Up in Smoke (Hotshots #4) by Annabeth Albert

Three Men and a Baby meets Backdraft with explosive chemistry and heartfelt feels.
Freewheeling smoke jumper Brandt Wilder thrives on adrenaline. He’s never met a parachute he can’t repair or a dangerous situation he couldn’t wrangle his way out of. He’s popular and fun-loving and not at all looking to settle down or form lasting relationships. It’s a lifestyle that’s served him well…right up until the day he finds a baby on his doorstep.
Shane Travis is used to putting his country music career—and his own happiness—on hold after his sister rolls through his life. Like last spring when she convinced him to try skydiving for his birthday—and she walked away with the hot parachute instructor.
Now he gets to deliver the piece of news that will upend Brandt’s carefree life: he very well might be a dad.
Shane’s niece is safe in Brandt’s strong, capable hands, but too many questions remain unanswered. Co-parenting while they sort it out leads to late-night talks, and soul-bearing confessions lead to a most inconvenient attraction. Still, Shane can’t leave this makeshift family behind—even if it means playing house with the one man he can’t resist.

This was another great installment to Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series. It had an interesting twist with surprisingly low drama and angst – given the situation that both characters found themselves in.

The story opened with Brandt and Shane’s first meeting. There was a strong attraction then, or at least Shane thought so. Turns out that he may not have been as far off as he first thought.

These two guys both had to give up part of their lives to take care of Jewel, but there was no doubt in either of their minds or hearts. Even though Jewel was an central part of the story, another real focus was how she brought these two men together. Shane’s sister was always in the background, sometimes even when she was there. I wasn’t a fan of Shelby, so I understood Shane’s animosity toward her. What I did like was how Brandt interacted with her in comparison.

It didn’t take long for this unlikely trio to become a real family, but the progression was perfect. I love books that include kids, especially when they’re an integral part of the story in a believable way. Up In Smoke definitely accomplished that and more.

Feel the Fire (Hotshots #3) by Annabeth Albert

When their career paths bring two high school sweethearts together again, the forest isn’t the only thing ablaze…
Fire behavior specialist Luis Riviera goes where his job takes him. But when he’s assigned to an arson investigation in Central Oregon—the place he left his broken heart twenty years ago—he’s afraid of being burned all over again.
Tucker Ryland had planned to join his first love, Luis, in LA after high school graduation, but life got in the way. Now a fire management expert and a divorced father of teen twins, Tucker’s thrown for a loop when he finds himself working side by side with his Luis, now all grown up and more intriguing than ever.
Though consumed by a grueling fire season and family responsibilities, the two men discover their bond has never truly broken. Tentative kisses turn to passionate nights. But smoking sheets aside, old hurts and new truths stand in the way of this time being the start of forever.

This is one of those series that gets better with each installment. I liked Burn Zone and I adored Garrick and Rain in High Heat and I’m pretty sure that they’re still my favorite couple in the Hotshots series, but Luis and Tucker are now running a very close second. 😉

I love second chance romances and Feel the Fire was a perfect example. Life took Luis and Tucker is different directions and eventually their young love fizzled out…or so they thought. Their second-chance meeting took them both by surprise, even though Luis had a bit more time to prepare for the inevitability. They were both wary and even though the attraction was still there, there was some residual hurt that they needed to get through. Even then, there was the reality that distance was still a factor that there was no easy solution to, so having a real relationship still wasn’t in the cards for them.

Aside from the rekindled romance between Luis and Tucker, I think my favorite part of Feel the Fire was Tucker’s family. Tucker obviously put his family first, but the whole dynamic between the now blended families was refreshing. The fact Tucker’s parents and the rest of his side of the family basically ignored him once he came out to them wasn’t nearly as earth shattering as it could have been because of their new norm. It didn’t just center around the kids’ well being though, they all truly cared about each other and they were the true definition of what a blended family should look like.

The rest of the supporting characters were great and familiar to readers who have enjoyed the previous books in the series. It was nice getting to see them again and being around them helped Luis realize that things had changed in the community since he left.

In the end, Luis and Tucker both had to decide what was best for them either apart or as a couple. Their solution wasn’t what I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. ❤

High Heat (Hotshots #2) by Annabeth Albert

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…

I really liked Jacob and Link in Burn Zone, but I think Garrick and Rain (and Cookie) are now my favorites in the Hotshots series. ❤

Even though readers met Garrick in Burn Zone, you could read High Heat as a stand alone. There is a little bit of set up in the first book – mainly, Garrick’s accident. It wasn’t only devastating to Garrick, but to the rest of his team – who were essentially, his family.

High Heat doesn’t have as much of the day to day work atmosphere that Burn Zone did, but that’s to be expected. Garrick’s main goal is to get back to that, but it’s slow going. A lot slower than Garrick wants. Rain and Cookie are exactly what Garrick needs to keep his mind occupied on other things – and they’re both perfect distractions.

Speaking of Rain, he was amazing. He was so patient and seemed to know when to back off and not hover over Garrick, but was always there to help when it was needed. He had a way of presenting things and ideas to Garrick that made him look at them a different way. I loved all that about him.

This story was about trust and acceptance and a whole lot of hope. All those things, plus the strong sense of family made this one a favorite in the series so far. Feel the Fire is next in Hotshots, so stay tuned…

Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert

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.

I’ve read several books by Annabeth Albert and I have to say that Burn Zone wasn’t my favorite out of all of them. (That would be Squared Away, but that’s another book in another series and pretty tough to beat… ❤ ) That doesn’t mean I disliked it though – it just didn’t blow me away.

I liked Linc and Jacob, but I have to admit that it took me a while for Linc to win me over and I still wasn’t “team Linc” by the end of Hotshots. Jacob was nothing but honest and sincere from the beginning. It wasn’t that Linc was dishonest, but he spent a lot of time hiding – even from himself. I also had a hard time with Jacob’s family, but you’ll have to read Hotshots to see if they redeem themselves for you or not. In my opinion, even by the end, they still had a long way to go.

The rest of the supporting characters were great and I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of the crew, if that’s where the series takes readers. I’m hoping so because there were a couple that I’d really like to get to know better. 😉