Annabeth Albert


Portland Heat: Served Hot (2015), Baked Fresh (2015), Delivered Fast (2015)

Frozen Hearts: Arctic Sun (2019)

Portland Heat

Served Hot (2015)

Served HotRobert Edwards (Robbie to his friends) runs a coffee cart in the atrium of the Old EMerson building in Portland, and every day, his favorite customer, David, comes by at 11:50 for a vanilla latte.

Robbie has a huge crush on David, but isn’t sure if David is into him–or even into guys. And even if he is, Robbie doesn’t want another closeted boy-friend.

David, however, has issues to deal with.

“You feel what you need to feel.” What did I know about grief? I would be pissed, but I wasn’t David. And if David’s sadness made me feel smaller, I didn’t think it was intentional. I’d just have to work past it. Same as him. I wanted to trust in us both.

The story is all from Robbie’s POV, and we learn only very slowly about David’s past, and why he’s so reticent. (He has a lot of reasons, and they’re all quite good.) It also unfolds over the better part of a year, with David slowly sharing himself with Robbie.

Robbie and David with both very sweet, and both had communication issues, Robbie’s natural, and David’s stemming from his past, so it makes sense that things would happen slowly.

However, at times the story felt a bit disjointed, jumping about in time. I never quite felt the worry of whether things would work out–obviously they were going to, because it’s a romance–so the story needs to draw me completely in to make me feel the tension that Robbie felt, and this never quite did that.

I did have a major issue with the way the ebook was formatted at one point, which caused me to think the book was missing a chunk. In fact, even if it had been a little more clear these were two separate scenes, I probably still would have had issues, because the switch is so abrupt.

After the greetings, we headed into the house, (woman) leading the way. “So tell me, Robby,” she said over her shoulder, “how do you feel about venison?”

“I’m sorry,” David whispered next to me.

“It’ll be fine,” I whispered back, leaning toward him a little. “But I’ll let you make it up to me later, if it makes you feel any better.”    

“You sure I’ll like this?”

“Of course I am,” I lied.

“Well, I suppose I do owe you.”

“You do.” I grinned up at him, all teeth and sass. It was good to be home.

That’s just really abrupt, and since the first scene was very short, it was extremely confusing.

To be clear, it wasn’t a bad story, and I wanted both Robbie and David to be happy, but I was never deeply invested in what happened to them.

On the plus side, I borrowed this from the library, so I’m not mad at it for being a bit weak, so I’m going to borrow the next book in the series, to see if the writing becomes a little stronger.

Publisher: Lyrical Press
Rating: 5.5/10

Baked Fresh (2015)

Baked FreshVic Degrassi is a baker with plans for the future–and he’s a man who does what he sets out to. After losing his job, he went to culinary school. After losing his cousin and best friend, he got surgery and lost 111 pounds and became fit. His next goal: a boyfriend.

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.

And he really wants Robin Dawson, who also volunteers at the shelter and had worked hard to keep his own promise of sobriety.

Vic has crushed on Robin for years, but Robin is young and beautiful–and on the rebound–so Vic feels he doesn’t really have a chance, but decides to try anyway.

The entire story is from Vic’s point of view, which means we see his issues and hang-ups, and his slow realization that Robin has his own past to sort through. Vic is focused on his body and the parts of his makeover that he didn’t expect, so he doesn’t quite see how gorgeous Robin might not feel perfect himself, and have his own fears and weaknesses.

It’s really a lovely story.

“You are here for reason— you’re here for you.”

Publisher: Lyrical Press
Rating: 7/10

Delivered Fast (2015)

Delivered FastThis is probably my least favorite book in this series so far, mostly because it starts with a hook-up, and a LOT of the story is centered around their boinking.

That doesn’t make it a bad story, but it just isn’t my thing.

Chris O’Neal is co-owner of The People’s Cup, a coffee shop that does a vegan / vegetarian brunch on Sundays that’s popular with all kinds of folks. Unfortunately for him, the other owner is his ex, but luckily Randy works at the other location, so they don’t have to deal with each other every day.

Lance Degrassi is working hard to finish college so he can get into his dream grad school, but between his job delivering for the bakery and school, he and Chris eventually manage to carve out and on-going thing that is definitely NOT a relationship.

It’s not a relationship because Chris is certain he is entirely too old for Lance, and a serious relationship would keep Lance from living his life and discovering who he could really be.

And that’s what keeps the two apart–Chris certain that he’ll ruin Lance’s life and keep him from the life he deserves if they become exclusive.

What I did like about this story was Lance’s family, and how loving and supportive they are. We only see things from Chris’ POV, and life and coming out were very very different for him than from Lance, which colored part of his assumptions.

But as I said, the relationship wasn’t particularly my thing, so this definitely wasn’t the book for me.

Publisher: Lyrical Press
Rating: 6/10

Frozen Hearts

Arctic Sun (2019)

Arctic SunRiver Vale, supermodel turned traveler and writer, is not what Griffin Barrett wants on this tour. He’d rather not be running the tour at all, but with his uncle hurt, there’s no one else to do it.

…the customers. Oh, his mom called them guests, but really, it helped Griffin to think of them as what they were— big dollar signs that could make the difference for him and the rest of his family.

Griff and River are both damaged characters (hello catnip!), and each is afraid to let the other see the extent of the damage–especially since Griff has no interest in leaving Alaska, and River won’t stay still. River is in recovery from an eating disorder, while Griff uses hard work to help him stay sober.

River’s continual struggle with his eating disorder is almost heartbreaking to read, because it’s not anything that he can ever really just forget about (although staying out of the limelight helps). I can’t think of a book I’ve read that deals so openly and bluntly with what being in recovery from an eating disorder is like, and I think it’s something most people truly don’t consider. It was extremely well done–but also heart-breaking.

It’s partly control— I don’t like not having charge of what happens— but it’s also wrapped up in my body image stuff and the eating disorder. I have a hard time letting myself have good things.”

And Griff is just as broken, but in a different way. He may be sober, but he has a difficult time socializing without the crutch of alcohol, which makes leading a tour particularly difficult.

Also? There’s hiking.

The hike took them over a long wooden bridge away from the road until River felt the familiar thrill he got when hiking away from civilization— all the obligations and expectations that rattled around his head faded until it was only him and this spot on the planet, the rush of being privileged to get to see all this abundance of beauty.

How could I not love this book?

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 8.5/10