A MelanieM Review: Baked Fresh (Portland Heat #2) by Annabeth Albert

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Baked Fresh coverFrom 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…

Annabeth Albert is an author I was unfamiliar with before now. Baked Fresh is my first introduction and its a good one.  The blurb offers up a number of elements guaranteed to pull me in such as cooking, baking, and romance.  But what is not apparent from the synopsis is that Baked Fresh contains one more element that I find irresistable….realistic characters who physically conform more to the norm than to the “Greek god” form of perfection.

Please don’t get me wrong…I do love my romances that contain love between two rugged/stunning/drop dead gorgeous/over the top specimens of the male gender. *fans* But its all about variety for me as well.  I want the guys who are a little worn around the edges, maybe a little bald or plump, maybe a little older or tarnished in attitude or outlook. Or even those men who have worked hard to tone up or better themselves….for themselves.  And its those men that Albert is writing about…heartwarmingly and realistically.  They grabbed at my heartstrings and I hope you will give them a chance.  Let’s take a closer look.

Vic DeGrassi is one of those quiet, surprising men that you might actually meet on the streets, Portland or otherwise.  A family history of heart disease and dying young made Vic take a hard look at his own health and extra (lots of extra) weight that he was carrying.  His answer to his predicament is a stomach band, a brave and often unpleasant operation.  Albert lets us into the fact that this is not the glamourous cure all you might think it is.  There’s the ugly scar, the minuscule list of food items that Vic can eat without making himself ill….it’s not an easy lifestyle to maintain, even after the operation.  But Vic looks at the risks and changes his lifestyle and we believe in him all the way.  The operation is over when the book begins and Vic has already well on his way to remaking himself.  He shaved his head, works out but the image in his mind is still the large, ungainly guy he remembers reflected back at him all those years, from his family included. The man you come to love through his thoughts, conversation and actions is a little more “old world” in manners, and outlook.  Vic’s charming, protective, and a wonderful man.   And he’s perfect for Robin.

Robin Dawson is also that quiet young man working away, trying to make a difference in his community and world.  He’s a little beaten down, lacking in self confidence.  His background is more problematic than Vic’s and it will explain his work at the local shelter, again made very authentic for the reader.  Robin’s pain is never far from the service and we meet him on a downward spiral after being dumped.  I took him to heart as well.

Their relationship is slow to grow, which is great.  We are there as Vic and Robin build something substantial, brick by hopeful brick.  They get to know each other, there are some surprises and quite a lot of very sexy love scenes.  These two, especially Vic, are inventive and fierce when they finally come together.  It’s hot, its sexy and it’s a lot of fun to read.

Is the book perfect?  No, just as its characters, it has some flaws and imperfections.  Not enough background in some cases, too much exposition in others.  And also a tad short…..I did want more of Vic and Robin and their future together.  You will too.

I haven’t read the first story and you really don’t need to in order to involve yourself with Vic and Robin.  But I so enjoyed this story that I will be searching out the first and then waiting for the third story to arrive.  I believe Annabeth Albert has me hooked with her honest characters, heartwarming romance and believable plots.  So consider Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert a new wonderful surprise and a lovely recommended read.

Cover art by ?, I thought the cover  quiet and simple.  Not over the top which is actually kind of perfect for the men within, neither of which are those models on the cover.  That’s the only shame.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe)          Amazon              Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 159 pages
Expected publication: April 13th 2015 by Kensington
ISBN 1601833938 (ISBN13: 9781601833938)
seriesPortland Heat #2

Book in the Portland Heat series:

Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1)
Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)
Delivered Fast (Portland Heat, #3)

 

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