Arctic Sun by Annabeth Albert
While his uncle is recuperating from minor surgery, Alaskan bush pilot Griffin is tasked with taking a tour group into the wilds of Alaska. One of the group is River, former male model-turned inspirational travel writer, who’s gathering material for his next book.
There’s an immediate attraction and chemistry between them and over the course of the week, as they spend more time together, they fall for one another.
One of the many things that drew me into Artic Sun, is that Griff and River two interesting, compelling, genuinely dimensional characters, with actual lives. And by that, I mean that they’re not just cardboard cut-outs going through the motions, playing out a standard romantic plotline.
They’ve both faced challenges in the past, overcome them, and – through emotionally intelligent conversations — work to figure out how they can move forward together.
After the tour is over, they make plans to meet in Vancouver. River is going to be hanging out with some old friends from his modeling days, and Griff’s visit is a kind of “real world” road test to see if their relationship can work. It’s of course a total disaster.
The old friends bring out triggering scenarios for both Griff and River. Their true “Real World” was the connection they shared in the wilds of Alaska, not fancy date night restaurants or going to exclusive clubs. The problem is that they’re using relationship criteria from their screwed-up pasts to judge their current situation.
They realize this far too late and break things off.
They each take some time apart and do some soul searching, River about his family history and public persona and how it relates to his work, and Griff about how he interacts with the outside world and family’s tour business.
Griff makes his way to L.A. for the premiere of the film based on River’s book. The things they each want and need out of life are actually more aligned than they first realized.
They can live, love and work surrounded by the nature that gives each of them so much joy.
Griff and River are two relatable, likable, strong, but flawed characters that I totally fell in love with. I can’t recommend Arctic Sun highly enough.
This review originally appeared in episode 183 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast.