Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter. When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…
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Annabeth can be found online at annabethalbert.com, @annabethalbert on Twitter, and Facebook.com/annabethalbert.
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By Annabeth Albert
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Annabeth Albert
All rights reserved.
So, what's your plan this year?" Cliff asked as we unloaded pallets of food for Victory Mission. The stinging December wind whipped through the loading dock, howling against the concrete walls. I had to strain to hear Cliff's booming voice. "Sky diving? Marathon? How you gonna top last year, Vic?"
"Dunno." I hefted a box of tomato sauce cans. That's what everyone wanted to know—how I was going to top last year's resolution to lose a hundred pounds. Truth was, I was pretty good at resolutions. Four years ago, I'd resolved to go to culinary school. Three years ago, I gave up smoking. And last year I lost 111 pounds. But this year I had a smaller, simpler goal in mind.
"Thought I might try dating."
"Dating? As in a boyfriend?" Cliff snorted, a dry sound that echoed off the metal loading bay doors. "I'd go with a marathon."
My stomach churned as I grabbed another box of rolls. I had my own doubts. I was hardly a prize catch. I hadn't dated anyone in the four years I'd been working for Cliff. Never had a boyfriend beyond the rare three-peat hookup. 'Course, Cliff didn't know about my hookups, but I hadn't even had one of those in eight long months. Up until a few months ago, I hadn't realized what I was missing. Ever since then, this weird, restless longing had plagued me. New Year's was the perfect excuse to do something about it. Get out there.
"You guys done out here? Whole stack of boxes waiting inside. We don't have all day." Robin bustled out onto the dock, bringing a shit-ton of bad mood with him. A far cry from the sunny, talkative guy who made me think crazy thoughts, like that maybe dating wasn't a terrible idea. He was gone before either Cliff or I could reply.
"What's up with him?" I asked Cliff once I heard the pantry door shut inside.
"Melissa said Paul broke up with him." Cliff always found the gossip. The food bank volunteers were like bored high schoolers, passing rumors around their shifts like joints at a party.
"Finally." I didn't realize I'd said the word aloud until Cliff laughed.
"Aha! On second thought, I highly approve of your resolution. I'm gonna have to get a bet going with Trish about whether or not you can land your man. Talk about aiming high though, kid."
"Didn't say anything about dating Robin," I mumbled into a sack of rice. The last time Robin was single, I had spent months thinking about him. Wondering if he was out of my league. Knowing he was out of my league but trying to work up the courage to ask him out anyway. Coming to volunteer more often just to be around him. Then Paul swooped in like a star pitcher and sent me back to the minor leagues, where I belonged.
I readjusted my grip on the sack so I wouldn't accidentally tear the darn thing in two. No, I wasn't stupid enough to make a resolution to date Robin. I just wanted to get out there. Give myself a chance to maybe meet a nice guy who wouldn't care about my food issues and my loose skin and my bald-by-choice look.
But now that Cliff had planted the dating-Robin idea in my brain, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Which irked the hell out of me. I'd worked hard to deep-six my crush on him. Finding out he was single was a stupid reason to unearth it. Robin was the nice guy of my fantasies. And fucking gorgeous. He was sex walking around in KEENs and hipster T-shirts. He was everything I wanted and everything I wasn't ever going to have.
I ran into Robin an hour later in the pantry room, where he was doing inventory. The pantry room was where the shelter stored all the supplies needed to provide two meals a day for the ever-increasing numbers of Portland's homeless.
"Sorry 'bout earlier." Robin looked up from his clipboard, giving me a sheepish smile. A Robin smile was like sun glinting off the Columbia: it never failed to dazzle me. The pale pink of his lips was a soft contrast to his honey-colored skin. When his wide lips curved, revealing perfect white teeth, my stomach did a happy little flip. The sun had returned.
"No biggie. Heard you're having a rough day." I lined up cans of tomato soup, trying hard not to look at him. I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable. I'd be climbing the metal shelving or hiding behind the stacks of boxes if I were the one being gossiped about.
