In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…
Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?
First in the new Portland Heat series!
About the Author
Annabeth can be found online at annabethalbert.com, @annabethalbert on Twitter, and Facebook.com/annabethalbert.
Read an Excerpt
By Annabeth Albert
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Annabeth Albert
All rights reserved.
My nooner was late. Well, technically, David was my 11:50. Without fail, ten minutes before twelve every work day, David P. Gregory bought a vanilla latte from my coffee cart in the Old Emerson building in Portland. I only knew his name because he used his debit card to pay, and I knew the time because of the old-fashioned, massive brass clock directly across the atrium from my cart.
I knew David banked at a local credit union, knew that he worked somewhere that required a tie, knew that he had a smile that made his mouth crinkle up at the edges when I handed him his coffee, and knew that he was an excellent tipper.
What I didn't know was whether or not he was straight. We'd had this weird dance for months now—he'd arrive for his coffee, stilted and uncomfortable, relax into a bit of small talk while I made his drink, and then he'd take his coffee to one of the metal tables out in the atrium to have with the lunch he packed in a blue bag. I liked watching him eat because he gave it his entire focus—no smart phone or gadget, no newspaper or book, no folder of work. A few times I'd caught him looking back in my direction. But his gaze never lingered and either my flirting while I served him was more subtle than I'd thought or he was simply immune.
Today David was late. Unexpected disappointment uncurled in my stomach, souring my caffeine buzz. It was a good day—a steady stream of customers at my cart and bustling business for the pizza place and the vegan sandwich bar on the other side of the atrium. The hundred-year-old office building had been renovated to include a few small eateries in the newly added skylit atrium. Plenty for me to look at, but my eyes kept returning to the double brass doors that opened onto Ninth.
David pushed through the heavy doors at 12:45 just as I was finishing up a caramel soy latte for one of the Goth girls who worked at the jewelry place across the street. I hid my smile behind my espresso machine. Eager for it to be his turn, I tapped my toes against the linoleum.
"The usual?" I figured it would freak him out if I mentioned I'd noticed his lateness.
"Hmmm." He studied my specials sign. I'd glued a chalkboard panel inside a silver frame from a secondhand place on Hawthorne and put the whole thing on a silver-painted easel. Classy on the cheap.
Today I had a half-price tuxedo mocha—white chocolate with dark chocolate swirls. David had never paid any attention to the sign before, but today he gave it a long stare, consideration tugging his mouth back and forth. God, I loved his mouth—full pink lips, a hint of stubble on his upper lip like he'd missed a spot shaving.
After a few seconds, he shrugged, broad shoulders rippling the fine cotton of his dress shirt. "Yeah. The usual."
"Sure thing." I grabbed the cup for his small vanilla latte.
"Wait." He held up a hand as I started to ring him up. "Iced. It's sweltering out." He'd rolled up the sleeves of his crisp white shirt, revealing muscular forearms and a heavy silver, antique-looking watch.
"Meaning it's eighty-five degrees in Portland and everyone is freaking out. You know ... it's good to try something different once in a while."
"I'll keep that in mind." His mouth quirked. While his brown eyes were often unreadable, his expressive mouth provided more of a window into his emotions. "But my day's had enough excitement. I'm not sure I can handle much new right now."
Darn. I wouldn't mind providing something new for him. "Rough morning?"
"Budget crisis." A sigh rolled through him, pushing his shoulders down and making his lower lip stick out. My arms tensed with the need to give him a hug. Of course, I wanted to do a lot more than hug. I wanted to nibble on his lip, lick my way into his mouth ...
"—so everything we did three months ago has to be undone."
Hell. He'd kept talking and I'd missed part of it while I was fantasizing.
"Sucks." In more than one way. I'd known he was a corporate type, but knowing he was a number-crunching guy in charge of big dollars pushed him further out of my league.
"Yeah. Wasn't even sure I'd get my coffee fix today."
I looked up from making his drink, hoping to see a telltale bloom of pink on his cheeks. Eagerness. Anything that would give me a teensy-tiny bit of hope. But his paler-than-usual face only showed exhaustion, revealing little lines around his mouth and eyes that I hadn't noticed before.
"At least you get the weekend to recover, right?"
"Hah." His forced exhalation ruffled the brown hair that tumbled across his forehead. "If I'm lucky."
