Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert Blog Tour

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…

Add to Goodreads

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

“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!

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The author explored two issues in this story that I find are often lacking from m/m romances. The first being issues around sexual performance and function, and the second being body image. Robin struggles with sex due to his past and Vic has spent the last year losing 100 pounds following bariatric surgery.

Baked Fresh is a lovely romance between two ordinary guys dealing with real life problems. The story is emotional and sweet and at time very hot. I'm enjoying the Portland Heat series very much and I look forward to the next story.

Vic believes in New Year's resolutions. He makes them and keeps to them. He's put himself through culinary school becoming a baker, gave up smoking, lost over a hundred pounds and this year he resolves to start dating. He hasn't dated anyone in years but he is tired of being alone. It's time to move his life in the right direction. When the one man he truly wants suddenly becomes single, he doesn't know if he has what it takes to make a relationship work. Robin has his own set of issues, can he let Vic help him through them? Is he ready to let go of the pain of the past?

“Then believe. Believe in us.”

I do love Ms. Albert's writing style. I always find myself drawn in by her words. Baked Fresh is no different I was pulled into the story and loved the path it took. Very good read.

This is the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone. Baked Fresh was a sweet story and I really enjoyed it. Vic is someone who always goes through with his New Year’s resolutions and this year is no different. Vic has had a crush on Robin for years but never had a chance to follow through on that, now that Robin is no longer in a relationship he plans to change that. From starting off as just friends, then friends with benefits and then more, this is a must-read heartwarming story.

Characters: The characters were well written and believable.
Sex: Yes
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: Yes
Genre: M/M Romance
Would I read more by this author: Yes

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
I really enjoyed this book. Two people whose lives have been less than stellar take a chance at being friends, hanging out. Slow and steady friendship slowly becomes romance though neither Vic nor Robin want to admit that being in a relationship makes them happy.

Each struggle with their past hanging over their present and the book is written in such a way that you can't help but root for the happiness of Vic and Robin.

This is the second in a series, but can be read as a standalone.

This story deals will a lot of difficult issues, but that is not what makes the immediate impression. Instead it is the picture painted of Vic. This once big guy, who is working hard to lose weight, stay fit and he hopes capture the attention of Robin, who he has loved from afar for a good while. He is both ordinary, yet as we all are, in some way extraordinary. I loved how deeply we were allowed into his head. Robin too filled out as the story progressed, but really only thanks to Vic. Great writing, lovely, intense and ultimately, sexy story.

Thank you Ms. Albert. I look forward to the next in the series.

Based on my experience with Served Hot, I expected Baked Fresh to be another sweet M/M romance. While it did have its sweet moments, Ms. Albert served up a heck of a lot more heat this time around… no pun intended just because Vic is a baker. There were also more emotional time bombs in Baked Fresh that pushed it over the edge from a four-star read to a five-star read for me as it has made its way to my re-read shelf.

Vic is a big bear of an Italian man who uses his commitment to New Year’s resolutions to affect major changes within his life – attending culinary school, losing over 100 pounds, stop smoking. This year he has decided to try dating. He’s tired of being alone and wants to find someone to fill that void in his life. Interestingly, while Vic does have someone he’s been crushing on, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for the guy and while Robin may have been the why behind the resolution, he’s not Vic’s goal – at least not consciously. But fate has a funny way of giving a guy the opportunity he needs because Robin’s boyfriend just dumped him and it gives Vic the opportunity he needs to become a part of Robin’s life away from the shelter.

What I liked about Vic’s situation is that he approaches much of what he does with Robin with a “hope for the best” mindset, while being happy with just having the opportunity to spend time with Robin. This allows their relationship to develop in a natural progression from friends to lovers to more. Because of the personal issues each man has – Vic’s body image issues and Robin’s sexual anxieties – theirs is a path fraught with plenty of speedbumps and detours. Even though I didn’t get quite to the point of crying, Vic and Robin’s journey certainly had its heartbreaking moments of loss and doubt, but those were well balanced with laughs, friendship, romance, sexy foreplay, seriously hot sex as Vic helped Robin work through his sexual issues, and acceptance. Yes, acceptance is a common theme in M/M romances; however, in Baked Fresh this was not the acceptance of one due to their homosexuality, but rather their acceptance of themselves for who they were and the acceptance by their partner for being the exact person the other needed – baggage and all. Baked Fresh was an excellent addition to the Portland Heat series and I am already anticipating what Ms. Albert serves up next in Delivered Fast.

Also Available in the Portland Heat Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Book 3
Coming May 26th

Pre-Order Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

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.

Connect with Annabeth

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FB Fan Group  ~  Google+  ~  Tumblr  ~  tsū

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Baked Fresh (Portland Heat #2) by Annabeth Albert to read and review for this tour.

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