"Yeah. Sorry. I shouldn't be taking it out on people here." He passed me the clipboard so I could log in what I unpacked. While I started logging, he grabbed a box cutter and opened more of the boxes Cliff and I had unloaded.
"Hey, you're allowed to be human." I shot him what I hoped passed for an understanding smile. "And go you for tossing that pompous ass."
"Actually, it was the other way around." Robin's expression was tight, pained.
"Shit. Sorry. Didn't mean—"
"No. It's okay." He waved away my apology. "He was stuck up. I think Melissa was relieved when he didn't show up with me today."
I nodded, not sure what to say. I didn't want to trash the dude if Robin still had feelings for him.
"You're better off without him." When in doubt, go big on cliché. I fell back on my ma's old trick.
"Eh. I figure I had it coming. Better now than later, though, you know?"
"Anyway, I'm done with boyfriends now. D-O-N-E. Done." He punctuated his words with jabs of the box cutter into the box he was opening. His actions and words were firm, but the look in his eyes was uncertain.
Having a boyfriend had suited Robin. He'd been all smiles and lightness around Paul the Jerk. Seeing them together had made me start to want someone, too. Someone to share inside jokes with, someone to watch TV with, someone to sneak little touches and dirty looks with in public.
Hell, someone to talk to would be enough of a novelty for me. Every now and then I'd get to chatting with a guy online and think maybe we'd hit it off. But then we'd hook up, and as soon as the fucking was over, he'd beat feet to get out of my place. It seemed like the more good-looking the dude, the faster he was on his feet.
But Robin was fucking gorgeous and most days he liked talking to me. We both liked action movies and blues music, and somehow we always ended up gabbing politics, but there was always this easiness to our conversations, like we'd been having them for years and years.
As usual, thinking about Robin and what a great guy he was had me asking my favorite question: what would he be like in bed? He'd probably talk to me there, too. He'd be the type to hang out and talk after the sexing was done. He'd ask about my day and tell me about his, and maybe we'd even talk about making plans and about when we might get together next. I got hard just thinking about it. I had to distract myself with straightening soup cans.
Bingo. That was what Robin needed. A distraction.
"Hey, you got plans for tomorrow night? Got a New Year's party to be at?" I asked. Wouldn't surprise me if he had some fancy shindig to attend. I didn't know a whole lot about Robin's life outside of volunteering, but I knew he came from money; his high-end clothes and the Beamer he drove said that.
"Nah. I'll probably come down here for part of the evening. It's always crazy here New Year's."
"You can do better than that. How about you come out? Some of my buddies are doing a pub crawl. Get out there. Get over what's-his-face. Party at CC Slaughters's supposed to be epic."
"Oh. Uh." Robin swallowed hard, his hands moving restlessly against the row of oatmeal containers he'd been counting. "Thanks, but parties really aren't my thing. Don't drink anymore."
I fumbled the can I'd been stacking. Hell. I'd known him two years now, and for all he liked to run off at the mouth he'd never mentioned it, but still I should have guessed.
"Shit. I'm sorry. I didn't think. You in recovery?"
"Yeah." Robin went back to unpacking. The fluorescent lights made his honey-colored skin look sallow—or maybe he was turning green because of what I'd said.
How had I missed the clues? He'd never once mentioned bars—and he'd never once missed a shift. A lot of the most dedicated volunteers at the shelter were former homeless themselves, or recovering addicts seeking to pay back help they'd gotten. While open to all, the shelter had a particular focus on teens and young adults who often slipped through the cracks at the larger organizations. I'd discovered the shelter through a booth at Pride and convinced my boss Cliff to participate; the bakery always had food to donate.
We worked without talking for a few minutes, and while the silence wasn't exactly uncomfortable, I felt the sting of a blown chance. I shoved the cans a bit harder than I should have and a stack collapsed. Time to start over.
It occurred to me—too late again—that I'd never really done this. Never asked a guy out. Never liked a guy enough to try. Oh, I knew my way around an Internet chat room, but real world? Robin was the first "real-life" guy I'd ever felt inspired to ask.
But now I'd blown it and I didn't know how to fix it. Not to mention my timing was really lousy; I should have waited until Paul was a distant, bitter memory, but I reserved patience for drop lines and sugar flowers, not social conventions.
