Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Delivered Fast by Annabeth Albert Blog Tour

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…

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Book 3
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The delivery boy had sweet buns. Not to mention prize-winning rolls. He wore a pair of those fancy over-the-ear headphones and shimmied around the white bakery truck, his hips and ass working in time to what was apparently a killer beat. Even the way he climbed into the back of the truck was a choreographed dance. I wasn’t usually one to get distracted by eye candy, but that ass . . .

I’d propped open the service door at the rear of my coffee shop about fifteen minutes earlier, hoping to coax a cool breeze into the stuffy storeroom where I’d been working. I leaned against the door frame, appreciating the unexpectedly fine view in the alley.

When the guy emerged from the truck—headphones around his neck, carrying a stack of pink boxes—I pushed away from the door and met him at the edge of the concrete steps. I tried to play it cool, like I hadn’t spent the last five minutes perving on his world-class bubble butt.

“You’re not Vic,” I said as I ushered him into the hallway that led back to the kitchen and storeroom.

“Nope. I’m Lance, Vic’s cousin. I’ll be handling your deliveries from here on out.” His smile—a wide, toothy grin—was almost as adorable as his butt. The only resemblance he had to my usual beefy delivery guy was in the chiseled facial features and light olive skin. He looked like he’d be right at home playing World Cup soccer for Italy with his wide shoulders, lean torso, muscular thighs and legs. And that ass.

Which I was going to stop thinking about right the hell now. He was too young—I could see that even more clearly under the fluorescent lights of my kitchen. Early twenties, if that. His gelled-up black hair fell across his forehead in artfully bleached strands. Too high maintenance for my taste.

“I’m Chris O’Neal. Here, let me help you with those.” Taking part of the stack from him, I showed him the metal racks where I stashed recent deliveries.

“Nice setup you’ve got here.” Lance looked around the cramped but efficient kitchen area.

“Thanks.” Most of The People’s Cup square footage was devoted to the coffee bar and seating area in the front, so I made do in the back with my organization system, which bordered on the obsessive. I’d installed floor-to-ceiling shelving on every wall, including over the cooktop and counters. The center prep table was where most of the action happened, and its broad expanse was covered with the beginnings of several dishes for tomorrow’s Sunday brunch.

“I’ve been here before with friends from PSU—for your Sunday thing. And during the week once or twice to study.”

I made a noncommittal noise. Great. A college kid. As if I needed to feel like more of an old, cranky perv.

“Let’s get the rest of the boxes.” I herded him back out to the alley. I was eager to get him and his distracting ass on his way. I had several more hours of staging work ahead of me to prepare for Sunday’s buffet. During the week we were just another coffeehouse, but we were known all over Portland for our Sunday brunch.

“So are you the owner? This all yours?” Lance asked as he got another load of boxes from the truck.

“Yeah. Mine and my partner’s. Business partner.” I fumbled the stack of boxes he handed me. Why had it felt so necessary to make that qualification? Like the kid would be in any way interested in my messed-up business relationship with my stubborn bastard of an ex.

Despite his pretty-boy looks, the kid was probably straight; he had a confident swagger girls his age likely found irresistible.

“I’ve been to your other place, too—the one in Northwest. Did the delivery there earlier. I like this location better.”

“Me too,” I said, my voice drier than gin. “Randy give you any issues?”

Randy had his location; I had mine. Our relationship had turned into something out of a bad chick flick, except there wasn’t any cute ending coming.

“Randy? Nah. It was some girl named Becky, with a nose ring and huge gauges.”

I nodded. That sounded about right for Randy’s taste. And I was not going to care whether he was banging her or how long she’d last as an employee. His shitty employee turnover wasn’t my problem. I’d washed my hands of what happened at the 23rd Street store.

“You want a cup of coffee for the road?” I asked before I could stop myself. It was the same courtesy I’d always extended to his cousin and to most of our other delivery people, but somehow my offer felt tinged with more than politeness.

“What do you have on offer today?” His grin was more than a little wicked.

Wouldn’t you like to know? I bit back the flirtatious retort. And what the hell was up with that? I did not flirt. Hell, anything other than bitter and grumpy hadn’t been my MO for months now.


Can Lance bring out the softer side of this cranky chef? Find out in DELIVERED FAST!

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Delivered Fast was a quick sexy little read. Ms. Albert has a way about her writing that I always sympathize with the characters. Chris is thirty five, owns his own coffee house. It wasn't ever his dream to open the coffee house it was Randy's, Chris's boyfriend at the time. So Chris set aside his dreams to follow Randy. Now they are no longer together but Chris makes the best of it.

Lance is in his early twenties and getting ready to start grad school. He's working as a delivery guy for the bakery. Chris notices Lance but knows he is way too old for him. Lance still pursues Chris, looking for some fun. Can they make the age difference work or will one night be enough?

