Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Tour for Served Hot by Annabeth Albert (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Fans of the m/m genre will be drawn to this flirty read of opposites falling in love.  Keep reading to get a sip of Served Hot by Annabeth Albert, the first installment in the Portland Heat series, along with my impressions of it.  Learn even more about this book by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour and then fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.

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 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.”



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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.

My rating for this is a B-

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


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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