"How long?" I asked.
"Two years, 363 days." He winked, a trace of his usual humor shining through. "Best resolution I ever made."
A fellow resolution keeper. My chest felt warm with empathy for his hard road. My successes were like speed bumps to his Mount Hood of triumph.
"That's awesome, man. And good on you for coming down here tomorrow."
"It'll be a long night." He shrugged, showing off his surprisingly delicate collarbones, matched by eyes filled with an unexpected fragility.
"I bet." I wanted to ask if he'd be okay, but we weren't really that kind of friends. I wasn't sure I could ask without looking like even more of an ass. But I knew how brutal anniversaries could be.
Later, as I walked out to my beat-up old Civic, I hunkered into my jacket to ward off the chill and told myself to go back to my previous plan. Make a profile on an actual dating site, not one of the quick hookup places. Find some guy, one who wouldn't be anything like Robin, with his wide smiles and silky brown hair and ...
Fuck it. My hands clenched tight around the door handle. I knew exactly what my resolution was. Come hell or high water, I was going to be Robin Dawson's rebound guy. And I was going to change his mind about boyfriends.CHAPTER 2
Next day I had a plan, but I played it cool, surveying the racks of bread and pastries waiting for their turn in the too-full front cases. As I'd hoped, the oven-room staff had been overzealous again. We were closed New Year's day, so a lot of stuff would have to be marked as day-old or tossed.
"Want me to make a run over to the shelter?" I asked Trish. "I can do it after I deliver the Russo's cake." She was finishing up the groom's cake for the Russo-Smith wedding.
"Didn't you guys take them stuff yesterday?" Trish didn't look up from the chocolate fondant she was positioning over the diamond-shaped cake.
"Oh, he's got good reason to go back," Cliff butted in. He stopped cleaning the middle worktable and smirked.
"Shut your trap," I ribbed him in our usual good-natured way, but I shot him a look that said I could make all sorts of revelations of my own if he didn't shut up. With the Russo-Smith cake finished and safely stowed in the walk-in, I started putting away my decorating tools.
"You still coming out later? James'll be disappointed if you bail." Cliff ran a hand over his thinning hair. James was Cliff's brother—a sweet guy with an even sweeter husband who always tried to include me in their social circle. I was the Delgado family pet as far as Cliff and James were concerned.
"I'll be along." I wanted to check on Robin to make sure he wasn't too down, but I didn't expect him to give me a reason to skip James's annual New Year's Eve pub crawl.
"Speaking of bailing, I've got Blazers tickets next week. Thought Eddie and me would go, but he's got a school thing. You want them?"
"Sure. Both? You don't want the second?"
"Why don't you see what sort of magic you can work, resolution boy." Cliff kept his voice oh-so-light and innocent, like he wasn't matchmaking hard.
Gray-streaked red hair bouncing, Trish laughed like she was in on the joke; she was good at that, picking up on Cliff's signals. She'd pull the whole story out of her husband five minutes after I was gone.
And while I didn't doubt that sixteen-year-old Eddie had better things to do than hang with his old man, Cliff's reasons for offering the tickets were obvious. He was checking up on me, same as I wanted to do for Robin. Cliff knew how hard January sucked for me. Despite my resolution successes, January was filled with soul-sucking loss for me. It was the month I'd lost my dad three years ago. The month I'd landed alone and uncertain at culinary school, missing my old friends from the mortgage industry and not sure why in the hell I'd believed I could turn an unemployment check into a new career.
And last year it was the month I'd lost Manny, my cousin, my best friend, the brother I should have had. Manny had a heart attack the day after Christmas. Died on the operating table on January 7th, thirty-three years old. I'd been at my surgeon's office three days later. First my dad. Then my uncle. Then Manny. I didn't need a crystal ball to tell me the heart disease gene was coming for me next. Letting a surgeon put a band around my stomach was a radical way of dealing with grief, but I'd always been a go-big kind of guy.
