Sure, Chris O’Neal has problems. His restaurant is still co-owned by his ex. His flannel-and-tattoos style is making him accidentally trendy. He can’t remember the last time he went out and had fun. But he’s not lonely, he’s driven. And the hot bakery delivery boy is not his problem, no matter how sweet his buns.
Chris is old enough to know Lance Degrassi’s sculpted good looks and clever double entendres spell nothing but trouble. Lance is still in college—he should be hitting the clubs and the books, chasing guys his own age, not pursuing some gruff motorcycle-riding workaholic. Especially when he’ll be leaving for grad school in a few months. But Lance keeps hanging around, lending a hand, charming Chris to distraction. Maybe some steaming hot no-strings indulgence won’t hurt.
Then again, maybe it will…
About the Author
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.
The delivery boy had sweet buns. Not to mention prize-winning rolls. He wore a pair of those fancy over-the-ear headphones and shimmied around the white bakery truck, his hips and ass working in time to what was apparently a killer beat. Even the way he climbed into the back of the truck was a choreographed dance. I wasn't usually one to get distracted by eye candy, but that ass ...
I'd propped open the service door at the rear of my coffee shop about fifteen minutes earlier, hoping to coax a cool breeze into the stuffy storeroom where I'd been working. I leaned against the door frame, appreciating the unexpectedly fine view in the alley.
When the guy emerged from the truck—headphones around his neck, carrying a stack of pink boxes—I pushed away from the door and met him at the edge of the concrete steps. I tried to play it cool, like I hadn't spent the last five minutes perving on his world-class bubble butt.
"You're not Vic," I said as I ushered him into the hallway that led back to the kitchen and storeroom.
"Nope. I'm Lance, Vic's cousin. I'll be handling your deliveries from here on out." His smile—a wide, toothy grin—was almost as adorable as his butt. The only resemblance he had to my usual beefy delivery guy was in the chiseled facial features and light olive skin. He looked like he'd be right at home playing World Cup soccer for Italy with his wide shoulders, lean torso, muscular thighs and legs. And that ass.
Which I was going to stop thinking about right the hell now. He was too young—I could see that even more clearly under the fluorescent lights of my kitchen. Early twenties, if that. His gelled-up black hair fell across his forehead in artfully bleached strands. Too high maintenance for my taste.
"I'm Chris O'Neal. Here, let me help you with those." Taking part of the stack from him, I showed him the metal racks where I stashed recent deliveries.
"Nice setup you've got here." Lance looked around the cramped but efficient kitchen area.
"Thanks." Most of The People's Cup square footage was devoted to the coffee bar and seating area in the front, so I made do in the back with my organization system, which bordered on the obsessive. I'd installed floor-to-ceiling shelving on every wall, including over the cooktop and counters. The center prep table was where most of the action happened, and its broad expanse was covered with the beginnings of several dishes for tomorrow's Sunday brunch.
"I've been here before with friends from PSU—for your Sunday thing. And during the week once or twice to study."
I made a noncommittal noise. Great. A college kid. As if I needed to feel like more of an old, cranky perv.
"Let's get the rest of the boxes." I herded him back out to the alley. I was eager to get him and his distracting ass on his way. I had several more hours of staging work ahead of me to prepare for Sunday's buffet. During the week we were just another coffeehouse, but we were known all over Portland for our Sunday brunch.
"So are you the owner? This all yours?" Lance asked as he got another load of boxes from the truck.
"Yeah. Mine and my partner's. Business partner." I fumbled the stack of boxes he handed me. Why had it felt so necessary to make that qualification? Like the kid would be in any way interested in my messed-up business relationship with my stubborn bastard of an ex.
Despite his pretty-boy looks, the kid was probably straight; he had a confident swagger girls his age likely found irresistible.
"I've been to your other place, too—the one in Northwest. Did the delivery there earlier. I like this location better."
"Me too," I said, my voice drier than gin. "Randy give you any issues?"
Randy had his location; I had mine. Our relationship had turned into something out of a bad chick flick, except there wasn't any cute ending coming.
"Randy? Nah. It was some girl named Becky, with a nose ring and huge gauges."
