Monday, June 1, 2015

LGBT Monday: Baked Fresh


Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #2
Released: April 14th 2015
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 159 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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…

A few months ago, I read Served Hot by Annabeth Albert and truly enjoyed the quiet, romantic e-novella and its two protagonists. It was the first in her Portland Heat series, so when Baked Fresh came along, I expected the same easiness and lightness I enjoyed in the first installment. But compared to its predecessor, Baked Fresh is a much heavier read – a more memorable one, perhaps, but one that demands a significant emotional investment.


Fortunately for us, Albert gave us two truly realistic, remarkable characters to follow. Vic just lost his young cousin to heart attack and he’s trying to reevaluate his priorities in life. He already lost considerable weight, but he’s still afraid to put himself out there and finally find someone to date. He has many insecurities and he doesn’t see himself very clearly, but if there’s one thing he wants for himself, it’s Robin, the guy from the LGBT teen shelter.

Robin just broke up with his boyfriend Paul and the last thing he needs is another relationship. He works at the shelter as a penance of sorts – not too long ago, the shelter saved him and gave him a new life. He sees Vic as a gentle giant, someone who makes him feel safe and who shows him kindness and patience.

I admired Albert’s characterization, especially for a novella. Both Vic and Robin were such clear characters, so detailed and human. Robin especially had some issues that were very difficult to overcome. I admire how they were done. They didn’t seem like something copied from a bullet point about abuse victims. They truly rang true and my heart felt every second of his pain.

As the more stable of the two, Vic had fewer problems, but his insecurities sometimes got the best of him. After his cousin’s death, he chose to have the gastric bypass surgery, but all the exercise and healthy eating in the world couldn’t help him with his self-image. Robin was very good for him from the start because he saw him as a hero, a mix between the Rock, Vin Diesel and Superman.

The third novella in this series is already out and I bought my copy yesterday. I wish these could be full-length novels, but even for a series of novellas, Albert continues to give us complete, complex stories. I can’t wait to read more.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. 

15 comments:

  1. It's nice to see all the stories in the seires are good well even if it's the second and I hope the third will be the same for you.

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  2. I like that (even if you wish for full length) the novellas still work as they are

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  3. Oh I like the sound of this one Maja! I typically struggle with novellas because, like you said, I always want more, but this whole series sounds thoroughly enjoyable. M/M romance for the win!

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  4. Ah, love the sound of the remarkable and realistic characters

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  5. I love novellas that really stand out and shine! Great review Maja!

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  6. An author that excels at characterization even in a novella is an author I certainly need to check out! I'm glad this was a lovely read for you, Maja. I want to give it a shot.
    Wonderful review!

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  7. I know what you mean about wishing for full-length I am reading a UF series that is all novellas, but as you said it was good. I have read a couple of LGBT YA books and liked them, and just read my first adult, a novella in fact and was surprised at how much I loved it.

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  8. I'm not big on novellas, but I have to admit that I'm intrigued by this author. It takes skill to create the characters you're describing and the writer in me wants to check it out :) Hopefully, I'll find some time it soon!

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  9. You know me I am not the biggest fan of novellas because I always feel cheated, but if these are complete and complex stories, I can't complain, right?

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  10. I know this one would have me worried for quite a while. Wanting to yell at them both to just be open with one another and get to the relationship. :) They have to really fall for each other. I need my HEA. :D

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  11. Novellas that still manage to give us a complete story are the best! Glad to hear you're really enjoying these Maja!

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  12. Oh this takes place locally to me! I love that. :) It sounds like a sweet romance as well. Wonderful review!

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  13. Aw. I want to read this one! Seriously, my list from your blog keeps getting longer. Lol.

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  14. Oh, I need to read these! I like that, while heavier, you still really enjoyed the story and characters. I do wish they were longer (not even having read them yet - because they sound so good) but I'm glad the author does novellas well.

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  15. I'm in love with the title. I don't know why but it so appeals!! I like a lighter read but a well-written story works, too.

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