Baked Fresh: Portland Heat #2 by Annabeth Albert with Excerpt and Giveaway

Welcome to my review for book 2 in the Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert. Please read on for the excerpt, don’ forget to check out the other tour stops to see what other readers thought about the book and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Baked Fresh

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.

Baked Fresh: Portland Heat #2 by Annabeth Albert with Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: Baked Fresh
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat #2
Also in this series: Served Hot, Delivered Fast, Danced Close
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: Kensington
ISBN: 1601833938
Published on: 159
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 13 April, 2015
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour
See this Title on Goodreads

From its famous coffee to the mouthwatering fare at its cafés, restaurants, and bakeries, Portland, Oregon, has a lot to whet the appetite, including the hard-working men who serve it all up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

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…

See the Portland Heat Series on GoodReads

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Tasty Excerpt

 

“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.

*****

Once Vic resolves to be Robin’s rebound guy, can he convince Robin that they’re meant to be? Find out in BAKED FRESH!

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About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

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