I nodded. That sounded about right for Randy's taste. And I was not going to care whether he was banging her or how long she'd last as an employee. His shitty employee turnover wasn't my problem. I'd washed my hands of what happened at the 23rd Street store.
"You want a cup of coffee for the road?" I asked before I could stop myself. It was the same courtesy I'd always extended to his cousin and to most of our other delivery people, but somehow my offer felt tinged with more than politeness.
"What do you have on offer today?" His grin was more than a little wicked.
Wouldn't you like to know? I bit back the flirtatious retort. And what the hell was up with that? I did not flirt. Hell, anything other than bitter and grumpy hadn't been my MO for months now.
"We've got a fair-trade artisanal Guatemalan roast and a small-batch single origin Ethiopian Duromina that's been flying out."
"I'll try the Ethiopian. Thanks."
"Here, follow me to the front and I'll grab it for you."
Late Saturday afternoon the front of the house was almost deserted. The coffee bar ran along one side of the high-ceilinged room and seating dominated the rest of the space—long wooden communal tables in the back, a few smaller tables in the middle, and couches up front. Two die-hard regulars worked on laptops in the cushy chairs by the front window, while Brady, the barista, wiped down the coffee bar.
"How's the leg?" I asked Brady as I cut behind him to the line of carafes with the day's roasts.
"Hanging in there." His pained expression belied his words. He'd had a nasty skateboard wipeout the day before and still had road rash on one side of his face and his left arm.
"Want me to close?" It'd put me further behind on prep, but I hated seeing Brady in pain.
"Nah." His shrug made him wince.
"Okay. Just don't play hero ball. We're slow. Take a break if you need to." I pulled a cup of coffee for Lance. Grabbed one for me, too; I had a long evening ahead. I came around the coffee bar to hand Lance his cup.
"Are you one of those coffee purist guys who'll laugh if I ask where the creamer is?" Lance asked, accepting the cup.
"It's against the wall." I pointed. "And yes. Total coffee purist, but knock yourself out ruining the best cup of joe in town."
"Ha." As I watched him ruin the Ethiopian with a huge dose of coconut creamer and four sugar packets, I smirked. His usual drink was probably a blended mocha. "I'd better get the truck back to the bakery."
"I'll walk you out." I followed him back to the kitchen, working double-time not to look at his butt.
Pausing at the service door, Lance gave me that toothy grin, filled with sass and challenge. "Too bad your barista's hurt. He's cute. You and him a thing?"
Okay. Not so very straight. I ignored the flip in my stomach and the sudden interest from my dick. This news did not involve me.
"Brady? God, no. I don't mess with employees." Or delivery people.
Lance's smile got wider, more feline. Hell. I'd fallen right into whatever fishing expedition he'd been on. Couldn't be about me, though; I was probably a good twelve or fifteen years older than the kid.
"Brady would probably be flattered. He'll be working the breakfast shift tomorrow. You should come back around with your friends."
"And you? Will you be around?" His brown eyes glinted with predatory intent. His eyes were the exact color of my favorite roast—earthy and dark, with all sorts of possibilities.
Stomach fluttering, I braced a hand against the prep table. I'd always been drawn to confidence, and this kid had it in spades. "I'm always around. You take care now."
"Here." Lance fished in the pocket of his white bakery jacket and came up with a pen and a business card. He scribbled something on it and offered it to me. "In case you need something before next week."
I took the card. "I've already got the bakery's number."
"And now you have mine." He gave me a little wave before leaving.
Lord, that boy was trouble, but I was too old and jaded to get distracted by a nice ass and full pink lips. I hoped.CHAPTER 2
I made sure to let one of the baristas handle the midweek deliveries. I saw Lance in passing a few times but managed to keep things to me grunting out a greeting, then getting really busy in the kitchen or my office. Come Saturday, though, I was flat on my back under the big stainless sink, getting soaked by water that was spewing from the jumble of pipes. Dealing with cute delivery guys wasn't as big of a concern as being able to serve and prepare brunch tomorrow, the shop's biggest day of the week.
"Hey! Chris? You here?" Lance's too-chipper voice was like salt on my freshly scraped nerves.
"Over here." I blinked against the water spraying in my eyes.