Over the months, I'd watched his haircut go through several cycles—close-cropped enough to hide his natural curl, waves tamed with lots of product, and overgrown fluff that defied any attempts to restrain it. My favorite look was definitely the latter—my fingers ached with the need to grab hold and never let go—but I knew his hair would be shorter within the next few days. Fluffy and cuddly never lasted long with him.
"That's too bad. It's too pretty out to stay cooped up all weekend." Great. We were back to talking about the weather, but I was happy to grasp at anything to keep the conversation going. Sunlight flooded the atrium, lighting up the large planters in the center of the room and making the brass of the clock gleam.
"I know. I'll try to get out at some point." There it was: his rare half smile that on someone else might have been flirtatious. On him, it looked more like he'd surprised himself by letting a joke creep past his usual seriousness. "How about you? Big plans for the weekend?"
You. An invitation crept to the front of my tongue, only to retreat before I opened my mouth. I sucked at this. For all that I loved my customers and loved what I did, I wasn't good at taking banter beyond the superficial. I hadn't dated anyone for two years and my last boyfriend, Brian, had been the one to pursue me, slipping me his number with a tip and following it up with an invitation that felt more like a command.
"You could say that." I smiled nervously, not sure how much to reveal. Oh, what the hell. "It's Pride weekend."
"Didn't realize that was going on." Darn it, judging by how wide his eyes popped, he'd genuinely had no clue. Well, at least my question about him had an answer, even if it wasn't the one I wanted.
"Not like I'm going to have as much fun this year. Working one of the coffee stalls for my old boss a big chunk of the festival." I shrugged, like Pride was just another workday, but the motion came out as wooden as the conversation.
"Eh. Have fun." David's voice was weak. He coughed in that awkward rumble guys make when someone's over-shared.
"Here you go." I handed him his coffee, making sure my smile didn't seem forced.
Cursing myself with every salty putdown I'd learned from my Navy dad, I watched David walk away. It wasn't the first time I'd come out to a customer, but I didn't make a habit of it. Portland was one of the most accommodating cities I'd ever lived in, but my cart was right in the heart of the business district, and with all the suits running around being all professional, it seemed best to keep things ... professional.
David went right to his usual table and pulled out a sandwich and a Baggie of chips. Most of the suit-and-tie lunch crowd got coffees on their way over to one of the atrium's overpriced eateries. There was something endearing about a guy who got a four-dollar coffee to go with his daily PB&J on whole wheat and potato chips. Made my insides go all fuzzy. His Spartan lunch was the main reason I'd been optimistic he'd been coming around for more than coffee. Seeing him sitting there in his white shirts and boring ties, looking deep in thought over a lunch most people left behind in grade school—well, it made me want to be the thing on his mind. But of course it was highly unlikely it was me causing the furrow in his brow and the faraway look in his eyes. So what the heck was he thinking about? Numbers, probably. Budgets and columns and spreadsheets.
I got lost in deciding whether David was an accountant or a manager type and inventing a whole fantasy life for him. For long stretches of my day I had no customers and nothing to do but wait and people watch. Usually I kept half my brain on the cart, but this afternoon it took the distinctive snick of fingers snapping to break my daydream.
Sheila smiled broadly at me. She was another regular, a businesswoman with short eggplant-colored hair and a penchant for purple business suits and skinny mochas. "Big weekend, huh?"
"Yeah." My disappointment over David faded a little in the face of her excitement. Shelia occasionally brought her graphic designer girlfriend around. Said girlfriend had figured me out in under a minute. It was probably my glasses. They were a bit of a splurge, but hipster glasses seemed to yield higher tips, so they stayed.
"You and ..." I struggled to remember the girlfriend's name. "You going to any of the events?"
"Laura. Laura and I will be around to watch the parade, but we're getting too old for the rest of it." She winked at me, making me feel like a high schooler getting a free pass to stay out late. I wasn't that much younger than her—twenty-seven to her late thirties. And the lease I'd signed for the coffee cart space a year ago made me feel plenty adult.
"Hey! Someone left their wallet." Shelia held up a brown wallet.
David. "Heck." I jerked my hand, dribbling a bit of mocha on the side of the cup. I shot a glance toward his regular table. It was empty. Damn. I'd have to move fast to catch up with him. It was Friday, and I didn't want him to go the whole weekend without his wallet.
As soon as I handed Shelia her coffee, I opened the wallet to verify it was David's. My fingers itched to thumb through the contents, but I pinched the wallet shut as soon as I saw his debit card.
