley for one superficial reason – I liked the cover. The series is set in Alaska and I’m a sucker for mountains and the wilderness, being an avid outdoors person myself.
Arctic Wild features two leads who are opposites in every way – Ruben Graham is a much older, successful lawyer who reluctantly goes on an Alaskan vacation after the couple who’d booked the trip with him bail at the last minute. He’s an intense workaholic, out of touch with his teenage daughter who just wants to a solid internet connection and a few hours of peace to get some documents read. Regarding the quest for internet and a few hours of peace, I can totally empathize.
Toby Kooley is a tour guide whose laid-back, social personality hides the burden of being the sole provider for his family. He is intrigued by Ruben’s intensity but, because of his work, he doesn’t pursue right away the spark of heat between them.
The romance between the two leads develops very slowly, accelerating after they experience a plane crash together in which Toby is seriously wounded. Ruben, out of a desire to be close to his daughter and a sense of duty towards Toby, takes a sabbatical from his work to care for Toby while he heals from his injuries.
I enjoyed the central love story of the novel. Often, I feel like mm romances tend to have less of a buildup and rush directly into the sex. This romance was a slow burn, where Ruben and Toby grow to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, becoming friends after the crash, and finally, acknowledging their attraction to become lovers. There is a bit of the frustrated love trope, where the leads think their romance cannot last beyond a certain expiration date and struggle to avoid investing emotionally in the relationship to minimize the pain of certain separation.
The descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness were pleasurable. I particularly appreciated the realistic reminders of the limits of living near the arctic circle – cold winters and short days. I love an idealized setting as much as the next reader, but I respect an author who does their research to provide as much verisimilitude as possible about the place they’re describing.
There were times when I found Toby to be a bit too limited in his thinking and it made me impatient with him. A lot had to do with his financial duress resulting from his inability to work. But his father also contributed to this idea that he should handle his own business, not ask for help and bear the weight of total financial responsibility without complaint. This expectation of excessive self-reliance hampers Toby’s ability to see his way to a long-lasting relationship with Ruben and while it made the father unlikable, it went a long way towards understanding Toby’s behavior.
Toby’s father and sister’s resistance to Ruben was a bit baffling to me. I understand a wariness of outsiders, but I found their concerns to be bordering on the paranoid. Without enough clarity from the narrative as to why they were so hell-bent on disliking Ruben, despite his wealth, selflessness and obvious feelings for Toby, it felt like a plot device dropped into the narrative to generate external conflict. On the other hand, Ruben’s teenage daughter, Amelia was very well drawn character and furthered Ruben’s development during their interactions.
Overall, it was a well-earned and satisfying love story featuring characters I mostly rooted for. The setting is wonderful and the path to intimacy felt authentic. I have a soft spot for the slow burn and that was the case here. The writing was very pared down, as is often the case with contemporary romances, but it made for an easy read.
4 out of 5 stars.