"What the heck?" I heard shuffling sounds, and then Lance's face appeared next to mine. Way, way too close to mine.
"Just leave the stuff and go. I'm kind of in the middle of something here."
"I can see. But why haven't you turned off the water?"
"Can't you see that's what I'm trying to do?" I tried again to tighten the pipe with my shitty excuse for a wrench.
"I mean the water to the building? If you want to stop the spraying, you've got to shut off the main water."
"I was getting to that," I lied. Damn. I'd been so frustrated when I discovered the massive leak under the sink, I'd launched straight into damage control with buckets and my wrench and hadn't stopped to do the one thing that made sense.
"Tell me where it is. I'll go do it."
"Basement storeroom. The stairs are in the hallway."
"Got it. I'll be back."
"Shit. I'd better go tell Brady we're done for the day." I slid out from under the sink and took my wet and dripping self as far as the kitchen door, hollering to Brady to put up the CLOSED sign and head out.
"You need me to stay to help mop up?" Brady limped over to the door, his long black ponytail swinging behind him. His skateboarding injuries seemed a bit better, but he was still hobbled and had traces of bruises and scrapes on his face.
"Just clean the bar and go." I didn't need Brady getting underfoot while I sorted out the problem.
"You sure?" Brady frowned. Hell. He'd dragged himself into work hurt. We didn't really talk about personal stuff, but I knew he'd been jockeying for extra hours whenever he could.
"I'll pay you for the lost time." I rubbed the bridge of my nose.
"Okay. Water's off." Lance joined us in the kitchen. "Now let's check out your pipes."
Brady made a snorting sound.
"Get cleaning," I grumbled, then turned to Lance. "You don't have to stay. I've got it."
"Yeah, you seemed totally in control when I found you." Lance rolled his eyes at me and headed back over to the sink, which had blessedly stopped spewing water. He whipped off his bakery logo jacket and handed it to me, like I was his damned assistant. "My old man's a plumber. At least let me take a look."
"I said I've got it."
Ignoring me, he got down under the sink. "shit, it's wet down here. Okay. I think you've got a busted seal on this pipe, but the bigger issue might be your disposal."
"Hell." Both of those things seemed beyond my minimal plumbing skills. "How the fuck am I going to get someone here before tomorrow? Crap." I paced toward the other side of the kitchen, glaring at the wall phone, wondering who the hell I could call as my shoes made ominous squishing sounds in the puddles. Even if I managed to get things fixed, I had a long night of cleanup ahead.
I turned to look at him, my back muscles tightening, anything but relaxed.
Lance's hands gripped the sink's lower edge as he pulled himself out from the watery hell and stood, his smile as easy as his body's graceful motions. "I've got this."
I shook my head. I hated being dependent on anyone; it was why I mainly worked alone. Asking for help always made me feel like I was eleven again, managing to disappoint my father by failing some simple task. Over two decades later and I still pictured his scowl as I muddled through a problem.
Ignoring me, Lance fished an iPhone with a shiny red case out of his jeans and hit a button. "Hey! Pops! How's my favorite dad?"
Whatever the reply was, it made him laugh.
"Listen, I'm over at The People's Cup on Alberta, and they've got something of a situation going on—a plumbing emergency. You think when you're finished up on that job you could head over here? As a favor?"
The reply made him laugh harder. He had the best kind of laugh, deep and hearty.
"Yeah. I'll be there. No problem. See you soon." He ended the call and turned to me. "My dad's on the way."
"Thanks." The word tasted like sand in my mouth and was twice as hard to spit out.
"What? Grumpy man knows that word!" Dark eyes going wide with good humor, he put his hand over his chest.
"Grumpy man?" His cuteness made me feel even more ancient.
"If the scowl fits ..." He gave me a flirty little wink that had me wondering just how much sunshine he was sprinkling all over Portland. Did he flirt with everyone like this? Not that I was interested. Or jealous.
He squeezed the hem of his soaking T-shirt, wringing out some water, giving me a glimpse of tanned, toned abs. I looked away.