I loved the message of following your dreams. To make sure you find that person in your life that will help you explore your dreams and not crush them for their own selfish reasons. A job well done Ms. Albert. This series and the characters made for great little reads. My only complaint is that they aren't longer.

Chris is more than 10 years older than Lance, who is a college student still living at home. Chris struggles to accept their age gap which is a non-issue for Lance. He also he carries a lot of baggage from his past relationship and it holds him back from getting what he really wants. Lance is young, determined, hardworking and great fun. He is perfect for Chris, helping him to enjoy life and the world again.

Told from Chris' point of view, I felt every emotion he did. The heat, the trepidation, the love, the joy – all of it. This novella packed a big punch for me. This series gets better with every book. I loved Delivered Fast.

Mary Jo☆☆☆
The Players: Chris O'Neal and Lance Degrassi

The Story: Chris O'Neal is a mid-thirties coffee shop owner and introvert. His split from his last partner was more than two years ago and he still hasn't emotionally recovered from the hurt and betrayal he felt at the time. He's put all his time into making his shop work and doesn't feel the need to get back into the dating world. Until his new bakery delivery driver walks into his shop.

From the first, Chris can't take his eyes off Lance and in his mind, it’s all look – no touch. Lance has to be in his early 20s and for a guy like him to try to hook up with a guy like Lance, it just wouldn't work. No matter how attracted he is to Lance, he knows it won’t work. After all, if a guy his age won't have him, why would Lance?

What worked/what didn't

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I understand Chris's reservations about dating someone younger, but to the extent that it did, had me skipping over some of Chris's inner monologue.

I really enjoyed Chris's actions when he stepped up and admitted what was really going on in his head and telling Lance. Lance's anger was real and so was his forgiveness.

Part of a Series: Portland Heat

I have read all the stories in the series, and this is definitely in contention for being my favourite. The writing flows so easily, making the characters come to life on the page. We have met some of the cast before, but the story concentrates on Chris and Lance, Vic's new delivery guy and student cousin. I would love to know what Chris really looks like, as he paints himself as such a grumpy old man – funny! Values, expectations and the effects if one's past are haunting his future happiness, and frustrating Lance. The plan to be friends with benefits isn't really working either – but the feelings that they have for each other are a threat to Chris's plans. Loved the whole story, and how it worked out.

Ms. Albert saved the best for last – unless she plans to expand the series beyond the three books, which I would love to see happen. Served Hot was sweet and Baked Fresh was hot, but Delivered Fast was sizzling as we got to watch Chris and Lance’s one-night stand become a friends with benefits arrangement until eventually their love was realized. Unfortunately for the guys (but not the reader), getting from point A to point C was not accomplished without some serious heartbreak along the way.

While we haven’t met Chris in the previous books in the series (not that I recall anyway), it was easy to see from the very beginning that he has kept himself closed off from relationships since his breakup with his ex two years earlier. His gruff nature does nothing to encourage others to approach him, and yet it lacks is seemingly repellent nature when Lance bee-bops into Chris’s life, literally. Despite Chris’s best effort to keep Lance at a distance, theirs seems to be a case of opposites attract. Because their personalities complement one another, it made their interactions both entertaining and smooth reading. I enjoyed “hanging out” with the guys for a couple of hours as I immersed myself in their story. That they had amazing chemistry, which made for some seriously sexy bedroom scenes was a huge bonus. It’s also what made their breakup so sad.

Even though we revisit the age-difference issue in Delivered Fast, it impacted Chris and Lance’s relationship in an entirely different way than it did Vic and Robin’s so it didn’t feel like a recycled storyline. While I understood and commended Chris’s desire to not hold Lance back from his dreams and future, I hated that it came with such a high price tag. Fortunately, Vic was able to give Chris some much need guidance as both the decade-older partner and as Lance’s cousin. I was relieved that Chris took Vic’s advice to heart and realized that in trying to protect Lance from becoming resentful toward him in the way he resented his ex, Randy, he was making the same kind of mistake – making decisions that affected both of them without considering what Lance wanted. And as much as I enjoyed their make-up scenes, it was the discussion about Chris’s next tattoo that really got to me because that was when Chris seemed to finally get how perfect Lance was for him. Delivered Fast has definitely been added to my re-read list and I really hope that Ms. Albert is contemplating another addition to the Portland Heat series – a book for Brady maybe?

Also Available in the Portland Heat Series
Book 1
Buy Links

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

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Served Hot Blog Tour.
Book 2
Buy Links

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

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Baked Fresh Blog Tour.

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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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Delivered Fast (Portland Heat #3) by Annabeth Albert to read and review for this tour.

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