Book Blast: Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert ~ (ARC Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)
Author Name: Annabeth Albert
Book Name: Baked Fresh
Release Date: April 13, 2015
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
Pages or Words: 45,000 words
Pages or Words: 45,000 words
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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…
Categories: Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
“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.
Once Vic resolves to be Robin’s rebound guy, can he convince Robin that they’re meant to be? Find out in BAKED FRESH!
Tracy and Mari's Review:
*Copy provided by author/publisher via Pride Promotions/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Tracy: Vic is a baker at a bakery that delivers the leftovers to the homeless shelter. He has had a crush on one of the Shelter volunteers, Robin for a couple years. After losing his cousin the year before to a heart attack, Vic decides he needs a change, so he opts for weight loss surgery, and over the next year loses over 100 pounds. Vic may have lost the weight, but he is still the same insecure person. He may look good with clothes on, but underneath the clothes, drastic weight loss has done a number on his body.
Robin is a former addict, the shelter rescued him and he has been clean for 3 years, but when his jerk of a boyfriend Paul breaks up with him he vows no more boyfriends. Can Vic change his mind?
This was such a touching story. It was powerful. It was about two people needing to heal and learn to accept, love and believe in themselves before they could love, accept and believe in one another. A lesson that is far from easy. Beautifully written, Annabeth brought me to tears.
I loved that Vic was so patient with Robin. He took his time to show him what it was like to really be loved. He took the time to help him overcome the difficulties he faced. He was there for him even when Robin pushed him away.
Robin was frustrating and immature. Vic was the star of this book, and not just because the book is told from his POV, but because he is just a very special person.
These characters had a good chemistry. This was a great plot and the story moved at a good pace. Annabeth is quickly becoming one my favorite authors in the m/m genre. I am looking forward to the next book in this series as well as more books in the future by her.
Mari: I agree wholeheartedly, Tracy, Vic was such a fantastic character. I just couldn't not fall for him. He was strong and despite his insecurities, he was supportive and encouraging and willing to do anything for Robin, even when I just wanted to slap some sense into Robin and scream at him to please grow up and see what a wonderful man he had in Vic.
The story was amazing! I truly enjoyed almost every little bit of it and despite being annoyed at Robin, I really wanted Vic to get his HEA, so yeah, I was so rooting for these two. They did have great chemistry and the sex scenes were hot, too.
The story moved along nicely and we got a fantastic set of secondary characters that truly added up to the story and made it more realistic.
Annabeth Albert has been one of my favorite authors from the first story of hers I read and so far, I haven't been disappointed. I'm so looking forward to the next story in this series. It sounds awesome, too!
Tracy and Mari's Rating: 5 Stars!!!
About the author: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
Where to find the author:
Parker Williams, MM Good Book Reviews, Divine Magazine, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, BFD Book Blog, Tara Lain, Hearts on Fire, Bayou Book Junkie, My Fiction Nook, Inked Rainbow Reads, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Love Bytes, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Bike Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews,Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Cathy Brockman Romances, Cate Ashwood, Three Chicks After Dark, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Because Two Men Are Better, Than One, Charley Descoteaux, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Elin Gregory, Andrew Q. Gordon