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Portland Heat #2

Baked Fresh

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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…

159 pages, ebook

First published April 13, 2015

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About the author

Annabeth Albert

90 books3,239 followers
Frequent tweeter, professional grammar nerd, and obsessive reader, Annabeth Albert is also a Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 277 reviews
February 20, 2015
It's official: Annabeth Albert is an auto-read author for me. Her writing is always polished, and her stories emotional without being overly angsty.

I enjoyed the first Portland Heat book, but I liked this one even more.

Vic, whose first-person POV filters this story, is not a perfect MC. After his cousin who was also his best friend drops dead from a heart attack at the age of 33, Vic has lap band surgery and loses more than 100 pounds in the course of a year.

Vic goes from big Italian bear daddy to average dude with a shaved head (which is far preferable to a receding hairline).

Vic still sees a fat man when he looks in the mirror. He's self-conscious about his body, despite spending hours at the gym each week, and his inner monologue is self-deprecating.

That did not annoy me as much as it made me sad. Vic just doesn't think any man, much less the gorgeous, much younger Robin, would go out with him.

At one points Robin tells Vic he looks like the Rock and Vin Diesel had a love child, which made me think Vic was much better looking than he gave himself credit for.

But Robin has a past and issues of his own. When the two men start hanging out (NOT dating *ahem*), their chemistry is immediate. I loved the way Vic treated Robin. He was all toppy in bed and took control, something Robin desperately needed him to do.

Robin, who is unceremoniously dumped by his douchey boyfriend at the beginning of the book, insists he's through with men, but the more time he spends with Vic, the more the area between friends-with-benefits and the real thing blurs. Robin sees Vic, encourages him, pushes him a little.

When a tragedy strikes the homeless shelter where both Robin and Vic volunteer, Robin falls apart. But Vic is there to catch him.

This was such a sweet story, and not just because Vic is a baker and makes fabulous, delicious cakes and pastries (although that helped!).

The relationship between the men is tender and real; there is plenty of steamy, lightly kinky bits; and the ending is a totes smile-worthy HEA.

I am loving this series!
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,444 followers
Shelved as 'i-m-a-quitter'
February 10, 2015

DNF @ 51%

I'm sorry but this book was terrible. And I liked the first one, and have liked the other stuff I have read by this author. But this one DID NOT work for me. AT ALL!

The main characters were needy, whiny, desperate, and not at all sexy.

"Now, though, I was just another thirtysomething guy with a receding hairline and decidedly average body...."

So yeah, right off the bat I am not finding our MC Vic very appealing. You lost a bunch of weight, good for you....find some self-esteem while you're at it?

He was so desperate for Robin it was embarrassing.

I literally rolled my eyes the entire portion that I read. The dialogue was beyond cheesy.

And he called Robin "boy" in the bedroom.

Seriously made me cringe.

I don't know what happened here, or what Annabeth was smoking when she wrote this one but....

I think this is my first DNF of an MM book. I never DNF MM books. That should tell you something...

ARC kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,724 reviews464 followers
April 13, 2015
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

4 Stars!

I enjoyed this story. This is only the second M/M romance that I have read with the other story being the first in this series, Served Hot. I thought that this story was just the right combination of sweet and sexy just like the first in the series. This story could easily be read as a stand alone since the stories really don't overlap at all with the exception of a appearance of the couple from the first novella in one scene. This is a rather short piece that most readers will be able to finish in a couple of hours but it tells such a completely wonderful story.

This story focuses on Vic and Robin and is told from Vic's point of view. Vic is a baker and the bakery where he works donates food to the local shelter. Robin spends a lot of time at the shelter as a volunteer. Vic has had a crush on Robin for quite some time but he has never acted on it. When Vic finds out the Robin and his boyfriends have broken up, he decides to take a chance.

Vic has recently underwent a lot of changes. He made the decision to lose weight after the death of several family members and he ended up losing over 100 pounds. His self esteem isn't great but he is willing to take a chance with Robin. He decides that he is willing to be the rebound guy for Robin if that is what it takes to be with him.

Robin has been through a lot as well. The shelter is incredibly important to him. He had no idea that Vic has had a crush on him. He decides to spend some time with Vic and the pair seem to work well together. Both of these men have been through a lot in their lives and they end up being very supportive of each other.

