Tag Archives: Annabeth Albert

Favorite New Release Tour ~ Status Update (#gaymers #1) by Annabeth Albert *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Status Update (#gaymers #1)
by Annabeth Albert

An M/M Contemporary Romance
From Carina Press
Released December 7th 2015

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Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.

That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.

Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?

 

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Review

4 stars
4.25 stars

You know you’ve found a winner when you’re dead tired the morning after reading an all-nighter, and you’re still remembering the story and its characters the next day with a huge grin on your face. What can I say? Annabeth Albert is fast becoming a must-read author of mine and with this latest story she just proved why she’s earned a place in that list.

What I enjoyed must about this story was the way Noah and Adrian were brought together. Their paths crossed in an unexpected way and a tentative friendship was formed where both men eventually gave in to the attraction that simmered between them. But what made this different from some of the stories I’ve read lately was the fact that although the attraction was palpable, it was slow burning with tentative touches and stolen looks to add to the allure of these two coming together.

Both Noah and Adrian were great characters and I appreciated the chance Annabeth Albert afforded me to get to know them. On the surface, Noah and Adrian appeared to be opposites, but ultimately they complemented each other perfectly well. Noah with his caring nature helped Adrian recognize that his previous relationship never allowed for something real where there was no distance and opportunity to put problems aside. Likewise, Adrian’s laid-back personality and honest acceptance allowed Noah to relax and eventually recognize what he was missing by keeping himself closed off.

Although emotions did play a major role in the story, the author made sure that the story never reach angsty levels. I thought Noah’s hesitancy was perfectly brought to the page. I understood where his doubts stemmed from and I loved seeing him exploring that side of him he kept to himself. It was fantastic to see how Adrian’s understanding and caring nature put Noah at ease and eventually brought him out of the ‘closet’ Noah had lived in for so long. Their happy moments were a treat to experience and their more candid and honest moments only served to prove how deeply the connection between Noah and Adrian ran.

I loved that the romance was slow in coming that the connection shared was firmly established and developed throughout. But that’s not to say that the chemistry was lacking. Like I said before, those tentative touches kept the tension alive and present which made for some tantalizing moments. And when they finally did come together? It was everything I was expecting and much more.

Even though I enjoyed this story from beginning to end, I couldn’t help but want to see more of Adrian and Noah as a couple after everything was said and done. The last chapter was great, but I feel like I missed on seeing them go through all the intricacies of establishing and maintaining a relationship, especially when it came to Noah. The last chapter was great, but I don’t know, I just wish I could have seen more of them as a couple.

All in all, a fantastic romantic read.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

Noah knew the dog was trouble as soon as he and Ulysses entered the campground’s off-leash dog area. The little guy—some sort of Chihuahua/mini-pin mix in a yellow-and-green checked coat—stood in the center of the scrubby grass, barking his fool head off. The only human in the dog area sat at the picnic table on the far side, completely absorbed in his shiny phone, oblivious to his dog strutting around like all eight pounds of him would be enough to keep potential threats out.

Ulysses gave Noah a look, like “you really expect me to ignore that?” Noah tightened his hold on the tennis ball chucker. Ulysses never did well competing with smaller dogs for his toys. He unclipped Ulysses with a stern look.

“Be good.”

Still yapping, the little dog rushed over to inspect his new enemy. Predictably, Ulysses wandered away to do his business. He was too old for these sorts of games.

Noah gave a halfhearted wave in the direction of the owner, but the guy didn’t look up from his phone. The young guy was a typical hipster tourist—thick tortoise-framed glasses, artfully messed-up dark hair, with a thick purple streak, falling over his forehead. Slim build, but his wide shoulders stretched his too-thin jacket, making the shiny fabric ripple with his motions. He wasn’t any more prepared for November in Utah than his designer dog. Still, he was a cute guy, if one was the type to notice things like that, which Noah was not.

Noah looked away, studying the sheer cliffs that surrounded the Capitol Reef National Park. Didn’t matter how much time he spent in Southern Utah, he never got tired of the view. Phone guy was missing the light shifting into one of those perfect late fall sunsets that made the early dusk worth the loss of daylight. Pink streaks mingled with gray sky to cast a rosy glow over the scrubby grass and low fence of the dog area.

Rowwwr. Ulysses flopped at Noah’s feet, a deep beseeching whine rattling out of his barrel chest. He was eighty pounds of unhappy. He’d waited patiently all afternoon while Noah worked, and now he was missing out on his ball time thanks to the teacup gatekeeper.