I left the bakery without killing Cliff for his meddling and headed out on my delivery route. Two hours later, I arrived at Victory Mission still in my bakery whites. I carried a stack of three large pink bakery boxes and two smaller ones with treats for Robin and Melissa. Melissa was the director of the mission and plenty nice, but honestly, her treat was the decoy. I couldn't waltz in there with a treat just for Robin.
As luck would have it, she and Robin were both in the staff room when I came in. Robin wasn't staff, but he was there so frequently that Melissa often joked about him being employee of the year.
"This is a surprise!" She greeted me with a big gardenia-scented hug. I hugged back gingerly, careful of her pregnant belly. She set the boxes on the metal folding table in the center of the room, lifting the lid off one of the big boxes. "Pastries! And we can sure use these tonight!"
"Here, this one's just for you." I held out one of the smaller boxes.
"Oh, wow!" She opened it to reveal one of our famous oversize cupcakes buried under a ridiculous pile of butter-cream icing and topped with one of my sugar flowers. Those were my specialty. I had large ham hands with thick fingers, but give me a piping bag or some spun sugar and I went into a weird zone where everything slowed down and it was just me and the sugar and the quest for perfection.
"The baby's going to like this." Melissa patted her round belly. Her smile was worth all the hours I'd put in last night, getting the flowers perfect for the Russo wedding cake and making sure there were extras for the goodies in the display case.
"Brought you something, too." I held out the other box for Robin. "Stuff can't last till Friday. Thought you might need a snack...." I was babbling, regretting the gesture even before he opened the box with his elegant, piano-player fingers. I should have just stuffed some cannoli in there.
"Holy crap. This is too pretty to eat." Robin's eyes went wide and his smile seemed dipped in glitter dust.
Okay. I lied. Melissa's appreciation was nothing compared to Robin's look of awe. His cupcake was a bit of whimsy I'd been experimenting with. Instead of flowers, I'd shaped spun sugar into butterflies, wings airbrushed and gilded with little flecks of blue and gold.
"Better not let it go to waste." My voice was a bit too gruff, but he was damn well going to eat the chocolate devil's food cupcake with ganache filling that lay under the butterfly.
"Okay, boss." He grinned at me, all teeth and sass. "You able to stay for dinner?"
"Sure I can." I rolled up my sleeves and followed them out to the kitchen. The building had been a factory in its previous life, which meant big spaces but only the bare minimum amenities. Four commercial ranges, each from a different decade, held giant vats of spaghetti.
After we helped the other volunteers get the warming pans filled, Melissa assigned me to the dining room. Food was served cafeteria style, but volunteers staffed the tables, trying to give a more "family" dining experience. Other volunteers circulated among the tables, offering bread baskets and pamphlets about the mission's services. Most people took the rolls and declined the chitchat, but every now and then I'd get a talky table. Sometimes they'd just want to listen to some little story of mine, like a ruined cake or a memory of my dad's burned coffee. I wasn't anywhere near the storyteller Dad had been, but I tried to make things funny and light for my table. Getting people fed, making them laugh—for me it was better than a plate of warm pasta.
Excerpted from Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert. Copyright © 2015 Annabeth Albert. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This one was a bit heavier towards the second half because of the problems at the shelter. But it was still a great read and it was wonderful to watch Vic support Robin through everything and get Robin to realize it’s ok to lean on someone else. I would have loved to have dual POVs as I feel this often makes a book stronger. We still understand Robin really well but I love being in the head of both main characters because you really come to understand and love them. Robin’s reluctance to trust Vic to help when Robin’s at his lowest was a little frustrating but not over the top. Vic has gone through lap band surgery to lose weight and he’s a bit self-conscience about his body. He’s a large man to begin with and though he works out now, he does have some extra skin and he has to be very careful about what he eats. I liked having a character who was “newly attractive” and still learning to accept his new self. Robin used to be an addict before the shelter helped him and because of his lifestyle as a teenager he has trouble with intimacy. He was always high when he had sex in the past and now he finds it hard to have sex sober and this is the cause of his recent breakup. Vic was such a great guy about all of this; he just wanted Robin to be happy and was willing to go as slow as Robin needed to make sure it was great for him.
