Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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…
After finishing Baked Fresh, the 2nd book in the Portland Heat series, I was curious to see if Annabeth Albert could maintain the light and lively tone and endearing characters that have been a staple of her other stories in this series, stories I absolutely enjoyed. In Delivered Fast, the author answers that question with a “Hell yes!”.
I fell hard for the bald, courteous baker Vic in Baked Fresh. I also fell in love with his large, boisterous family that supported him. So I was thrilled to find out that one of the main characters, Lance Degrassi, is Vic’s cousin, and while he is certainly a lovely, vital person on his own, Albert has, not surprisingly, imbued him with many of the believable and ingratiating characteristics that made Vic so deeply lovable and memorable. Lance is full of life, intelligent and he knows what he wants. That would be the tatted, bearded, flannel-wearing chef, Chris O’Neal. Problem is that life and his ex have left Chris wounded and walled off from new relationships.
One of the things I so admire about Albert’s stories is that while they have an easy flow to them that makes them a quick read, her characters are complicated men getting through life as honestly and responsibly as possible. In fact, Chris is bemused that while preoccupied in his self isolation, his personal (and unchanging) style of tats, beard, and flannel has become hip, making him and his restaurant the hippest (or is that hipster) things around. I think many people will be able to connect with Chris whose trust was broken by someone he loved and still has to work with as they are connected through the two restaurants they still own together. He’s has an authentic feel in every way, from his conversations (or lack of) to his brusk manner with all around him. Yep, I adored him.
Change arrives in the form of Lance, vivacious, aware, intelligent Lance. He’s sexy and sparkling, and that attracts Chris no matter how hard he tries to ignore it. What follows is a realistic journey towards a loving and giving relationship for both Chris and Lance. At times frustrating, rewarding, sexy and painful, I loved this slow take towards a deeply moving and supportive relationship. It may be a case of instant attraction but actual love is something that arrives slowly here, achieved in baby steps and maybe one final leap of faith. I’m telling you that Annabeth Albert and her Portland Heat series has me completely and throughly hooked.
I have been reading these out of order, and that works just fine. Characters from the other stories pop up but know who they are isn’t central to your understanding and enjoyment of the story you are reading at the moment. Although, having just said that Albert gave those of us who loved Baked Fresh, a surprise peak into Vic and Robin’s current relationship status. Loved that too!
Love contemporary M/M romance? Need a new series or characters to fall in love with? Pick up Delivered Fast from Annabeth Albert, then go on to read the rest. I hope there are more stories coming in this Portland Heat series, I am ready for more…more complicated wonderful men in search of love in Portland. I highly recommend this story as well as the rest.
Cover art by Fiona Jayde is light and fresh, perfect for the story within.
ebook, 128 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Kensington
original titleDelivered Fast
ISBN 1601833946 (ISBN13: 9781601833945)
Books in the Portland Heat Series are connected by location, and loosely by characters, All can be read as standalone stories.
- Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1)
- Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)
- Delivered Fast (Portland Heat, #3)