“Okay, but play nice.” Noah threw the ball hard with the chucker toy, going for enough distance to outstrip the tiny dog’s ability to keep up with Ulysses. Not surprisingly, the little guy was tenacious, cutting off Ulysses’s path to the ball. Ulysses gave a warning woof, and Noah broke into a run, heading after the dogs.

“Down,” he called out. Ulysses wouldn’t attack the smaller dog, but he wasn’t above a major tantrum. And despite the smaller dog acting as instigator, people would see the huge black dog and toss out the “aggressor” label. Noah preferred to exercise him late in the day—Ulysses simply didn’t enjoy playing with other dogs, and Noah wasn’t one to force his dog into uncomfortable situations.

The little dog stood over the ball, yapping up a storm while Ulysses barked and growled, ignoring Noah’s command to sit.

Finally, the owner hefted himself off the picnic bench.

“Pixel, baby, what are you doing?” the owner called in a melodic voice that didn’t inspire Noah’s confidence in the man’s ability to control his dog. “Did the big doggie scare you?”

Hah. Typical. Noah snorted. “Can you grab the ball?” He didn’t trust those little dog breeds—too quick to snap. He’d nearly been bitten trying to retrieve a ball more than once.

“Oh sure.” The guy reached under Pixel—typical cutesy name for an annoying dog—and delicately plucked the ball free, but instead of handing it to Noah, he gave it a toss, sending both dogs running.

Oh great. Noah let out a slow breath, little puffs of vapor in the crisp evening air that did nothing to defuse his tension.

“It’ll be okay.” The way-too-handsy guy patted the sleeve of Noah’s parka. “They just need to work it out. Pixel loves to play.”

Noah took a step to the side. Who did that? Touched complete strangers? But the guy kept up his friendly grin, not unlike his dog, who kept gamely chasing Ulysses. Ulysses won the race to the ball this time and hightailed it back to Noah. Not releasing his prize, he whined softly.

“Hey, boy. You got a toy?” The guy knelt to dog level and extended a hand, but instead of sniffing, Ulysses shook his head.

“Sorry. He’s not much on new people.” Neither am I. Noah’s voice sounded rough to his own ears—too many days with only Ulysses to talk to.

“It’s okay.” The guy straightened, then extended a hand to Noah. “I’m Adrian Gottlieb. You been at Capitol Reef long?”

“Couple of weeks.” He returned Adrian’s handshake, hating it when a little buzz shot up his arm. Unlike his own gloved hand, Adrian’s hand was bare, a hint of a tattoo playing peekaboo with his cuff, his grip strong and firm. And Noah had absolutely no business noticing anything more than the guy’s relentless friendliness.

Adrian smiled expectantly as he released Noah’s hand.

“Oh, I’m Noah. And that’s Ulysses,” he added, because dog people always wanted to know all about the dog. No doubt the guy was bursting to tell Pixel’s life story.

“Add-dreeee-an,” a heavily accented voice called from the gate. A beefy guy close to Noah’s age leaned on the fence, bald head gleaming in the setting sun. “I’m lonely. When are you coming back?”

“Coming,” Adrian shouted, then gave Noah a shrug with a “what can you do?” expression on his face. He grabbed Pixel and jogged across the field.

Noah nodded like he knew anything about handling demanding friends. Adrian greeted the mammoth dude with a quick peck. Okay then. Not a friend. He should have guessed, but he was a bit slow about relationship stuff. The country was changing, even way out here, but no one would dare try even that much PDA in his tiny West Texas college town. His stomach gave a weird flip—not quite discomfort, but something else he refused to name. Time to return his attention to Ulysses. He hurled the tennis ball as hard as he could.

 

About the Author

Annabeth

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.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

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New Release: Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony #1) by Annabeth Albert *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony #1)
by Annabeth Albert

An M/M Romance
From Kensington–Lyrical Shine
Released August 4th 2015

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On Perfect Harmony, the ambitious competitors heat things up on stage and off…

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame—unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not—conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it maybe a love song…

 

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Review

4 stars

4.25 stars

Lucas Norwood is a gay college student participating with his a cappella group. He’s shy, uncoordinated and harbors some mighty lustful thoughts. He has pledge to save himself for marriage, has a fairly good relationship with his parents and is used to resisting temptation. He knows his limits and abides by his rules. Until he notices Cody.

