Monthly Mini Review
Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert, narrated by Iggy Toma – B+ I enjoyed Arctic Sun recently, the first book in the Frozen Hearts series set in Alaska and after Caz enjoyed the follow up book, I decided to listen as well. I hadn’t listened to Iggy Toma narrate before but he has been highly recommended so I decided to give it a try.
Listeners were introduced to Tobias Kooly briefly in Arctic Sun but this book stands alone fairly well. Reuben Graham is a white guy in his late forties, going on an Alaskan holiday/adventure for his birthday. He was supposed to go with a couple of friends but they had to cancel at the last minute so he goes alone.
31 year-old Toby is the pilot/guide for his tour. Toby’s identifies his ethnicity as:
“My family background is a mix but mostly Athabascan from Ninilchik and Kenai. Also some Russian, Dutch, German thrown in.”
and it forms a large part of his identity. While I know the author is white, it seemed to me that the representation was done well but as I’m also white I’m hardly the expert here.
Toby has been taking care of his family since his mother died. Well, before that really. His father was in a snowmobile accident and became unable to work and Toby left college to come home and help. Since then he’s been helping financial and after his mother’s death, he also became his father’s primary caretaker. Toby has two younger sisters and is also funding their education.
Reuben on the other hand is a wealthy corporate lawyer and very much a workaholic. He has a 14 year-old daughter, Amelia, with whom he has a fairly distant relationship and an ex-wife who is also the Managing Partner of the firm where he works. His ex wants him to take a buy out and exit the firm but Reuben isn’t at all sure that’s what he wants to do.
Toby and Reuben are instantly attracted to one another but Toby doesn’t mess with clients and Reuben thinks he’s too old. But it all changes when their seaplane crashes. For Reuben the crash spurs a reevaluation of his life and Toby, who is seriously injured, he goes from caretaker, to care-needer. At first I thought that the book would be a kind of queer The Mountain Between Us but actually the crash is just the beginning. Most of the book is the rest of the summer as Reuben reconnects/connects with Amelia, helps to look after Toby and summers in Alaska while deciding what to do with his future. It is then that the romance develops between the two men.
The conflict is all about Toby’s reluctance to receive help (this is tied up with his own family dynamic and mostly courtesy of his dad) and Toby’s family’s distrust of Reuben as an older, richer, outsider. The story dragged a little in the middle and Toby’s dad annoyed me a bit. I wanted Toby to stand up to him a little earlier than he did. I liked Reuben and Toby together very much and I enjoyed the building relationship between Amelia and her father and Toby. Amelia was a bit of a brat at first but by the end as her relationships became more settled and she grew in confidence she was much more pleasant to be around.
Iggy Toma did really well with the narration. I’ll definitely listen to him again. He did well at differentiating between all the cast and his female character voices weren’t bad (although they weren’t fabulous either). I thought Reuben sounded a little more Boston than New Jersey but that may be more about me being Australian so don’t take my word for it. I liked the book and the narration a lot and I also patted myself on the back for twigging who would be the next hero (hint: a certain park ranger).
Reviews of these books will be up soon at AudioGals.
Here’s what you may have missed:
The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert, narrated by Cornell Collins
Anton by Brenda Rothert, narrated by Erik Bloomquist & Madeleine Dauer
The Protector by Elin Peer, narrated by Noelle Bridges & John Masterson