Thank you to Carina Press for having me on this book blitz for Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert.
Don’t miss an excerpt from the book and a q&a with the author below!
Burn Zone (Hotshots #1)
by Annabeth Albert
Imprint: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 27, 2020
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.
[…] Linc ended up heading outside to the firepit like he hadn’t known all along where he was headed. Jacob was just working on lighting the thing as the evening temperatures dropped.
“Need a hand?” he asked, squatting down next to him.
“Yours? Always.” Jacob was far too flirty for his family being close by, but Linc liked the warmth in his tone too much to call him on it.
“Here.” Linc handed him some kindling. Same as with the baby, they worked together silently, doing this task like they’d done it a thousand times before, when the reality was that the firepit had always been Wyatt’s domain, not Jacob’s. He liked working alongside Jacob, something that had both annoyed and buoyed him the last week, the way Jacob could often read his mind, anticipate what he was about to ask.
And somehow once the fire was going, they ended up the only two out there in the big wooden chairs, alone but not really. They sat in a companionable silence for a while before Jacob shifted, leaning forward, voice a bare whisper. “You know, I’ve been thinking—”
“Please don’t.” Linc wasn’t trying to be funny. The look on Jacob’s face, at once mischievous and earnest, so damn appealing, both turned him on and put him immediately on edge.
“We need to get this—” Jacob gestured between them “—out of our systems. Once and for all.”
“No.” It didn’t work like that, and it spoke to how damn young Jacob still was that he thought it did.
“Hear me out. One night. Then we can concentrate on work after. Put it behind us. Take away the mystery maybe.”
Linc snorted. It might be simply curiosity for Jacob, but it sure wasn’t for him. “It wouldn’t work.”
“Maybe not, but I at least want to try. You don’t?”
“I’m not an itch you scratch once.”
“That sure of yourself, huh?”
More like he was that sure of Jacob, but he said nothing, just stood. His no might be firm now, but he wasn’t made of iron either. Enough wheedling from Jacob and he might get twisted up enough to agree to that ridiculous plan.
“Night. You have a nice time now with your family. And see you tomorrow. At work.” He chose his words carefully, reminding them both about the two big reasons they couldn’t do anything foolish.
“Just think about it,” Jacob urged.
“It’s cake time!” someone called from the house, saving Linc from answering. But he would. He’d think about it all right. He’d think about it tonight, alone in his bed. And probably tomorrow, in the shower. And he’d want it, just like he had for years now, every cell in his body aware of what he could have but wouldn’t allow himself. Lord, how he’d want it, especially now that Jacob had made this diabolical little offer. One night.
And it didn’t help that a small piece of himself kept whispering, It might work. Never know. It could work. That part was wrong, of course, but it spoke to his want, wormed its way into his thoughts until he wasn’t sure how long his willpower could hold out.
About the Author
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.
Burn Zone is the first book in the Hotshots series. What three words best describe Burn Zone?
Danger, heat, and loyalty! All three words apply on multiple levels here!
What is Linc’s most surprising quality?
His tenderness. Linc’s deep and abiding loyalty is what people notice first with him, but it’s his private tenderness with Jacob that surprised (and delighted!!!) me the most with him.
What quality do you love most about Jacob?
Jacob is fearless and tenacious. He knows what he wants and he goes for it, full tilt, whether that thing is his older brother’s best friend, Linc, or smoke jumping.
Burn Zone is full of amazing tropes: age difference, the grumpy and the sunshine characters, older brother’s best friend, rookie and experienced expert, and hurt and comfort. Which trope was the most fun to write for Linc and Jacob’s story?
I knew going into this that this was going to be a deeper examination of best friend’s little brother trope. I did best friend’s brother with At Attention (Out of Uniform, book #2), but the stakes were lower than they are here as far as the familial relationship. I wanted the characters to have to really grapple with some big feelings. And those feelings give rise to some of my favorite hurt/comfort scenes that I’ve done. All the tropes play together to make this one of my favorite books I’ve done—I loved watching my initial idea of angsty brother’s best friend evolve and grow with the other tropes.
What would you like readers to take away from Linc and Jacob’s story?
Sometimes the heart knows what it wants and won’t stop until it gets its way. Linc and Jacob are meant to be, even in face of opposition and adversity. Their relationship is ill-advised—they work together, Linc’s his mentor, and he’s Jacob’s older brother’s best friend. On paper, they are terrible for each other, but in actuality, they are perfect for each other, the missing half to the other’s heart. They’ve been in love, in a way, for years and years, and all that longing pays off in explosive chemistry. I think what I want readers to take away from this story is “Trust your heart. The rest will follow.” If you trust in your heart, then all the obstacles can be tackled, one by one.
Who was your favorite secondary character to write?
Garrick! He gets book 2, HIGH HEAT, coming to you in July from me and Carina Press! I can’t WAIT for you to meet Garrick and Rain!
Where did the inspiration for the Hotshots series come from?
I wanted to do a Central Oregon series, and after spending time in the region on family trips, I was fascinated by how much of the summer season is dominated by wildfire risk. After writing Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform, book #7), I really, really wanted to do more parachute-loving characters, and what’s better than one hero who likes to jump out of planes? Two! And a whole team of them! I wanted to return to the team feeling from Out of Uniform with a close-knit fire community in a part of the country that I truly love.
Writing about smoke jumpers in Oregon must have resulted in some interesting research for the Hotshots series. What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned so far?
So much amazing research! One thing that I loved finding out about was how smoke jumpers repair a lot of their own gear. They are responsible for repairing and maintaining their equipment and a lot of time that means sewing and other highly dexterous tasks that you might not associate with rough-and-ready firefighters.
Burn Zone and the Hotshots series returns to the ‘band of brothers’ feel readers loved in your Out of Uniform Series. What do you love about writing the ‘band of brothers’ feel into your books?
I love loyal groups bound by more than just friendship or family. I love people brought together by a shared passion for serving their community. I love putting them in the sort of life-and-death situations that our real life frontline heroes face. Loyalty to each other goes far beyond a job. It’s a calling, and sometimes it results in sacrifices. I like to honor that hard work and sacrifice in my books and pay tribute to these heroic vocations. It’s inspiring and also fascinating, examining the community created by people brought together to serve the greater good.
HIGH HEAT, the second Hotshots book comes out this summer. What can readers expect from Garrick’s story?
I loved every single thing about writing BURN ZONE, but Garrick was one of my favorite parts. He’s a foil for both Linc and Jacob, and he’s the sort of freewheeling, easy spirit that absolutely embodies the smoke jumping community. But what happens when that job, that community is threatened by an injury beyond your control? Garrick’s book was a chance for me to delve deep into what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan. But it’s also a tremendously fun book. There’s a dog in need of a home, a kinky new younger neighbor, a hot tub, and shenanigans aplenty as Garrick and his co-hero Rain, discover what truly makes a home. With the whole series, you can expect fire drama in the background and lots of adrenaline pumping, but also deep, meaningful feelings and warm, squishy endings.