Cody Rivers is ready to make it big. He’s tired of living out of his van and so agrees to participate in the Perfect Harmony reality show. Cody is no fool–he knows the game and he plays it well. His only focus is to win regardless of who or what stands in his way. He’s flamboyant, in your face and doesn’t have any qualms about it. He’s the very man Lucas should be weary of, but the very man who ignites all his fantasies.

Annabeth Albert is fast becoming a favorite author for me. There’s just something about the way she manages to bring two completely different individuals together and make it look effortless. I loved that Lucas was the quiet, stumbling giant with a sexy fetish. He was the perfect compliment to Cody’s out-there-in-your-face personality.

Now I admit that at first I thought getting these two together would be kind of messy. What with Lucas’ virginity pledge and Cody’s no-holds-barred sexiness I didn’t think they had a chance of coming together AND make it believable in my eyes. Well, color me a fool because Annabeth Albert sure proved me wrong. With the use of witty banter, flirty bickering and some hot-as-hell nightly encounters I was soon a believer!

And that’s not to say that there weren’t other elements brought to the page that added to my enjoyment. The cast of characters were all intriguing and added something in their own right to the story. I’m especially curious about Trevor, Lucas’ friend. He struggled with some stuff in this story and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him. (hint, hint!)

There was also the range of emotions both Cody and Lucas portrayed. From Cody’s frustration over his attraction to Lucas to Lucas’ overwhelming desire to explore things with Cody, every little emotion was there present and accounted for. The humor, the passion and the camaraderie (or lack of it!) made this story a treat to read.

And I won’t even get too deeply into Lucas and Cody’s chemistry. It was intense. My anticipation for that first kiss was driving me insane. The hot/cold vibe these two kept on before hooking up sure had me frustrated. Ohhh but it was so worth the wait! Lucas sure surprised the hell out of me. Add to that the stolen touches and hidden looks that they kept exchanging and you can be sure that my grin was firmly in place throughout.

It sure helped that the connection they shared was always at the forefront of their every exchange. Sure, they were different in many ways, but they shared a deep connection based on their love of music and their desire for something more–be it a meaningful relationship or a chance at stardom. Lucas and Cody learned to appreciate their differences and accept each other warts and all. What more can you ask of them than that.

As the first book in the series, Treble Maker works in many ways. It not only brought about Lucas and Cody’s romance but also managed to establish some key players and a nice set-up for the next installment in the series. All in all, a fantastic sexy read where a sweet yet intense romance took the lead with music serving as a background.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

The bass singer was gay. Cody wiggled his hips in an exaggerated move that always got him company on dance floors, waited a beat, and … there. Right on cue, the curly-haired singer gave him another sidelong glance.

A straight dude might grant Cody the occasional double take because, yeah, it was damn hard to ignore Cody’s style of fabulousness. Today, for example, the style gods had smiled on him—his hair was the perfect combination of deliberate spikes and casual falls, the silver specks in his eyeliner complemented his studded leather belt, and his red skinny jeans showed off his ass. So when the bass’s double take had turned into something more like a quintuple take, Cody knew what those lingering glances meant. Knew it despite the fact that the bass looked fresh off the farm, all wholesome and rosy-cheeked and wearing a tie/sweater vest combo perfect for performing in a church choir.

Crash. The bass missed a step, sending a speaker skidding across the stage. One of the camera guys groaned. On second thought, maybe the bass hadn’t been checking out Cody. Maybe he had trouble controlling his big blue eyes the same way he had trouble controlling his big-assed feet.

Whatever the dude was, he was screwing up Cody’s big break. Twitchy farmer boy and the rest of his all-boy group had screwed up multiple run-throughs of the opening number for the new season of Perfect Harmony. No one would notice Cody’s singing if the other groups kept crashing into one another and losing the chorus. He’d worked damn hard to earn this solo, and he didn’t need farmer boy messing it up with his clodhopper feet that kept tripping over thin air.

 

About the Author

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.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

 

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Tour: Delivered Fast (Portland Heat #3) by Annabeth Albert *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Delivered Fast (Portland Heat #3)
by Annabeth Albert

An M/M Romance
From Kensington Books
Released May 26th 2015

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Portland, Oregon, aka Hotlandia, where the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are ready to serve everything piping hot, fresh, and ready to go—like the hard-working, hard-bodied men behind the counters—with no reservations…

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…

 

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Review

4 stars

Seriously, Annabeth Albert is fast becoming a favorite author of mine. I love how she mixes the elements in her stories. The sweet and the emotional, the raunchy and the candid. It’s a nice balance that keeps me interested and invested in the characters’ story.

