Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Tour for Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert (Review & GIVEAWAY)

The Portland Heat series continues in Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert, a fun and flirty m/m romance with surprising emotional depth too.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of this book, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about it by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  Make sure to fill out the form for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!

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…


“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.





The Portland Heat series continues with this romantic tale of two men from very different worlds who connect through their mutually painful pasts.  Both have been hurt by past relationships, and while one wants to run from commitment the other craves it.  This leads to a sweet yet steamy and deeply intense road to HEA full of speed bumps that had me blushing one moment and rooting for Robin and Vic's happiness the next.

Vic's always had issues with his weight but found his niche in the dating world despite it.  These relationships though were quick and left him cold.  With his health in jeopardy he completely changed his way of life through surgery, exercise, and creating baked goods instead of eating them.  He also decides he's had enough of one-night stands, especially after a negative reaction to his body post-surgery.  The reaction fed into his already low self-esteem and has him doubting his attraction and ability to be with the man who's been his dream man for the last year...Robin.  To be with Robin though he'll do whatever it takes....even be just his friend or just his friend with benefits.  It all leads to a rocky relationship that's both sweet and sexy with Vic the clear caretaker, supporting Robin through the emotional upheavals being thrown at him.  I adored Vic and could relate to his body image issues.  His inner dialogue regarding his looks was at times funny but heartfelt and heartbreaking too which endeared him to me even more.

Robin's young but lived a life too full of poor choices and bad relationships that have left him cold and unwilling to keep putting his heart on the line.  He's kicked drugs but still struggles with the pain of watching others fall as low as he did.  His past has left him with low self-esteem and an inability to trust and enjoy being with someone else.  He's decided that he's done with relationships but Vic is a sugary sweet temptation whose caring side confuses him as well as calls to him.  Their relationship may start out casual but it's clear that it's destined to become more.  Theirs is a connection that is deep but unspoken in many ways.  Robin's past may be ugly but it's left him happy and full of life.  He sees the possibilities in many things.  He has a big heart and is just as caring as Vic which makes their time together so joyful to see.  As Robin's past creeps ever closer though, will he run from Vic or straight into his open arms?

Loosely connected to the previous installment in this series, this book can definitely be read on its own.  The main characters are sweet and immensely likable with issues easy to relate to.  Their relationship is both sweet yet full of super steamy encounters bordering on light bdsm.  Though their relationship progresses nicely and maturely there is a silly misunderstanding late in the story that felt unnecessary and marred the beauty of their burgeoning relationship.  Overall this was an immensely enjoyable story with likable main characters, colorful and memorable secondary ones, and a romance that brought a smile to my face as well as making me blush.  Fans of the m/m genre will find this a fun read and Ms. Albert a talent to keep an eye on.

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.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.


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