I liked both of the characters even though there was a lot of issues with self esteem. I think that a lot of people have these issues in real life and I thought it was presented in these characters very authentically. There seemed to be a much larger focus on sex in this story than in the first. These characters had a lot of chemistry and worked well together.

I would recommend this story to fans of M/M romance. This novella really tells such a full story in just a few pages. I can't wait to read the next installment in this wonderful little series.

I received a copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,390 reviews651 followers
January 4, 2016

***3.75 Cake and Confidence Stars***

Another sweet winner from Annabeth Albert! Baked Fresh solidified for me that I've found a new author to follow for when I'm in the mood for endearing and slightly flawed characters all wrapped up in an engaging and sweet story.

Here we meet Vic, a newly slimmed down pastry chef. Since the loss of his father, he's been on the mission to make life changing New Years' resolutions....from losing weight (100 pounds!) to running a marathon to conquering his love life. This year's goal is to finally find love, which he hopes comes in the form of Robin - his fellow volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Robin is a former shelter inhabitant who now works to help the kids that are so much like he used to be. He's found comfort in the shelter and now wants to give back. Robin also recently broke up with his douchey boyfriend, so he's not really looking to jump into another relationship.

With his recent weight loss, Vic still has some self-esteem and body issues. He has a hard time not picturing his former, chubbier self (even though Robin tells him he reminds him of a love child between Vin Diesel and The Rock - - ummm, helloooooo Vic, VERY nice to meet ya!). However, even though Vic has these self esteem issues, it doesn't stop him from pursuing Robin...in any capacity. If Robin only wants a rebound guy, then that's what he'll be...he just wants Robin in his life and hopes that maybe more can grow.

But what happens when the douchey ex-boyfriend pops back into the picture? Can Vic really stick to his "rebound guy" status or will his deeper feelings for Robin get in the way? And when tragedy strikes one of the teens from the shelter, sending Robin into an emotional tailspin, can Vic trust him to stay clean?

I really liked Vic! Having this book entirely from his point of view worked for me in so many ways. We got to see how much he really liked Robin and how he struggled with his self esteem issues, however he never showed his depth of insecurity to the outside world. He didn't let his hangups get in the way of what he wanted...and that laser focus was zeroed in on Robin. And what a lucky boy Robin was....because HOT DAMN, when Vic got himself going, there was NO stopping him! I'll take a bossy top any day of the week!

That's another surprise that I liked about this book...its balance of sweet and sexy. Don't be fooled here folks, you definitely get some serious steam! And our former chubster Vic.....well he's got a way with the words, if you know what I'm saying!

I did have one issue that wouldn't allow me to rate this one higher. Once the ages of the MC's were revealed, it threw everything off balance for me. Neither guy, but primarily Vic, really fit the mold of how old they were. I felt Vic's character behaved younger (I choose younger and not immature, because I don't mean that in a negative sense) than what he was supposed to be. Though this could just be me.

Overall, this is a great, low-angst, sweet and steamy addition to the Portland Heat series, which I'm thoroughly enjoying! I'm looking forward to the next book and more from this author!

**ARC courtesy of author, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,136 reviews432 followers
June 10, 2017
Well once again this was far more angsty than one would guess from such a benign cover and title. Way more than a simple, superficial romance, throw in some weighty issues like drug use, unaccepting families, and homelessness to add some emotional gravitas.

I loved the doubt and insecurity and vulnerability between Vic and Robin, and despite said benign cover and title, make no mistake about the hot factor. Yum. Eee.

This pretty much solidified that Annabeth Albert will be an automatic buy for me from here on out.
Profile Image for Ami.
5,811 reviews499 followers
February 14, 2015
2.5 stars

Annabeth Albert is a relatively new addition in my 'authors-to-watch' list because I discover that I like her writing style. When she informed that she was releasing a series with Kensington Publishing, I was pretty happy. I enjoyed the first book -- it was meet-cute entertaining. Unfortunately, this one didn't work for me at all, and sadly became my least favorite story of hers so far.

Now, I did like the idea of both Vic and Robin not being perfect. I like my men flawed -- perfection can be boring. Vic is continuously having body-image issues -- he went for lap band surgery since his family has history with heart attack. While he loses more than 100 pounds in a year, he also thinks the result makes him ... well, not as attractive. Previously he can work out his bear image. While Robin used to be an addict and having problem in bed because he used to fuck only when he was high. He also just came out from a relationship and is adamant of not wanting to date men for a while. So these two had things to work out.