"I think your shirt is toast. Wait here." I ducked into the supply closet and grabbed a T-shirt from the box of People's Cup shirts our baristas all wore, which we sold up front for a little extra income. A free shirt was the least I could do for Lance. Seeing as my own shirt was plastered to my back, I grabbed a second for myself.
"Catch." I tossed the shirt at Lance. Before I could direct him to the restroom, he whipped his damp shirt off over his head.
"Oh, cool! Can I keep it?" Instead of immediately putting the shirt on, he held it out in front of him, like the black fabric and white block lettering was fine art.
"Sure." My own attention was riveted on the masterpiece of his chest. His face might be boyishly charming, but his body was all grown man: sculpted pecs and tight abs, with a tasty treasure trail of hair.
I might have made a growling noise. I hoped not, but from the way Lance's eyes widened, it was safe to say that my reaction didn't go unnoticed.
"Damn." Lance glanced down at himself. "I've really got to make time to get back to waxing."
"Don't." The word was out before I could stop it.
"Yeah? Well, of course, you like the fuzzy look." Laughing, he gestured at my beard.
Yeah, fuzz was something I had in spades, and something I dearly adored in other men. It was part of why I didn't usually go for twinks. Toned, tanned, and smooth didn't work for me as much as rugged, rough, and furry. I suppose if I had a type, I'd say it was guys like Randy. Silver foxes: guys with chiseled jaws and graying temples and hairy chests. Baby-faced boys like Lance hadn't cut it for me even when I'd been his age.
So why in the hell was my jaw currently on the floor and my tongue hanging out like a cartoon dog presented with a steak? Lance wasn't my type. But try telling that to my dick, which was jumping up like said dog. Bad dick. I looked away, counting jars of coconut oil on my shelves, while Lance pulled on the too-big shirt.
I turned my shirt over in my hands, wondering how much of a loser I'd look like if I ducked back into the supply room. I was seriously regretting my choice not to go upstairs to change. "Oh, come on." Lance rolled his eyes, like he knew exactly what I was thinking. He reached out, tugging my wet shirt away from my torso so he could peek underneath the damp cotton. "Oh my god. You have more ink than just your arms. You have to let me see."
"Stop that." I batted his hands away.
"Awww." He shot me a hurt look, like I'd just squashed his pet bumblebee. "I love your sleeves. I wanna see the rest."
"You like tattoos?" I asked, pulling off the soggy shirt. Other than tequila, the fastest way to get me out of my clothes was to talk ink.
"Oh, yeah." His teeth worried his lip as he took in my art: full sleeves on each arm, a scene that snaked up my torso, and another starting over my shoulder and continuing across my pecs. "You like fish or something?"
"I guess." I leaned back against the counter, trying to look casual. All of my tats were fish and water scenes. Big fish, little fish, a dolphin, lots of waves. The only nonfish piece was a little surfer dude riding the wave over my shoulder.
"They're like your spirit animal or something, huh?" His fingers twitched, like he was desperate to trace what he was looking at so intently.
Excerpted from Delivered Fast 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
134 p on my nook. M/M. HEA. Stand alone, but third in series. Complete characters with good development. Good pace. Sweet story. Have enjoyed every book of hers i have read.
I enjoyed this one, though not as much as Albert’s #gaymers series. I took a step out of my normal routine and read a series out of order (a big deal for me!) because I liked this plot line more than the previous two. That being said, I had no problem understanding the characters as this was pretty much a stand alone and I did buy the 1st and 2nd after finishing this one. Chris was more gruff but by no means was he grumpy and being around Lance brought out a more playful side. They were very sweet together and it was nice to see them learn to depend on each other. I loved how fun and energetic Lance was but at the same time he was very mature and had a good life plan for himself. Usually characters are just one or the other so it was nice to have this characterization. His maturity helped bridge the gap in ages between Lance and Chris. Though I enjoyed Chris’s point of view, I would have loved to also have Lance’s since I like to read both sides of a romance. But even with only one POV, we still get a lot of Lance through his actions. There were some instances where I wanted Chris to just get over his insecurities but for the most part I was fine with it.