In this book we get Chris and Lance’s story. Chris is a business owner and Lance is the handsome delivery guy who manages to draw Chris’ world upside down. Chris is older than Lance, which leads Chris to have mixed feelings about their mutual attraction. After being dumped by his long time partner, Chris doesn’t want anything to do with a relationship. His main focus since the breakup has been his business and that’s the way he wants to keep it. However, Lance is matured beyond his years, charming and a comforting presence for Chris making it harder for him to keep Lance at arms length.

I liked fact that Chris was older but less sure of himself while Lance was younger and determined to go after what he wanted. The contrast in their personalities kept me engaged throughout. At one time or another I found myself wanting to smack them upside the head, shake some sense into them or simply just hug and comfort them. I have found that the more a reaction a story gets out of me, the more I end up enjoying it. And that was the case with Delivered Fast. I loved the characters, enjoyed how their connection grew and how explosive their chemistry could become.

All in all, a fantastic addition to the series and a sweet yet hot little read.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

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.

 

About the Author

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.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

 

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Series Spotlight: Portland Heat by Annabeth Albert *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Portland Heat Series
by Annabeth Albert

An M/M Romance Series
From Kensington Books

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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…

 

servedhotServed Hot (Portland Heat #1)

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?

BakedFreshBaked Fresh (Portland Heat #2)

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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Review

4 stars

These are the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m glad I took a chance with them.

In Served Hot we get Robbie and David’s story. Both men have been burned in romance before one way or the other and having them take a chance at love was a treat.

Robbie is a barista who own his own coffee street car. He also has a major crush on David, one of his regular customers. The problem is that not only is Robbie shy he also doesn’t know if David is even gay. Lucky him that he runs into David at the local Pride Festival–that at least answers that question. Still Robbie is apprenhensive in making a move. But with every chance encounter his attraction for David grows until he decides to take a chance.

However, David is just recently out and not fully comfortable. His past relationship affected him deeply plus it left him with no sense whatsoever on how true relationships are supposed to work. Robbie is patient and supportive, but how long can he stand to be kept in the dark?

I enjoyed this story very much. It was sweet and light on the angst but with enough range in emotions to truly get a sense of how deeply affected Robbie and David were with what they were feeling. Sadly, I only got to experience Robbie POV. I think having dual POVs would have made my enjoyment of this story ever greater.

As it was I enjoyed it thoroughly. The build up was slow, the interactions funny, flirty and honest and the heat factor although tamed did its duty in showcasing their chemistry.

Now Baked Fresh is another story altogether in my opinion. In this stand alone book in the series we get Robin and Vic’s story.

In the last years Vic has made New Year’s resolutions to improve his life. He has stopped smoking, went to culinary school and dropped a whole lot of weight. This year he decided that he wants to be in a relationship. He’s tired of meaningless hook ups and wants to love and be loved. This resolution is one he wants to see through to the end, but his low self esteem makes him rethink it at every turn–until Robin, his ultimate crush, is single again! Vic is still doubtful of a happily ever after with Robin, but he’s determined to enjoy any shared time with him while he can.

Robin is a recovering alcoholic and has a sketchy past. He hasn’t always made the right decisions in the love department and he has the emotional scars to prove it. After his last break-up he vowed not to date again, but it seems he can’t help himself when it comes to Vic. And Vic can’t help but follow along. But the question remains…for how long?

I liked this story even better than the first one. Vic and Robin’s characters were a bit more complex plus their development as both individuals and as a couple was showcased throughout the story. Once again, I would have liked it better to have dual POVs. However, I came to connect with Robin easily and even without his POV I came to understand his situation and where he was coming from.

Vic and Robin had personal issues to get through before even considering a relationship and I appreciated the chance to experience their interactions. I enjoyed getting to know them and watching them accept themselves and taking a chance in love. I especially loved seeing how their connection grew and strengthened as the story progressed. And I have to say that their chemistry helped to further my enjoyment. While Served Hot was sweet and tame, Baked Fresh was a sweet indulgence with warm candid moments and toasty hot ones too! Ahh to be a fly on that wall…

All in all, an interesting series I can’t wait to get more of!

*I received copies of these titles in exchange of my honest opinion.
 

Baked Fresh 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.

 

About the Author

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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