Somehow, I found the writing to be awkward and stilted this time. Now, I am giving leniency to typos and weird sentences (that I noticed even if I am not an English native, and thus usually don't care about this thing) because I thought since this was an advanced readers copy, it would probably be edited later. However, the words didn't go as smoothly for me. I had to re-read some paragraphs twice because my eyes seemed to glazed over. I also kept being distracted by other things and near the end I started skimming, just to get it over with.

I think my biggest issue in here was because I didn't really believe in Vic and Robin as a couple. Okay, I liked Vic enough -- but I was a little put off by Robin. I knew he had his issues, but the whole push and pull he did with Vic was grating on my nerves after awhile. Especially because I thought it was rather one sided. I disliked how Robin kept pushing Vic away. It seemed like he was okay with Vic taking charge in bed, but when it came to his own personal issues, he didn't want to let Vic in.

My annoyance with Robin came to the highest level after the tragedy that happened with one of the teens Robin had formed attachment with at the center. I knew that Vic jumped into conclusion but Robin's reaction to it was over the top. Again, I knew he had his personal issues, but for me it seemed like Robin didn't even care that Vic had his too. Robin didn't really soothe Vic's lack of self-esteem. I disliked him immensely after that and it was hard for me to feel sympathetic. In fact, I kind of wish that Vic gets a different man who can fully appreciate him.

On top of that, I found the sex scenes to be very off-putting. Maybe I was influenced by the 'clean/sweet' image of the first book, so when suddenly we had kinky scenes with D/s undertone, it threw me off my balance. It was totally NOT the way I imagined Vic and Robin would connect. Oh, and the whole 'baby' and 'boy' thing in the bedroom? Not. Sexy. Well not to me. I guess everyone who knows me well know how much I despise 'baby' as endearment anyway *shrugs*.

I would still read the third book in the series because one least favorite book doesn't cancel my liking Albert's previous books. I just hope that the next one is better for me.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,765 reviews3,851 followers
April 24, 2015

If you're searching for a quick, easy, feel good read that's precisely what you'll find in Baked Fresh. This is book 2 of a series but can be read as a standalone. The cover is what initially drew me in along with the promise of baked goods and manlove and, boy, were those delivered in spades.

Baked Fresh is told through Vic, an Italian Stallion, pastry chef and former fatty. Vic had lapband, lost about 100 lbs but continues to struggle with his body image, but he's ready to hit the dating scene with his newly svelte and gym ratted self. He's been lusting after Robin for two years when opportunity strikes in the form of a painful breakup and Vic swoops in as the rebound guy hoping for more.

There is very little angst but also very little depth. It felt very superficial in that Vic only ever talks about how beautiful Robin is, they never have any conversations of substance when both of them have significant amounts of emotional baggage. Overall I found the writing to be simplistic and overly reliant on telling rather than showing usually with some sort of anthropomorphic bent which, frankly, made me hope Vic had his internist on speed dial. His innards might need a tune up what with all the churning, burning, clenching and gurgling. And, finally, the conflict seemed rather melodramatic in addition to lacking detail and depth.

The manlove was pretty hot, though. It even had a bit of kinky fuckery, though the "dominance" did come across a little stilted oftentimes. Still, the face fucking was a win. And the rimming.

If you want a quick little petit four sized treat, you'll likely enjoy Baked Fresh.

A review copy was provided by netGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bitchie.
1,464 reviews77 followers
September 4, 2016
ARC received from Netgalley.

I wanted to love this more than I did. I never really connected with either character, and a few things that happened just didn't ring true to me. I didn't understand how Vic went from so insecure, never having dated before, to knowing just what to do with Robin, and then back to totally insecure. I also thought the guys needed to talk more, because I don't think Robin ever really knew why Vic was so insecure.

It also felt like I missed a whole lot of backstory, that should have been explained somewhere. How/why did Robin end up on drugs, what caused him to get clean, what did Vic like so much about Robin, and I would have liked to have seen Vic and Robin meet and get to know each other, rather than coming into things quite a bit later, after they are already friends.