Loved it! This May to December romance was a treat. Lance and Chris start out with a flirtation that leads to a fling that instantly changes to a friends with more relationship, but it becomes so much more. No matter how much Chris tries to keep his heart closed off, no matter how he wants Lance to have a life full of what he imagines Lance deserves he can't help falling completely. Lance is so young and yet he impresses me with his maturity. He knows what he wants and it's Chris and only Chris. Highly recommended author and series Adult read
So this fun read is great to curl up on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea (I don’t drink coffee) and just enjoy. Chris and Lance just work, Lance is young and fun, to Chris older and more stable. Making Lance grow up a little and Chris ease up a little. As we followed the journey from an ill planned one night stand to a budding relationship, and all the bumps and lumps that go with it. We find out more about what makes both of these people tick. How big Lance’s family really is. And how awful Chris’s was. And even a little more about Randy, the ex. The one thing that really bugged me how the age issue was brought up over and over. We get it, they had an age gap. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Crystals Many reviews
FourandHalfStars I loved this story. I always love reading about cities that I have either lived in or currently live in and hearing names that are familiar is always fun. Lance and Chris were such a great couple. I can totally see each of their perspectives too. Albert did an amazing job creating their relationship. Both were living their lives and when they come together, it's explosive and heart warming and even though it's quite fast, it totally fits their personalities. I really love Robby - his attitude throughout the book was awesome and I wanted to just squeeze him when he was telling Chris how it was. All around, I loved this book. It adds to the series and even though I don't necessarily think the romance was "fast", I can see why the title was delivered fast. I actually hoped that there would be more of an epilogue at the end and was slightly disappointed that we were not given more. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. AvidReader
The third I have read in this light and enjoyable M/M romance series based in Portland, this was my favorite of the three titles. Mainly because I liked the characters more, and could, despite some repetition of similes and angst, find some empathy in their situation. First for the characters: Chris is a little older and more seasoned, co-owner of a restaurant with his ex, he’s not been on the ‘circuit’ for a while. That doesn’t have him a monk, or immune to the cutie that is Lance, the bakery delivery boy with a body to die for and a seeming interest in him. But Lance is young and could find more excitement and enjoyment with people his own age. Chris is scared, the last relationship wasn’t great and he continues to sabotage this one, deliberately and not, because of that fear. And who hasn’t been there after a breakup? But Lance, perhaps because he is young, is oh so patient and willing to take the crumbs that Chris throws in hopes for more. It was a sweetly growing story with some stupid mistakes from Chris and no groveling (there should have been groveling) from him. Lance is adorable and positive, with a bit of the happy puppy air about him, perhaps this, in part, explains the frequent use of galloping. In fact, a search for overuse of particular words and a few less similes would have helped. Yes, I get it – this is essentially a foodie romance story, so food references are logical to expect, but sometimes they just feel forced. A series that is low stress and low drama (for the most part) and gives a nice sense of the Portland foodie scene and some of the men who meet and love there, Annabeth Albert has created a lovely mainstream M/M Romance series for those who enjoy the genre, or are just testing the water with same sex relationships. 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.