I stuck my BACK IN FIVE MINUTES sign on the counter and speedily navigated through the seating area. If I was lucky I could catch him before—I caught sight of him at the doors leading out onto Ninth.
"Hey! Wait up!" I sped after him, red apron flapping in front of me like I was trying to run down a bull. Actually, a bull wasn't a bad metaphor for him, what with his broad shoulders and wide chest and deep scowl.
"Yeah?" He said the word as if I might be about to toss a coffee on him. Or, worse, ask him out. Great. As I'd suspected, I'd totally mucked things up with my word vomit about Pride earlier.
"You left your wallet." I sounded breathless and way too unsure.
"Thanks for spotting it." His expression softened a little, mainly around his eyes, but it was enough to make him look more approachable. Our fingers brushed as he took the wallet from me. A deep sizzle ran from my hand all the way up to my mouth, forcing me to grin.
"I appreciate it—it's got my security card for work and my MAX Pass. I'd have had to hightail it back to try to catch you before you close." His smile made his soft brown eyes dance. And made my pulse race, but I'd keep that fact to myself.
"No problem. I'm usually around, even after five. Gotta clean up." The business traffic dictated our hours. I hadn't been able to justify evenings or weekends. The odd tourist or Saturday shopper wasn't enough to keep us afloat. We weren't in a residential area, and we were a fair hike from most of the touristy stuff.
"Good to know. Not the first time I've left something important behind." He looked sheepish, and my chest expanded. I liked knowing that little hint of a weakness about him; it made him more real, less of a fantasy dude.
A little idea niggled at my brain—like an evil elf had tapped me on the shoulder. "You know, if you give me your card, I could call you if you leave your wallet behind again."
There. His cheeks went dusky pink. I finally got a blush out of him, but hell if I could decipher what it meant. I could predict people's taste in coffee, down to preferred syrup flavor, but I still sucked at decoding anything as complex as human emotions.
"Ah. Um." He did the nervous cough thing again.
"Never mind." I wiped my hands on my apron. "I'd better get back."
"Wait." He opened the wallet, plucked out a white card with a blue logo, and offered it to me. His broad fingers brushed mine again as he handed it over. Another barely there touch, but I felt the charge all the way down my spine, like I'd chugged a triple shot.
My breath tripped with wishing he'd add a "call me anytime." Brian would have. But David just stood there silently. Straighter than the Fremont Bridge and denser than a concrete pylon.
"I'm Robby, by the way," I offered, mainly as a way to fill up the awkward silence.
"Thanks ... Robby." David said the name like it didn't quite fit. And I guess it didn't—people expect to hear an Asian name like Kim or Jae, not Robert Edwards Junior. I was Robby, Dad was Bob, and we hadn't spoken in weeks. Dad was actually cooler with the whole gay thing than my Korean mom, but it was an uneasy acceptance, punctuated by uncomfortable phone calls and infrequent visits.
The pink had returned to David's cheeks and I almost said something else, but then he pushed through the doors and was gone.
As I walked back to my cart, I glanced down at his card.
David Gregory, Finance Director Library Trust
Huh. Not so very corporate after all. And he'd been walking six blocks—past a Starbucks, a Tully's, and two other buildings with coffee carts—to my cart. Those two small facts made my stomach all quivery again.CHAPTER 2
Waterfront Park was ablaze with rainbows: banners, sidewalks, T-shirts, tattoos, wigs, face paint. I felt positively monochromatic as I brushed my hands across my black apron and peered around the balloons—rainbow-colored, of course—bobbing cheerfully from Chris's People's Coffee trailer. My old boss, Chris, had scored a primo spot in the park's food vending area for Pride weekend. Since he'd helped me get my current cart, I didn't really feel I could turn him down with "Gee, I'd rather watch the parade and find a willing stranger to make out with."
Not that making out was likely to happen. I could count on one hand with fingers left over the number of times I'd gotten laid in the last year. Purchasing my cart, recovering from Brian, and my general awkwardness with the dating and hookup scene kept my bed cold and my wrist sore.
The line for coffee was at least six deep. I got back to work, not sure if I should feel grateful I didn't have time to linger on my painfully single state. Even with five baristas, the line stayed long for the entire Saturday shift. By the six o'clock close of the festival, I was too beat even to enjoy the people watching. The night offered tons of parties and celebrations.
But my feet ached and I could only manage going through the motions at Slaughters before giving into exhaustion and collapsing into my bed, in a quiet house.