I'd probably read this author again, but hopefully, future books will have more detail in the getting to know you and communication parts of the story.
Profile Image for Ele.
1,274 reviews40 followers
May 2, 2015
*3.5 stars rounded up because I 've fallen in love with the author's writing*

Do you know what else I like besides coffee? CAKE! All kinds of cake. I can eat it instead of food and after reading this I feel like I gained 10 pounds.

What I liked the most in this book was how imperfect the characters were. Don't get me wrong, I love the occasional hunk with the six pack abs, but a dose of reality every now and then doesn't hurt.

For the most part of the story I liked Vic and Robin together. I felt the connection between them getting stronger and stronger. Towards the end though, Vic's insecurities, albeit understandable , became a bit tiresome. But what bothered me the most was how pushy he got. The guy is asking for some space man, back off a little bit.

And then the epilogue came....and it was so gorgeous I forgot all of the above!

I can't wait for the next addition to the series!

P.S To all those guys with a receding hairline : Shave your heads! No hair is better than little hair. Plus, it can be pretty hot.
Profile Image for Leta Blake.
Author 60 books1,479 followers
May 19, 2015
Got sucked in and was up until 3am finishing up! Really enjoyable read! Sexy, sweet, and would love more of these guys. Loved their dynamic.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
872 reviews7 followers
October 20, 2015
This book would have been a solid 3 stars, but I'm bumping it up because it had some seriously hot rimming scenes!!

I think while the book was rather sweet and fluffy, I wasn't expecting the darker themes of addiction and hopelessness therefore it didn't feel like a true light and fluffy, but wasn't angsty enough to be a heart wrenching recovery story. It kind of feel in the middle somewhere.

Loved Vic! He was a sweetheart and the story line was good, just fell a tad flat.
Profile Image for * N aka.
205 reviews13 followers
April 24, 2017
3.5 stars. I couldn't get into this one as much as book three. Maybe there's a disadvantage to working backward through the series!
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,890 followers
May 29, 2015
A few months ago, I read Served Hot by Annabeth Albert and truly enjoyed the quiet, romantic e-novella and its two protagonists. It was the first in her Portland Heat series, so when Baked Fresh came along, I expected the same easiness and lightness I enjoyed in the first installment. But compared to its predecessor, Baked Fresh is a much heavier read – a more memorable one, perhaps, but one that demands a significant emotional investment.

Fortunately for us, Albert gave us two truly realistic, remarkable characters. Vic just lost his young cousin to heart attack and he’s trying to reevaluate his priorities in life. He already lost considerable weight, but he’s still afraid to put himself out there and finally find someone to date. He has many insecurities and he doesn’t see himself very clearly, but if there’s one thing he wants for himself, it’s Robin, the guy from the LGBT teen shelter.

Robin just broke up with his boyfriend Paul and the last thing he needs is another relationship. He works at the shelter as a penance of sorts – not too long ago, the shelter saved him and gave him a new life. He sees Vic as a gentle giant, someone who makes him feel safe and who shows him kindness and patience.

I admired Albert’s characterization, especially for a novella. Both Vic and Robin were such clear characters, so detailed and human. Robin especially had some issues that were very difficult to overcome. I admire how they were done. They didn’t seem like something copied from a bullet point about abuse victims. They truly rang true and my heart felt every second of his pain.

As the more stable of the two, Vic had fewer problems, but his insecurities sometimes got the best of him. After his cousin’s death, he chose to have the gastric bypass surgery, but all the exercise and healthy eating in the world couldn’t help him with his self-image. Robin was very good for him from the start because he saw him as a hero, a mix between the Rock, Vin Diesel and Superman.

The third novella in this series is already out and I bought my copy yesterday. I wish these could be full-length novels, but even for a series of novellas, Albert continues to give us complete, complex stories. I can’t wait to read more.

Profile Image for Fani *loves angst*.
1,641 reviews237 followers
September 26, 2016
4.5 stars

I jumped too late in the bandwagon of Portland Heat, but so far I loved both books I read. Just the right amount of angst and sweetness I guess :) Can't wait to read the rest of the books, but this series is perfect for the beginning of fall here in Greece and make me dream of yummy sweets and flavored coffee!
Profile Image for Danielle  Gypsy Soul.
3,104 reviews71 followers
October 23, 2019
Had some things I enjoyed but also some things that came across a bit repetitive. I'm getting tired of reading the "friends with benefits" or "it's just sex" and then they don't want to admit it's more trope.
Profile Image for Gabis Laberladen.
992 reviews
April 24, 2020
4,5 Sterne, aufgerundet weil Annabeth Albert :-)

Darum geht's:

Vic und Robin arbeiten ehrenamtlich im Obdachlosenheim. Als der hübsche Robin von seinem Freund verlassen wird, traut sich Vic endlich, Robin näherzukommen. Weil Vic überzeugt ist, dass die beiden niemals in derselben Liga spielen werden, bietet er "ganz freundschaftlich und unverbindlich" seine Gesellschaft an. Dass Robin ernsthaft an Vic interessiert sein könnte, kann er sich nicht vorstellen.