Since the release of the first book in the Portland Heat series, Ms. Albert's talent has become clearer with each successive book. On a whole this is a series defined by its storylines and characters that has given me hours of enjoyment. With this latest installment though, my favorite of the three, I was given a sweet and memorable read with characters who jumped off the page as they claimed my heart. Though the emotions being dealt with here were intense the action never devolved into uber-angst nor went over-the-top, the characters and their feelings remained human which fully immersed me in the story from the very first page to the last. Upon getting our first glimpse of college student Lance in his Uncle Vic's story he'd left an indelible impression with his exuberance for life, perpetual optimism, and fun and flirty nature. In this romantic tale Lance shows that he's wise beyond his years as he subtly tries to get the reserved and overly serious Chris to look past age and focus on the love growing from their friends with benefits relationship. Lance was immediately drawn to Chris but had to work to gain entrance into his life because of Chris' fears over age and lost dreams. Lance ultimately had to wage a battle of charm, playfulness, and sensuality that was immensely entertaining before Chris finally gave in with a scorching one-night stand that caught both of them off guard. Their burgeoning relationship was sweet yet sexy and despite their plan to keep things casual their connection reached surprising depths with Lance opening Chris' eyes to living life instead of hiding away. He was clearly more in touch with his feelings and willing to put his heart on the line to make their relationship work long-term which, combined with his upbeat and open aiitude, kept a perpetual smile on my face. Chris has been hurt numerous times in the past and had his dreams crushed repeatedly. It's left him weary and afraid to put his heart on the line again. With an ex-boyfriend whose existence irritates him and with his life passing him by he feels jaded, but seeing Lance awakens his heart and has him wanting to bask in the sunlight of Lance's soul. Though he can think of many reasons why they shouldn't be a couple, which are discussed throughout the story, Chris can't deny how good they are together. Being with Lance has him embracing life once again, it has him reaching for new possibilities, and finding fulfillment in making others happy by opening his heart. With the clock ticking down until Lance leaves for grad school, will Chris go back to being alone or will he take a chance on love? This story had a wonderful flow which allowed Lance and Chris' closeness to evolve believably. Though lust drew them together initially, things quickly grew more serious through heartfelt conversations and Lance's charm and big heart. Chris was a broken man just going through the motions until Lance came into his life and I loved seeing Chris evolve into a more kindhearted and self-sacrificing person. Along with a strong personal connection between them were numerous hot and heavy scenes that were at times playful but always sensual. These scenes were nicely balanced though with interactions outside the bedroom which showed the fun and flirty banter growing between them. On a whole this was a well-crafted story with immensely likable characters that kept me fully immersed in their outcomes that I was sorry to see end.
Delivered Fast, Annabeth Albert Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews. Genre: GLBT, Romance This is part of a connected series, featuring different characters in each book, but as a stand alone novel. I hadn’t read any of the others but found that wasn’t a problem, everything was made clear and it read easily. Chris, Mr Grumpy. He gave up his dreams to follow those of his ex, an older man. At the time it didn’t seem like a sacrifice, everything was fun and went well until they opened a second shop and fell apart years later. I like Chris, he’s loyal, a good boss, hard working and even though he comes across as a bit gruff and irritable he clearly has a very loyal staff who care for him. Life for him seems to just be existing from day to day, working, sleeping, eating and fun and frivolity seem lost. He’s only 35 but seems much older, kind of resigned to his life and I felt so sorry for him. He deserved love – his ex is a jerk, and Chris needs someone new, someone better. Then Lance drops in to his life. There’s an attraction there straightway but Chris thinks nothing can come of it – he’s so much younger at 22. Lance is determined though – he wants Chris and has that dogged, never give up outlook. Somehow he wears Chris down and they have one hot and sensual time together – that Lance then stretches to a second and then to a friends with benefits relationship. He wants more but Chris can’t, or rather won’t, do that. He’s scared, he doesn’t want the heartbreak that comes from a breakup he sees as inevitable, the age gap figures large with him, and knowing Lance is off to uni hundreds of miles way he’ll only agree to the summer as the FWB affair. Its odd isn’t it this hook we have about age gaps? Usually we see the concern being older woman younger man, other way round it seems to get applauded ....In a gay relationship though it varies. I can see much of Chris concerns stem from how he now regrets giving up so much for his ex, and he worries that in time Lance could feel the same. Plus of course Lance has had this dream of going to that uni for so long, and has worked so hard. Chris is making decisions for him though, not recognising that Lance is an adult too and capable of making his own mind up. Its a huge block for them, and creates a real problem. The decision needs to be made, and the way it looks it seems as if both are going to get hurt...can they find a way forward, a way to keep together? They really work so well as a couple and complement each other. Can Chris stop comparing Lance to himself at a younger age, and what went wrong? Can Lance persuade Chris that he knows his own mind, that one persons mistake doesn’t mean another will make the same error? Its a compelling read, and with real problems and concerns that faces many couples whatever their sexual orientation. There’s a good balance of sex to story here too – enough to give some heat, some spice, but not to dominate the story. That's how I enjoy books best. Stars: Four, a fun read with very realistic feeling characters and issues. ARC supplied by Netgalley.