My roommates rolled in around dawn, reminding me that I still had to get through one more day of Pride. So much for getting laid. My new goal was simply to endure. Something about being an employee again—albeit it a temporary one—made even my smallest bones ache. I'd stumbled into the coffee-cart business the same way I did everything else in my life, but it was mine. I'd come to Portland for college, stayed for Brian, and had a tiny inheritance land in my lap just in time to get in on the coffee-cart opportunity.
When I arrived for the Sunday shift, I was grateful to find the crowd was lighter and more hungover, which meant fewer fancy drinks and a lot more Americanos and triple shots. Lounging against the table with the blenders, I was about to let one of the younger baristas take the next customer when I caught sight of a familiar dark head.
The hair on the back of my neck perked up. David's appearance was far more energizing than the iced soy latte with two extra shots I'd been sipping. "I've got this one," I murmured to the blue-haired barista.
"Whatever," she muttered with a classic teenage eye roll.
I sidled up to the counter. "Didn't expect to see you here. What can I do you for?" Even though I'd already established that flirty didn't work with David, I went for it anyway. After all, he was here, right?
He studied the limited menu, scratching his smooth chin. He had the sort of complexion that could easily go scruffy, but even casual he still exuded a nerdy-prep look. His green polo shirt and khaki pants with a canvas belt and loafers made me think of fancy boat parties. And of things people could get up to on boats. But then, something about his too-serious eyes had always made me think of sex.
"Vanilla latte. Iced. Another hot one today." He made a vague gesture at the sunny skies.
"Gotta love June in Portland. I want to bottle up the sun and save it for January."
"June makes monsoon season totally worth it." He drummed his fingers against the metal shelf of the order window.
The weather. We were back to talking about the freaking weather. I wanted to let out a full-on diva scream.
Excerpted from Served Hot 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
I started this series with Delivered Fast, in a rare reading of a series out of order. I took a chance and though not my favorite of Annabeth Albert’s, this was still an enjoyable read. I really liked the slow burn of Robby and David’s relationship because it felt more real considering David’s history. David was reserved and shy but he was also really sweet. I also have a soft spot for quiet, nerdy types so he was right up my alley. Robby was a great narrator and I loved watching him grow throughout the story and learn to go after what he wants. In the beginning, Robby struggles a lot with his confidence, and speaking up about what he needs, but we see him grow and change to realize that he can’t be happy if he doesn’t express himself. This was one case where I didn’t mind only have Robby’s POV. I am generally not a fan of widower books, and though David and his ex weren’t married, they were together for 12 years before his ex died. This is mainly because grief is a very real thing and I totally understand someone struggling to move on from it but I don’t necessarily want to read about it in my leisure time. It’s obvious in this story that David is very conflicted over a lot of things and is still struggling with his grief, guilt, and then anger when he begins to experience an out relationship and he see’s what he was missing. Only have Robby’s POV let me enjoy this story a bit more because David’s pain is muted, if you will. Some reviewers complained about how David and Robby treated David’s ex in terms of blame but I never noticed anything unusual. Yes, David is angry over how the ex kept their relationship secret and yes Robby is frustrated over “fighting a ghost” in terms of David’s wants. But these all felt very natural reactions for people in this situation. This book covers almost an entire year of their relationship but it does jump ahead a lot. For instance, after agreeing to a first date, the story jumps 6 weeks and they’ve been dating ever since. Most of the time these jumps were ok with me but there were a few where I wished we could have had the full scene. David meets Robby’s parents at Christmas time and we’re told about this but not shown and then when Robby goes to meet David’s parents we see them arriving and saying hello to David’s mom and then it ends. Meeting the parents is a big deal in a relationship and though all romances don’t include this step, I feel that if it’s going to be in the story it needs to be fully shown. Especially because both Robby and David had issues with their parents about being gay.