Meine Meinung dazu gibt’s hier
Profile Image for namericanwordcat.
2,442 reviews408 followers
July 24, 2017
This is another great character driven romance with Annabeth Albert.

A wonderful love story about what it means to be in love with a person with a fully realized past. Both Vic and Robin carry a lot of their old selves into their romance.

Here we get a nice friends to lovers tale with the blending for two lives and taking risks to trust and love.

Very well written and engaging and as always with Albert the best parts of the book are in the details I don't want to give away.
Profile Image for Veronica of V's Reads.
1,528 reviews41 followers
February 16, 2015
4.5 stars for this contemporary M/M romance.

Vic is a 33 y/o baker who's had a lot of loss in his life. He is father, uncle and cousin all died young to heart disease, so Vic had gastric bypass surgery a year ago. Since then he's watched his diet, exercised and shed 110 pounds. He feels good, but his self-consciousness lingers. Vic does a lot of volunteer work helping to distribute day-olds from the bakery to a local homeless shelter, where he enjoys some repartee with Robin, a former shelter inhabitant who now volunteers there part-time. Vic's had his eye on Robin for a couple of years now, but never approached him, well, because Robin is a young, beautiful man. And Robin's also had a boyfriend...until recently.

In fact, Robin doesn't want another boyfriend. He's had a not-so-great past that included running away from home as a teen, doing drugs and turning tricks to survive. Sober for the past three years, he has difficulty with penetrative sex, and feels he's "damaged goods" anyway. That the beefy baker, Vic, has any interest in Robin is a bit mindblowing.

Vic proceeds slowly with Robin, trying to gain any part of his attention. They agree to a fling, no commitments--because this is what Robin can tolerate and Vic will take any scrap Robin with throw him, but it ends up being supremely tender. Vic wants, more than anything, to reveal his deep attraction to Robin, but he's afraid that will push Robin away, so he shows Robin in all the other ways how special he is. I really enjoyed watching these two build into a couple.

Robin is astounded at Vic's patience and consideration as a lover. But, real life exists. Robin's involvement at the shelter brings him into contact with kids who make the same choices he had. He feels as if not saving these kids, as Robin himself had been saved, is a personal failure, and it cuts deep. Vic wants to be there for Robin, but Robin's emotions are everywhere. There's a blow up, breakdown, and big love in this book. It's sexy and somber, and whimsical and tender, by turns. For a novella there's a whole lotta story, and enough sexytimes to remind us that dudes like it hot and ready.

I adore Vic and Robin, and wish they'd come over and redecorate my life! I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.
Profile Image for A.M. Arthur.
Author 79 books1,161 followers
December 22, 2015
I officially love this series and this author. She has such a fun way with words, carefully crafting a very believable first person POV that lets you get to know all of the characters who orbit him. God, I adore Vic and totally empathize. I've been that person who changes on the outside but still doesn't see what other people see, and it's not easy believing in someone else's love for you when you're the one who never gets loved.

I also adore how Portland is like another character, with a personality all its own.
Profile Image for BWT.
2,153 reviews217 followers
January 2, 2016
Sweets as cake, with lots of hot sexual antics.

A little bit of a buzz kill after a small misunderstanding towards the end, but quickly rectified.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,405 reviews1,852 followers
March 8, 2017
Holy cannoli. Not only did we venture into pastry, cakes & cookies territory (seriously, Albert, you're killing me with this foodie series) but we turned up the heat like whoa.

