I am pleased to welcome Annabeth Albert on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate the release of High Heat, the second book in her Hotshots series. Please give her a warm welcome!
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.
Hi! I am so thrilled to be here on one of my favorite blogs with an exclusive excerpt of HIGH HEAT, my sexy new firefighter romance. This is book two in my Hotshots series about smoke jumper wildfire fighters in Central Oregon, but each book is designed to stand alone as well. HIGH HEAT centers around an injured smoke jumper, Garrick, trying to recover from serious injuries and his sexy new neighbor, Rain who barrels his way into Garrick’s life, complete with a lost dog who needs them both. In the exclusive scene that I’ve brought Queer Books Unbound today, Rain is moving closer and closer to starting something with Garrick, attraction building between the two as flirting takes a turn for the sexy…
Reluctantly, he moved away, doing a little shimmy as he got into stacking up the pancakes. Garrick made a strangled sound.
“Shorts. Either we need to feed you a lot more or your elastic has issues.”
“Ah.” They’d dipped a couple of times at the park too, a particularly loose pair that went with the mermaid top, but apparently they’d dipped low enough to reveal a strip of his underwear. Just a hint of lace on the waistband really, but the way Garrick’s eyes were riveted to it, one might think there was fire involved. Or maybe that was simply the heat sizzling between the two of them, some sort of charged energy. “Problem?”
“No.” Garrick’s gaze didn’t waver and Rain didn’t hike the shorts up. This was the exact opposite of feeling invisible, lost in a crowd, and the singular attention made his pulse speed up.
“Wanna see more?” He fingered the waistband of his shorts. “I’m not shy.”
“That you’re not.” Garrick’s voice was all low and husky.
“Maybe you’d like this pair as much as my pony shirt…” Rain was seconds from dropping his shorts altogether when the pancake closest to him started sizzling, that too-done aroma filling the air. Hiking his shorts back up, he saved the pancake from near doom but singed his finger in the process. “Crap. Crap.”
“Did you burn yourself?” Rolling closer, Garrick’s expression went from seductive to concerned.
“Not too bad.” Setting aside the pancakes, he ran his finger under cold water. “I’ll live.”
“Bandage needed? I’ve got a first aid kit. God, I’m sorry. I distracted you.”
“No bandage or apology needed.” Rain brought both plates to the nearby table, which already had one chair pushed to the back wall to make space for Garrick. “I like the distraction. A lot.”
He took the chair on the end, closer to Garrick, rather than across the table, Garrick still sputtering on about being sorry.
“Seriously, dude. Quit apologizing. I think we both could use more…diversions. In fact, I propose we start after breakfast.” He gave Garrick what he hoped was a seductive and not maniacal smile. He didn’t have a ton of practice with seduction, but no time like the present to start.
“Rain…” Garrick trailed off and cut his pancakes into rough hunks before spearing one particularly hard.
“Yes?” Rain prompted because he wasn’t a mind reader. He was well aware that he could be somewhat…much for certain people, but Garrick’s tone wasn’t that kind of fed up.
“You don’t need to show me anything. Or flirt. You know that, right? I’ll help train you and keep the dog regardless of how…friendly you are.”
Rain had to blink at this turn of reasoning. “You’re worried you’re taking advantage of me? Not the other way around?”
“I am the older one.” Garrick nodded sharply. “I don’t…ah…want you feeling obligated.”
More than a little amused, Rain shook his head. “And if I don’t? If I simply enjoy flirting and love being a distraction? Can I keep doing me or you need me to tone it down?” Rain didn’t particularly want to dial down the flirting, but Garrick being uncomfortable was no good either.
“You do you. Whatever makes you happiest. I mean that.”
That was probably as close to a green light as he was going to get, and Rain had to resist the urge to wriggle in his chair. He liked that Garrick both seemed to get him and wanted to indulge him.
“And if showing you my unmentionables would make me happy?” he pushed. Only a little. Because Garrick said he could.
“That’s not a no.”
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.