This tale has two MC’s David a daily coffee drinker and everyday for lunch comes by Robby’s coffee cart and orders the same thing and eats lunch. Robby, owner of said cart has been secretly crushing on David and finally gets the opportunity to ask him out and David declines. That following weekend David finds Robby at the festival, one thing leads to another and they kiss, David freaks and Robby is sure he’s another closet case just like he’s ex. Or is there more to David’s story? This was such a great tale about patients, understanding and growth, to a point. I liked how Robby had developed enough of a crush on David so when they started dating and he started getting the whole story he was already invested. And David finally started coming out of his shell, so when he is forced into an uncomfortable situations he can deal. The only thing I didn’t like is the fact we focused all on David, granted he had the bigger issue, but Robby and he’s past relationship clearly hurt him and he is bringing that into this one, but that was just kind of skimmed over. Would have been a more rounded story, I think, if we got everyone sorted out, and not laid blame at the feet of one character. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Crystal Many reviews
I really enjoyed this touching and sweet (with a lot of sexy) romance between David and Robby. On the surface it's two guys, one who is shy and one bold enough to make the first move and invite his coffee crush to explore things together. But as in most gay romance stories, there is the "are you out" conversation, the difficulties with family and friends, and in this case a grief component due to the loss of David's longtime secret boyfriend. There is a definite sexual attraction between them and I liked the tentative and angsty first steps in their relationship which felt just as a real as those found in a male/female romance. Once things get moving along the sex is well written and steamy, adding some spice to their relationship. Overall it was a really lovely story and definitely worth the read. 4 stars.
FourStars This was a very sweet story about two guys, both shy in their own way. It was a fast read and heartbreaking in parts. The author covered a lot of issues throughout the book that they had to deal with and did it very well. They both had past relationships and were trying to move past them but struggled with issues. Loved that it centered around Robbie's coffee cart. You find yourself hoping they can work through their frustrations of getting to know each other. I liked that their relationship built real slow as their confidence built up. A very nice read that stresses there's always hope. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. Sherry FourStars This is a story about Hope. Hope that “looks like ivory sheets and stacks of paint cans and two pairs of shoes next to the bed.” Sigh. Yes please. Robby owns a coffee cart in central Portland and David, a finance director, is his regular customer, ordering a short vanilla latte at 11:50 each weekday morning. And each time they meet, the men talk. And Robby flirts just a little. And finally, ever so slowly, in a painfully awkward dance, Robby and David become entangled romantically. As David takes his first tentative baby steps into a relationship, the attraction and frisson between the two men is delectable. But Robby isn’t the only new thing in David’s life. Transitioning from a small town closet to the life of a West Coast urban liberal is a formidible challenge. Portland is the third character in this story. The author captures the West Coast lifestyle and mindset perfectly with a wonderful mix of exuberant pride and self-deprecating humour. Anyone who has ever lived in a West Coast city will be nostalgic and anyone who hasn’t will wish they had. Annabeth Albert writes beautifully, capturing the thrilling, confusing, nuance-heavy start to this relationship with exquisite detail. Both men are attractive and enchanting and this is a tender story. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. Sarah ThreeandHalfStars Sometimes the simplest gesture can change the course of someone's life. I loved that they were so aware of each other, but both shy in their own way. This was kind of a jumbled story for me. I understand wanting to protect someone from prejudice and meanness, but it seemed that David was hiding himself behind his family issues rather than let Robby help him. It was very fun for me to read about a city that I live in though. Hearing about certain areas, the author was quite realistic. Ultimately, this was a cute story, but one where I felt the characters and story could have been a little more developed. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. AvidReader
Enjoyable read about two men trying to figure out how to be in a good relationship, after both of them have been in bad ones. I would have liked to have had David's POV as well, since the only thoughts and feelings revealed are Robby's. This made me sympathize more with Robby, even though David was also going through some rough times. Overall a sweet read with some steamy scenes. 3.5 stars ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The first in a new M/M Romance series, Annabeth Albert brings us the story of Robby and David. Robby owns a coffee cart, and has a steady stream of regular customers. But, when one of his regular customers that works around the corner from his usual spot shows up at the Pride Festival to grab a cup, Robby takes a chance to be more open about his attraction. David is newly single, mourning the loss of his last relationship and not really sure he’s ready to start a new one. He finds Robby cute, but the questions about relationships in a town so ripe with possibilities and temptations have him conflicted. And while the two are undoubtedly attracted, and their connection is sweet, they interact well and have a nice rapport, the steps from dating / flirtation to relationship is moving at a snail’s pace. Through molasses. David’s reasons are easy to understand and his hesitations feel natural and honest. But, if they would only TALK to one another about their fears, they could have found their happy far sooner. But it is hard not to like them, even as you want to shake them both and push them forward. A lovely start to a new series, I’m curious to see where Albert takes the stories and hope to see more of David and Robby as they build on their relationship. 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.