Again, we had a perfect blend of sweet and sad/angst, maybe a little extra dollop of the angst, but I love love loved the pairing here. Younger guy, slightly older dude. Completely different lifestyles and situations. And a guy who was once overweight and had to make lifestyle choices so as not to suffer from heart failure like some of his family has. I've seen the fat-girl-gets-thin situation play out in f/m stories but this was the first time I've seen it in an m/m and it was really nice to get that perspective for a male. It wasn't all bemoaning about his body and what it is despite the weight loss, it was just refreshing to see that.. well, men can be heavy and suffer from low self-esteem, too, y'know.

This pairing was so sweet and tender; the big gruff baker and the younger wounded hottie with intimacy issues. Watching Vic walk Robin through the physical side of their relationship, the successes and the.. not failures, but the struggles, were so so powerful and emotional. Did I mention the hotness. It was hot. However, I did find the reasoning behind Robin's blow-up at Vic, the reason for their separation, a little.. I don't know. I didn't like it. I was fine with the concept but feel a different catalyst would've sold me on it more, I guess.

Sweet, sexy and a little more sad than I expected. But I'm starting to get a feel for how these little mini-novels are going. Really loved the little cameo we had of Robby and David, too.

3.5 "I was too busy reading and forgot to bookmark even a single damn quotation/all the food talk put me in a diabetic coma" stars
Profile Image for Is.
597 reviews
March 20, 2015

If you have yet to finish a book whilst at a bus station I highly recommend it. There’s something satisfying about being so wrapped up in a book that the scorching hot is an afterthought. Well, until you feel it through your jeans and it’s starts burning in that itchy way the Miami sun has.

“He tasted sweet, like soda and everything else I wasn’t supposed to have—including him.”

Baked Fresh is read best served fresh out of the oven(published); that way you can enjoy all its flaky layers to get to the gooey center, and have it leave you full and satisfied. Until the next book that is.

Want to know what I love about books? That they’re always something fresh, new characters, new stories, new ways to relate to characters regardless of how different their lives are to mine.

Vic Degrassi has known loss in his life, and he turns that grief into trying to live better each day, to not have his life taken from him young. He’s recently had a lap-band surgery, lost a lot of weight, but one thing persists—the mindset of who he was before the surgery.

One thing he has confidence in, though, is sticking to his New Year’s resolutions, and this year is no different. Vic has had a crush on Robin Dawson since he first saw him working at the shelter, and with the help of a resolution, and the fact that Robin is newly single and on the rebound things might change.

I can’t begin to tell you how real this characters were for such a short novel. Vic has self-esteem issues, and it doesn’t matter that you lose 100 or 200 pounds, that you get muscles or abs, that doesn’t go away. Like when people hug me around my waist, even knowing that I have a flat stomach, no more “love handles” it still makes me flinch, makes me extremely uncomfortable and I can’t wait for that person to step away. For books to address such topics is amazing, and a perfect representation of those issues, because this might be an m/m read, but guys have anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia, too. Please, don’t take anyone’s issues lightly.

The way Annabeth Albert handled Robin’s problem was no short of amazing. I remember reading some books when something traumatic and life-scaring happened and it would get brushed off and cured with the power of “love.” Have issues with having sex, no problem have sex with the “love of your life” and you’re cured. WRONG. It doesn’t not work like that, and for authors and readers to expect that is horrible for the real people who have to fight each day to live.

Baked fresh had the perfect balance of two characters who had gone through a lot, and learning that you should never feel ashamed of yourself, to do things for yourself and to fight to keep living because life is beautiful and there are people who love you. People who will wait. It was a cute read, filled with many baked treats, and I liked the metaphors and comparisons to all the desserts, and honestly made me want a cake.

In all, I’d recommend it, but like I said if you have your own self-esteem issues, or with triggers best to not read it, just if it triggers certain feelings.

Do you like to read about heavy issues? (Sometimes reading other people’s reviews are hard)

