There are many elements I really liked in this one, including the issues Garrick was dealing with due to his accident while on the job as a Smoke Jumper. Rain was a breath of fresh air, to him, but also to me, as a reader. He's such a sweet considerate guy, none judgmental and honest in the best kind of way. He saw in Garrick so much more than the physical state he was in. So much more than he let the world around him see.
Near the end of the first installment Garrick Nelson finds himself hospitalized with severe injuries to his head, legs and spinal cord. The prognosis isn't very promising but he is a fighter, always has been and he is going to work HARD and get back to work, jumping off planes, even if it takes time to get there. A year later he has made a lot of progress and though he is frustrated at times he doesn't let himself dwell on those feeling - he fights on. His life is a lot more isolated than it used to be. He was a social guy, going out, hooking up, meeting with friends, but now everything is different. His friends offer him help and he doesn't know how to react - if they are serious or not (or just being polite..) - and also there are the looks, the questions he doesn't know how to answer, the memories and the knowledge he is "missing out" while his friends are doing the thing he loves most and cannot do now.
When he finds a stray dog at his porch he goes to Shirly, his friend and neighbor from across the street, to ask for help dealing with it (considering she's afraid of both crutches and his wheel chair). He doesn't expect to get Rain Fisher instead. Rain is staying with his grandmother for the summer, helping her out while she is dealing with arthritis (though she barely allows him to do anything..) when he sees Garrick (and the stray dog) he jumps to help - as it's what he does best - being there for others.
Rain tries to persuade Garrick to adopt Cookie (that's how they decide to call her) but Garrick is reluctant as he can't even take her out on his own. Rain, naturally, offers to come and take her out. It's the best solution so Garrick accepts - at least until a permanent home is found for her. Rain is only here for the summer and he can't commit to a dog now especially as his isn't totally independent.
With Rain coming to take Cookie out they get to know each other and slowly but surely become friends. Garrick learns Rain is also interested in fire fighting so he offers to train him. Getting up early in the morning to walk Cookie and exercise is no hardship for Rain when the company is more than worth it. He is getting better and stronger and even finds a summer job (with Garrick's help). Garrick himself finds a "desk job" in the center he used to work as a smoke jumper and though it's not what he would like to do, he's good at it, and it's something to pass the time (it also helps he gets to see and hear Rain).
While Garrick feels insecure in his ability to have anything other than platonic relationship with Rain, Rain makes it clear he would LOVE to have anything and everything with Garrick. Whatever he is able to, what they both enjoy. There was quite the emphasis on sexual interaction in this book and while I appreciated it, because it was dealing with Garrick's physical and mental state resulting his spinal cord injury, at times it felt a bit much. They had many interactions as friends - which was great! But something was still missing or maybe there was too much time "in their head" dealing with the same insecurities especially concerning if they can hope for more from each other.
So while I enjoyed the interaction between the guys, enjoyed seeing that while Rain helped Garrick whenever and however he can, Garrick took care of Rain in his own way - the exact way Rain needed and didn't even know he needed or was able to ask. They took the time exploring the friendship they have found in each other which was truly endearing and yet I didn't find this book as captivating as I wished it would be.
It's a rounded up 4 stars rating for me as I was getting frustrated with the pace and redundant inner dialogue. But I still recommend this book, I think it was different, it was tender and sweet, yet it was kinky and fun. I really appreciate Annabeth for bringing to the table such a difficult issue as spinal cord injury, the realness of the situation for Garrick, what he had to deal with, what he needed to do and what he needed to accept. It wasn't all pink and bubbly - far from it. It was realistic and at times harsh. In a word it was REALISTIC and the romance aspect was exactly what this realness needed.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Hotshots is a Contemporary Romance series by Annabeth albert. Following Smoke Jumpers battling not only fires but also finding love. In all installments the struggle is internal - giving the relationship a true chance - but the circumstances were totally different. Linc and Jacob knew each other most of their lives but Jacob's brother and Linc's best friend was what kept them apart (even after his death) and also Linc accepting the age difference between them is not actually an issue. In the second installment there is also a big age difference but the real issue lies in believing in themselves and each other what they found together can last and not only because of the issues Garrick was dealing with as a result of a work accident. In the third two lost loves finally re-connect when Luis is "on lend" in Oregon, but what happens when his time/job is over? The last one (currently) for me was the best one and I couldn't be more surprised with such a main focus on an "oops" baby and two guys taking care of her and somehow forming a family.
while this is a series I don't think you need to read these by order. While the other firefighters are mentioned the focus is mostly on the couple and what they were dealing with.
For me this wasn't one of the best series by Annabeth though I enjoyed most of them. I took my time with before delving into the 4th exactly for that reason and I stand correctly as it was a clear favorite. Generally speaking these have a more slower pace.
1. Burn Zone [Lincoln Reid & Jacob Hartman] (Published 27 April 2020) ★★★★½
2. High Heat [Garrick Nelson & Rain Fisher] (Published 27 July 2020) ★★★★
3. Feel the Fire [Tucker Ryland & Luis Riviera] (Published 26 October 2020) ★★★
4. Up in Smoke [Brandt Wilder & Shane Travis] (Published 27 April 2021) ★★★★★