Fans of the m/m genre will find this a pleasant romp that, while nothing groundbreaking, will bring a smile to their face. Robby is the barista with a heart of gold who's recently been dumped by his closeted boyfriend. Not wanting to be another man's dirty little secret he tries to ignore the connection he feels for the shy and quiet David who goes out of his way to stop for coffee every day. David's sweet smile though, and the sense of loss in his eyes, has Robby taking a chance on a relationship that progresses ever so slowly as they both work past the pain from the death of David's lover. It's a rocky journey that stays in the platonic zone a bit too long to leave me frustrated. David's inability to express his true feelings, to get much background from him at all, also leads to a lot of downtime that furthered my frustration. Ultimately the flow of this story suffered for these issues and took it from the promise of a great read to the actuality of a good one. What sparkled though was the outgoing and colorful Robby who wore his heart on his sleeve. Though his ex left him bruised he was willing to take a chance on love again and the banter between him and David crackled because of his humor and energy. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into his heart and all his inner thoughts which endeared him to me. Though there was lots of sexual tension the sexual interludes were slow to start. They were ultimately satisfying, but a bit tamer than what I normally read. All in all it was a nice start, a sweet start between two likable characters, for a series that I look forward to revisiting as the author showed promise.
4 Hearts reviewed by Cat for MM Good Book Reviews A good cup of coffee isn’t the only reason David comes all the way to the food court when he could get one closer to work. Deep inside he wants to get to know the sexy coffee vendor, but a tragic past holds him back. Robby has taken the leap to buy his own coffee business. He makes a living but not much more, but he is doing what he likes. His prompt noon customer that shows up almost every week day like clockwork is another reason he loves his job. He too has a past that could keep him from pursuing the sexy businessman. I really liked this story. The characters are interesting and the storyline is angsty yet sweet. I will admit I nearly cried a few times over David’s story then I was ready to shake the crap out of him and say get over it too. I loved Robby and his patience with David. If you like good coffee, businessmen, interracial relationships, sweet stories, full of angst, and some sensual hot man-sex this is for you!
4 Stars! I thought that this story was wonderful. I found it to be just the right combination of sweet and sexy to keep me completely invested in the story. It is a short piece that can easily be read in a single sitting but it packs quite a story into those few pages. I love it when I feel like a have been told a complete and fulfilling story in just a short time. This story is about Robby and David. It is told completely from Robby's point of view. I liked Robby right away. I loved how we know what is going on in his head as he works up the courage to flirt with David. When David shows up at the Pride event, I wanted to give Robby a big high 5. One thing that I really liked about this story is that the big problem wasn't a simple misunderstanding. Both David and Robby have things from their past that are impacting their lives today. David has had to work extremely hard to move forward and the obstacles in their relationship stem from major issues. Watching the pair communicate and learn to be a couple was absolutely wonderful. I would highly recommend this story to fans of M/M romance. This is the first story by Annabeth Albert that I have had a chance to read. I hope to read other works by this author in the future including future title in this new series. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Kensington Books via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
1st in Series. Sweet & Sexy M/M Novella SERVED HOT (Portland Heat, # 1) by Annabeth Albert March 3, 2015 Publisher: Kensington 99 pages, approximately Romance: Contemporary, Gay, GLBT, M/M, Novella, Series ** Provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review. ** -- SYNOPSIS -- In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations… Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but "the usual"—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned? -- MY THOUGHTS -- Novella length, about 100 pages. The synopsis provided really does capture the essence of the book quite nicely. Well-written, very likable character each individually charming and with their own flaws. There are very few secondary characters & even then, they only minute supporting roles. The dialogue and interaction is believable in it's initial awkwardness and progression as the relationship progresses. My heart breaks a little for these two guys here and there, throughout the book, because of the doubts and insecurities brought on my poor past experiences. There's enough emotion conveyed to connect you to the story and it's characters and the sexy scenes were sweet and hot. Plot is a hard element to score on novellas, they often lack the depth and dimension of a full-length novel. This one makes a valid attempt, but lacks the fullness I'd prefer to see. That said, it is still a nice story that flows very well, it just fell a little dynamically flat is all. There are conflicts throughout that are resolved in mostly-mature and timely manners. Predictability was pleasantly low. The conclusion is solid and nicely wrapped up. Overall, I'd say this was a quick, but enjoyable read. ------------------------ Heat Level: 4.5 ------------------------ Score: 4.2 Stars: 4