**An advance reading copy was generously provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for iva.
154 reviews12 followers
September 3, 2017
After reading Served Hot, I was expecting something light and cute from Baked Fresh, but I was so wrong. This books deals with multiple heavy things - sobriety, eating issues, fear of getting hurt again, a sexual dysfunction, death… I was afraid it would trigger my own issues with food, but even though it was sometimes difficult to read about protagonist's relationship with his body, I managed to get through and mainly didn’t think about myself, so yay, maybe that chapter of my life is finally over. I still had to take breaks from reading and stare to space trying not to let it get to me, but I expected it to be far worse. And I really loved how the love interest didn’t even notice those issues, because it was such a no deal for him. Like, yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Pursuing a guy with a goal to have a relationship with him after he multiple times declares he’s taking a break from dating didn’t really seem like a healthy thing to me, but I guess sometimes it’s worth it to take this leap of faith. Because yeah, miracles happen. And chances are better if you’re a fictional character in gay romance by author who has a penchant for happy endings (because otherwise, it would make a shitty book, wouldn’t it).
There wasn’t that much sex, but those sex scenes were really detailed. I kinda expected something tamer than what I’d read in Out of Uniform and #gaymers, because… well, I thought that you get dirtier the more you write sex, but no. This was something. The scene involving a sex toy was far more detailed than anything I’ve read this summer - and I’ve read Santino Hassell. It was so erotic and sensual and I read it on the bus sitting across a nun and, well, I think now we know for sure that I’m going to hell. Also, the powerplay was like, so exciting, even though it was still pretty vanilla? And the dirty talk managed to be so affectionate??? How??? Like, it was this strange mix of dirty words and cute endearments and it worked so well! Albert is very talented woman with a dirty, dirty mind and I love her. The way the protagonist dealt with Robin’s issues regarding sex was the most kind, loving gesture ever (he bought him a sextoy. But the scene was really beautiful, swear to God). How they got through this was so sweet, it showed that it doesn’t matter how broken you think you are or what your ex told you, with the right person, it can feel right. I’m used to Albert writing sex mainly as fun, but this was nice too and it’s exciting to see how she can write things differently.
The final conflict, though… That just didn’t sit well with me. Like, yeah, I get that Robin was grieving and out of his mind and that’s probably why he said those things, but dude, you were the one who set the rules, so being mad at Vic for following them is, like, crazy? And the way Vic just went with it instead of either standing up for himself or rationalizing Robin’s behaviour was weird. But hey, they did resolve it in the end, and that’s what matters.
Homophobia in this book was yet again touched, but not explored, and Robby and David’s cameo was as heartwarming as always. Overall, it was a beautiful story of finding yourself, yet again carrying Albert’s favorite message that you should be always kind to yourself, put yourself first. I’m curious if other books in this series are going to be more like the first book, or this, or something completely different.
Profile Image for Didi.
1,535 reviews85 followers
February 14, 2015
3.75 stars

Well, I don't mean to compare this book with the first of the series Served Hot but it certainly had different feel, way different. Faster pace with a lot more - and I mean MORE - of smutty sex scene. Deep-throated (which was done full-throttle, I'm sure! :p), in-the-shower hand job, rimming 69-ed, beads, mild dom/sub, wherever - even in the back of bakery truck - you name it! It's probably 50:50 from the whole of the book although the actual shagging was much farther in the relationship. But hell, I loved it!

The story was about Vic Degrassi, a 33 year-old talented baker with built like a thug (Robin lovingly called him a love child of The Rock and Vin Diesel) and Robin, a 23 year-old freelance designer, gorgeous, with a lot of baggage - ex trick, recovered alcoholic, sex release... So, to summarize: age-gap, opposite appearance, personal issues which were hard to let go.

This was a sweet love story; I love the slow burn (Vic actually waited 2 years before daring himself to pursue Robin) and chemistry between the pair. Though his rather low self-esteem was something that often had me gritting my teeth. Robin too was a bit of drama queen in my opinion. These were the glitch in their blooming romance, but Thank Gods for no prolonged despair and misery - so worry not, this was pretty low-angst. Except for one obvious person - Robin's ex - most of the characters were lovable, main and supporting. And let's not forget the amount of cakes and food mentioned in this book. Ha!

It's safe to say Ms. Albert's writing style "clicked" with me and I'll be looking forward to the next installment of the series.

Note: ARC was kindly provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Cristina T..
192 reviews100 followers
June 5, 2015
I have to say, I'm really glad I stuck with this series, even after the first book fell flat for me. The second installment is a lot better, in my opinion. It's real, sweet, and a feel-good story all around.

You see, baked goods are my ultimate weakness! Sweet or salted, doesn't matter. Cakes, pastry (!!!), pies and tarts, bagels, rolls, etc. Just keep 'em away from me, haha.