I seriously loved this second book in the series. It isn't all sunshine and roses but it is wonderful. Both Robin and Vic are full of self doubt and depredation. Neither can believe they are really worthy of love and happiness, but boy can they see it in the other. I love that Robin would've fallen for Vic even before his surgery and weight loss and that Vic wanted Robin despite his past. The very things that were holding these two in fear were non-issues for the other. I was impressed that while Vic didn't think he had the perfect words to take Robin's pain and doubt away, his honest, heartfelt confession was. Just freakin' fantastic. Recommended Author and series Adult read
Vic Degrassi would love nothing more than to make Robin Dawson his. But Vic is a man haunted by the cruel specter of his past. Just a year into his new, post gastric surgery body. Vic has not come to terms with the 'new him'. Making matters worse for Vic are the recent deaths of his father, uncle, and cousin from heart disease. The two things that Vic is sure about however, are his skill as a patissier and his feelings for Robin Dawson. For his part... Robin too, is a man haunted by his past. A man trying not to let anyone get too close. Trying to outrun the shame of a past fueled by his addiction to alcohol and drugs. A past filled with deeds and consequences that he would do anything to forget. A past that he will come face to face with during his service at the homeless shelter where both men volunteer. Vic Degrassi and Robin Dawson are the perfect blend of sweet brokenness. Each in need of what the other is more than willing to give. Each afraid to let the other see just how far the hurt, insecurities, and self doubt that plagues them both really goes. While Fresh Baked is for the most part a light and steamy male/male romance. Authoress Annabeth Albert makes great use of back story to bring darker emotionally and socially relevant issues to the fore. The strength and fortitude that both Robin and Vic embody is brilliantly juxtaposed against their tender hearts and vulnerable psyches. When this is coupled with their undeniable sexual chemistry. What you have is the stuff of contemporary romantic dreams. You go boys! Reviewer's Note: This is the second book in the companion series Portland Heat. This series can be read any order. I received this eARC in exchange for the honest review provided. Thanks to Edelweiss and Kensington
Great story and wonderful characters.
Baked Fresh was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was a M/M Romance, which I have never read; now, now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved this book and will be looking forward to the next one! This book had me wanting to more as I continued reading, there was enough suspense in the story that begged you to wanting more. I don’t think I could have read it faster. The romance was great, it was like a traditional novel but with more raw emotions, if that makes sense. Of course the sex scenes wasn’t of the “normal” but it was still just as hot. All the characters was very well developed, the main ones had issues, but of course they overcame all the bumps in the road. Vic has such a big heart, and wants to help everyone. Vic just doesn’t realized how much he has to let go of until he is able to love again. Robin is looking for rebound, but has a lot of issues that need to be taken care of, he needs patience, guidance, and love. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who loves romance, and even if you never read a M/M Romance, maybe give this one a shot like I did!
The second in the Portland Heat series, Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert does work well alone: the two factors that tie the titles in the series are the location of Portland Oregon and the Male / Male romance themes. Focusing on different professions and areas within the city, Albert has presented a nice slice of Portland that incorporates the foodie feel of the town while giving a glimpse into it’s residents. In Baked Fresh, we meet Vic and Robin. Vic is on a self-improvement campaign, he’s lost over 100 pounds, and has been trying to get into better shape, even though he has self-image issues. In his early 30’s, he’s had his eye on Robin, who he met through his volunteer work at the shelter. Robin is 23, an ex-addict with issues from a recent relationship breakdown and his own problems with sexual addiction / rejection and compulsions. Really working on himself and his own issues, a relationship is the furthest thing from his mind. In a vastly different approach from the first book, the sexual element in this story is far more prevalent, and I found that the connection between the characters, for me, was far more physical than emotional. This was two broken / damaged people who, with the best intentions are trying to make a life together, but there just is something not quite present in the mix. Whether it’s the age or the issues, and a bit too much of Vic’s quick conclusions and Robin’s manipulative and attention seeking immaturity that had me rolling my eyes more than once. I loved that Vic wanted to help, but Robin’s need to push-pull-direct every situation except in the bedroom where he was anything goes just felt unnatural. While this wasn’t a bad read for me, it just didn’t work as well as Served Hot for me in terms of character development, perhaps because so much of the interactions between Vic and Robin felt as if they were centered around sex, rather than honest sharing of feelings. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series. Both Vic and Robin had self-esteem issues that prevent them for going for what they want. They're love story progresses slowly as Vic helps Robin with his issues. There are some very tender moments between the two as well as some hot and sexy scenes. By the end, Robin's love helps Vic overcome his body image issues. I'd love to see more of this couple in future books! ARC via NetGalley
fourstars There is discussion of drug abuse in this story. Such a sweet story. This struck me more like a coming of age book rather than a romance, per se. I loved how Vic was known for his resolutions. I thought that was such a unique character strength. He was kind, but not without a back bone. Then there was Robin. A kindhearted, somewhat broken character who I felt was so sweet and innocent. He was able to really connect with those who were coming to the center for help. Despite the issues that Robin had, Vic was able to show him that he was helping the kids - he was making a difference. While this was a short story, the ending was so sweet. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. ~AvidReader
The Portland Heat series continues with this romantic tale of two men from very different worlds who connect through their mutually painful pasts. Both have been hurt by past relationships, and while one wants to run from commitment the other craves it. This leads to a sweet yet steamy and deeply intense road to HEA full of speed bumps that had me blushing one moment and rooting for Robin and Vic's happiness the next. Vic's always had issues with his weight but found his niche in the dating world despite it. These relationships though were quick and left him cold. With his health in jeopardy he completely changed his way of life through surgery, exercise, and creating baked goods instead of eating them. He also decides he's had enough of one-night stands, especially after a negative reaction to his body post-surgery. The reaction fed into his already low self-esteem and has him doubting his attraction and ability to be with the man who's been his dream man for the last year...Robin. To be with Robin though he'll do whatever it takes....even be just his friend or just his friend with benefits. It all leads to a rocky relationship that's both sweet and sexy with Vic the clear caretaker, supporting Robin through the emotional upheavals being thrown at him. I adored Vic and could relate to his body image issues. His inner dialogue regarding his looks was at times funny but heartfelt and heartbreaking too which endeared him to me even more. Robin's young but lived a life too full of poor choices and bad relationships that have left him cold and unwilling to keep putting his heart on the line. He's kicked drugs but still struggles with the pain of watching others fall as low as he did. His past has left him with low self-esteem and an inability to trust and enjoy being with someone else. He's decided that he's done with relationships but Vic is a sugary sweet temptation whose caring side confuses him as well as calls to him. Their relationship may start out casual but it's clear that it's destined to become more. Theirs is a connection that is deep but unspoken in many ways. Robin's past may be ugly but it's left him happy and full of life. He sees the possibilities in many things. He has a big heart and is just as caring as Vic which makes their time together so joyful to see. As Robin's past creeps ever closer though, will he run from Vic or straight into his open arms? Loosely connected to the previous installment in this series, this book can definitely be read on its own. The main characters are sweet and immensely likable with issues easy to relate to. Their relationship is both sweet yet full of super steamy encounters bordering on light bdsm. Though their relationship progresses nicely and maturely there is a silly misunderstanding late in the story that felt unnecessary and marred the beauty of their burgeoning relationship. Overall this was an immensely enjoyable story with likable main characters, colorful and memorable secondary ones, and a romance that brought a smile to my face as well as making me blush. Fans of the m/m genre will find this a fun read and Ms. Albert a talent to keep an eye on.