4 Stars! I have to say that this novella is my favorite in the series so far. I just loved Chris and Lances story. I am amazed by just how much story Annabeth Albert is able to pack into these short novellas. It is just so nice to be able to sit down and read such a fulfilling story in such a short amount of time. This is the third story in the Portland Heat series but there is very little crossover and each story can be read as a stand alone. This story is told from Chris's point of view. Chris is in his mid 30s and lives in the apartment above the restaurant that he runs but still owns along with his ex. Chris just takes life one day at a time but he can't help by notice the new delivery man, Lance. Lance is in his early 20s. He isn't easily intimidated and has no problems going for what he wants. He is interested in Chris and one thing leads to another and suddenly a one night stand turns into so much more. I loved the chemistry between these two characters. Some of the scenes were more than a little hot but I also loved the times when they just spent time with each other. There was a lot of focus on the age difference between the couple but I just don't think 13 years is really that big of an age gap. My parents had a 10 year age gap which has always seemed perfectly normal to me so what do I know. I did inwardly groan when this couple had their major conflict in the story. Any time one person starts making decisions for the other person's best interest without asking what they actually want, things also seem to go wrong. I would recommend this story to fans of M/M romance. I thought it was a sweet and sexy quick read. I definitely plan to read more of Annabeth Albert's work in the future. I received a copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
This sexy contemporary romance, the third in the Portland Heat series, is the story of Chris and Lance. Chris runs a vegan coffee shop, a business he started with his ex that they still co-own though their relationship fizzled out. He's got no time for someone new. But Lance, his young, hot delivery guy has other ideas, tempting him into a friends with benefits kind of arrangement. Lance is younger than Chris, just figuring out where he wants to go to grad school and what his future will hold. When Lance makes it clear to Chris that he wants him in the picture, will Chris be able to get over his hangup about their age difference and accept a new vision for his future, one that includes Lance? I really enjoyed this story! It was a great opposites attract romance, with Chris as the older, grumpy bear type guy and Lance the young, flirty and fun one. Chris has so much responsibility on his plate, running the business and taking care of his employees that letting loose is difficult for him, though Lance makes it clear that he's up for whatever Chris will give him. Lance is very engaging as a sweet, friendly, responsible guy, clearly very mature for his age and knowing exactly what he wants, even if Chris doesn't want to believe it. The attraction between them is undeniable and leads to several hot and steamy love scenes, ones that have an underlying emotion to them that Chris is afraid to look into too deeply. Lance on the other hand is fearless, going for what he wants, and he wants Chris. The development of their romance is sweet and though it takes Chris a while to believe that Lance could really want him, the end result is a satisfying and enjoyable romance. 4.5 stars!
Flowed Smoothly, but Felt Thin. Score: 4.3 Judging a Book by it's Cover: I'm undecided on the cover. I've liked the torso shots from the previous installments to the series, so this unclothed close-up seems unnecessary to me. The synopsis was, honestly, not important to me, I was looking forward to reading Lance's story. Looking Deeper: First Person POV from Chris's perspective. Chris has been solo and celibate since breaking off a not-great relationship with his ex-, who also unfortunately is half-owner of the coffee shop he runs. Lance is a vibrant and intelligent young man, preparing to start graduate school in the fall after his current semester of college is over. Lance has his eye on Chris and although Chris is mutually attracted, he fights it because of their age difference and how it reminds him of the damaging relationship he had with Randy. In many ways, Lance came off more mature than Chris, maybe because of the support network Lance had and/or the lack of for Chris. Both characters were well-written, but I think I liked Lance's vitality over Chris's curmudgeonly ways. The secondary characters were just enough to add a little fun to the mix. Dialogue was great, the interactions were good. Most felt natural and believable. The plot was good, but it felt a little thin, like something was missing. The previous stories seemed fuller, but always, the flow of writing was smooth as melting butter on a biscuit. The conflict was resolved in a great way, not rushed or belittled. I did predict the outcome, but that did not detract from the story and the conclusion was fantastic. I hope there will be more books in this series. Although this novella can easily stand on it's own, Lance's cousin Vic is mentioned often and plays a few cameos. He's one part of book 2's couple, so I'd recommend starting the series from the beginning, because even Robby (book 1) is given a quick nod in here. ------------------------ Heat Level: 4.25 ------------------------ Score: 4.3 Stars: 4 -----------------------