So, of course I loved Vic, the Italian baker! He's far from your typical perfect MC with washboard abs and a face meant to be plastered on the front page of GQ Magazine. (To be perfectly clear, I'm not saying I don't like them!) Vic has insecurities, body image issues, and he thinks he's average, at best. He's a believer in New Year's resolutions, to which he sticks religiously. His new resolution is to find a boyfriend. Any boyfriend. Or is it? He might have one specific man in mind.

Robin works at the shelter as a volunteer, and he's a freelance graphic designer. He's also an addict (recovering), and has been homeless and without a shred of hope in the past. Robin is young and guilt-ridden, and all he needs is a man to take over the reins every now and then (in the bedroom), and someone who truly cares for him. Ergo, the big and cuddly Vic fits him like a glove.

I devoured the sex scenes! Bossy Vic + insecure Robin + one of my favorite kinks + trust and emotion = I'm one happy kitten!

[Just because. Cute kitty is cute. ♥]

Oh, and beautiful, beautiful epilogue! Turned me into a puddle of goo. Recommended!
Profile Image for Diana.
534 reviews18 followers
April 22, 2015
Vic Degrassi does a great job at following through with his New Year’s resolution. So far he completed culinary school, quit smoking and lost over 100 lbs. This year’s resolution is to start dating, which is a big jump since he has never had a relationship before. But he is lonely after the death of his father, uncle and cousin and decides to give it a try, and he already has someone in mind.
Robin Dawson is having a crappy week. His jerk of a boyfriend broke up with him and he has decided not to get involved in another relationship. When Vic approaches him at the mission they both volunteer at, he jumps at the chance to go to a hockey game “as friends”. They begin spending more and more time together “as friends”. Emotions start to get involved and the walls they have each built to protect themselves, start to crumble. When tragedy happens at the mission, they each struggle to cope, together.
I absolutely adored this couple. Vic has some self- confidence issues which Robin helps him through and even pushes him a little. Robin also has some issues of his own. He is in recovery and also has some intimacy issues, which they cope with. I loved how sweet Victor is, but when they are in bed, his bossiness comes out. Whew!!!
This book was a cute, low angst read and I would definitely read more from Annabeth Albert.
I was provided a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Keveen.
136 reviews8 followers
July 15, 2015

Anyway, this was such a sweet read. And ever since I read Dani's review, I couldn't stop imagining Vic looking like Vin Diesel. I knew he was compared as a lovechild of Vin Diesel and The Rock but yeah, I couldn't stop imagining him as Vic fucking Robbin.

I thought the progress of their relationship was really good. It was believable. Plus, the chemistry and sexual tension was there. The first half of the book was pretty uninteresting but when the second half started it was really good. The story, the plot and all the characters were really good. Even the ex-boyfriend of Robin, Paul, was okay although he wasn't really much of a round character. Robin and Vic both had issues to work on but what they didn't expect was that together, they could overcome those issues.

But can we talk about the sex? Oh god, it was so fucking hot. Like seriously.

Yep. That was my reaction to every sex scene. It was so hot but so sweet at the same time. Vic was made to be a bossy top let's be real.

I was also glad to see the first couple from the series because I liked them too! I knew it was a long stretch for them to appear but it worked!

Overall, this was a short but satisfying treat.
Profile Image for Tamika♥RBF MOOD♥.
1,224 reviews142 followers
March 12, 2015
4 solid stars

So I ended up requesting this from Netgalley just because it looked good. I wasn't wrong I didn't even know it was no. 2 in a series. You don't need to read them in orders. I would because I truly liked the writing that this author brought to the table. She was a first for me, and it was so freaking good. I love her characters. This was one of the realest mm books I've ever read. She decided to step out of the box and write an overweight character who has weight loss surgery. I don't know about ya'll but it's only so many more times I can put up with twinks and perfect bodies. I love that she decided to go this route. She didn't just say he was dealing with this, she showed his struggle which I really appreciated. I wish this was longer because I really liked both guys alot. I'll definitely be on the look out for the next in the series and more from this author.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Reader S..
307 reviews13 followers
July 30, 2016
So, so very important. Love between a former drug addict and a former food addict. Body issues. Sex problems. Not being rich and having to wear old pyjama bottoms to be able to buy other clothes. Normal life, guys, normal life. Only: so very good, because Vic made it good.
Profile Image for Naomi.
270 reviews22 followers
April 22, 2017
3.5 stars. I liked this more than the last one. I liked Vic.
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