M/M - Hope, Trust and Self-Forgiveness. Stand Alone. No Cliffs. BAKED FRESH (Portland Heat, # 2) by Annabeth Albert April 14, 2015 Publisher: Lyrical Press 131 pages, approximately Romance: Contemporary, Gay, M/M ** Provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review. ** -- MY THOUGHTS -- Judging a Book by it's Cover: Cover art is visually appealing. I do like the more translucent title banner of SERVED HOT a little better than this one. This one is a bit too opague, obscuring the view and hindering the emotional effect portrayed in the fisting of the clothing. The synopsis is flirty and teasing without giving it all away. It intrigues and pulls you in. The story is much more complex, however. Looking Deeper: First-person POV, Vic's perspective. Note: Do not get Robby from book one confused with Robin here. ;) Vic and Robin both suffer their own demons and insecurities, but a fake relationship and growing attraction bring them together, at least for now. Vic wants to be more than just the rebound guy though, he wants to be Robin's everything. These characters have such heartwarming, endearing characters, even flawed as they are. The secondary characters add depth and provide good support to an already sturdy lead couple. The plot itself was a bit thin, but that's often the case with shorter stories. The overall feel was fairly light even though much of the book revolved around "issues" they each were trying to work through. The conflicts were resolved well and the conclusion was solid, leaving no cliffhangers. This story CAN stand on it's own, there's only the briefest mention/scene from the SERVED HOT couple and can easily be read through without having read the first book. Another great story from Ms. Albert regarding hope, trust and second chances. ------------------------ Heat Level: 5 Not suitable for all audiences: graphic M/M sexual content ------------------------ Score: 4.3 Stars: 4 ----------------------- Tina J / Happily Ever Chapter Reviewing for: Tangled Hearts and Boxer Briefs and Smut Book Junkie Reviews
4 Stars! I enjoyed this story. This is only the second M/M romance that I have read with the other story being the first in this series, Served Hot. I thought that this story was just the right combination of sweet and sexy just like the first in the series. This story could easily be read as a stand alone since the stories really don't overlap at all with the exception of a appearance of the couple from the first novella in one scene. This is a rather short piece that most readers will be able to finish in a couple of hours but it tells such a completely wonderful story. This story focuses on Vic and Robin and is told from Vic's point of view. Vic is a baker and the bakery where he works donates food to the local shelter. Robin spends a lot of time at the shelter as a volunteer. Vic has had a crush on Robin for quite some time but he has never acted on it. When Vic finds out the Robin and his boyfriends have broken up, he decides to take a chance. Vic has recently underwent a lot of changes. He made the decision to lose weight after the death of several family members and he ended up losing over 100 pounds. His self esteem isn't great but he is willing to take a chance with Robin. He decides that he is willing to be the rebound guy for Robin if that is what it takes to be with him. Robin has been through a lot as well. The shelter is incredibly important to him. He had no idea that Vic has had a crush on him. He decides to spend some time with Vic and the pair seem to work well together. Both of these men have been through a lot in their lives and they end up being very supportive of each other. I liked both of the characters even though there was a lot of issues with self esteem. I think that a lot of people have these issues in real life and I thought it was presented in these characters very authentically. There seemed to be a much larger focus on sex in this story than in the first. These characters had a lot of chemistry and worked well together. I would recommend this story to fans of M/M romance. This novella really tells such a full story in just a few pages. I can't wait to read the next installment in this wonderful little series. I received a copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
The heat has definitely turned up a notch in this sexy m/m contemporary romance featuring Robin and Vic. Vic is older by a decade or so and has been through several changes in the last few years, most of his own making including losing 100+ pounds and getting into decent shape. He's decided to try dating again and has his sights set on Robin, a few years his junior but someone he's lusted after since meeting and a man who is now free, having been dumped by his last boyfriend. Robin has confidence issues, with the breakup of his relationship and his struggles with addiction, though he's been clean for the last 3 years. Volunteering at a local shelter helps keep him focused and Vic's interest in him is heartening. But can a rebound relationship heal his heart and give them both something to build a future on? I quite enjoyed this story. Both characters were interesting and likeable, each having their own self esteem issues and problems from the past that make them believable and acceptable to finding someone to care about. The sexual relationship between them is easy for both of them to fall into, and has a definite dominant/submissive feel to it as Vic strives to provide for Robin, both in the bedroom and out. The sex scenes are hot and steamy, but they aren't enough to make a relationship work long term and while Vic has put his cards out on the table, it's up to Robin to decide if he's willing to invest in something long-term. I liked the two of them together, their relationship based initially on friendship and moving forward into something more intense. There are some humorous scenes as well as tension filled ones as life ebbs and flows around them. Overall, it was an entertaining and enjoyable read. 4 stars.