Books

Book 618: Served Hot (Portland Heat #1) – Annabeth Albert

After I finished reading The Book on Rental Property Investing, I knew I wanted to read something lighter and more fun before I jumped into another nonfiction work. That story is a tangent so skip to the end if you want to read about how I ended up on this series (damn overly available libraries :-D).

Now, as I’m writing this six days after I read this and four books into the series, I have a feeling this summer is going to be full of smutty romance novels. I’d apologize in advance, but I’m not sharing the sexy bits (mostly) and well we all need a mental break sometimes. Plus, they’re just so quick and entertaining!

Served Hot is book one in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series. It’s the story of coffee cart owner/barista Robby and nonprofit finance executive David. It’s steamy and quirky and I couldn’t help but laugh and plug various friends (and myself) into the characters at any number of times because these two were so adork-able they may as well have been my friends. Their meet-cute is just so adorable when Robby figures out that David’s been going past 3-4 other coffee shops for weeks/months just to order a coffee from him. To. Die. For.

This is skipping ahead and I know I’ll mention it in every response, but I think more than anything, I’ve really enjoyed Albert’s diversity of characters in her books, it’s not as social warrior as some of Wendy Qualls books in Heart of the South (Worth Searching For and Worth Fighting For), but it’s still there. Robby is half-Asian and it comes up passingly a few times, but there’s no racial fetishism. David has spent the last few years dealing with the early death of his “partner” and that trope definitely exists in romance novels, but it’s one I haven’t read too frequently.

And something HAS to be said about Albert’s humor. There are times, usually inappropriate times, that if I were drinking anything I’d seriously be in spit-take territory. Some aren’t as hilarious as others, but the third one below had me giggling and trying to figure out how to work it into a conversation at some point.

“David moved at such a glacial pace that he seemed almost indifferent to sex. Me, though? I was going nuts. My palms sweat, my dick hurt, and my brain played a never-ending loop of porno-riffic possibilities.” (Loc. 403)

“There were a few things in life I knew I was good at: pulling espresso shots, making pancakes, packing for a road trip, and giving head.” (Loc. 579)

“I’d come prepared. Hope and hard-up dick sprang eternal.” (Loc. 687)

Seriously, those last two got me. It’s like a normal conversation and then boom an inappropriate/perfectly appropriate dick reference. At the very least you have to smile (even if it’s just uncomfortably). This one, less so than some of the others, I was able to read on the train with out blushing too much.

I think for all the others I’ve highlighted a quote/text when the next book’s characters were introduced/referenced and I got them all right so far except this one. I can’t remember when the characters in Baked Fresh were mentioned.

Recommendation: I found this incredibly delightful. Albert’s writing is easy to read and engaging. Her characters are believable (in a romance sort of hyper-focused getting down to the business of falling in love and into each others arms kind of way) and she writes sex scenes that aren’t too over the top and when she says her characters want to do something they do it (unlike some authors who have their characters toy with an idea and then it just disappears never to come back again).

Opening Line: “My nooner was late. Well, technically, David was my 11:50.”

Closing Line: “And I can say now with absolute certainty that hope does come in a paper cup and smells an awful lot like a vanilla latte to go.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Other Books in the Portland Heat Series

  • Baked Fresh
  • Delivered Fast
  • Knit Tight
  • Wrapped Together
  • Danced Close

Additional Quotes from Served Hot
“Not that making out was likely to happen. I could count on one hand with fingers left over the number of times I’d gotten laid in the last year. Purchasing my cart, recovering from Brian, and my general awkwardness with the dating and hookup scene kept my bed cold and my wrist sore.” (Loc. 147)

“His green polo shirt and khaki pants with a canvas belt and loafers made me think of fancy boat parties. And of things people could get up to on boats.” (Loc. 164)

“The way he kissed was the way he walked and spoke and ate—earnestly, and with a single-minded focus. This was why I was attracted to him—there was a quiet desperation lurking behind his calm façade, a sense that when he did a task, he did it well. Like Ohmyfuckinggawwwwwwwwwwd well. My spine lit up like a pinball game, electricity zooming everywhere and David earning all sorts of bonus points with his strong hand massaging the back of my neck, anchoring me.” (Loc 277)

“He was instinctively toppy without any of the asshole side effects that often came with it.” (Loc. 922)

“But I was the coward who couldn’t even tell him I loved him as we hung up, and he was so used to being alone, I wasn’t sure there would ever be room for me in his heart.” (Loc. 1,035)

“My preferences seemed irrelevant and speaking up led to awkward conversations and magnified the hurt. Keeping pain private kept the wounds smaller, helped me buck up and move on. And maybe that was part of it; it seemed inevitable that David would hurt me too. Why speak up and make it hurt that much worse?” (Loc. 1080)

“This was why I’d wanted to keep silent. Because before I’d had faith, even if it was foolish and unwarranted, and now I had nothing.” (Loc. 1119)

How I ended up reading this series randomly:
I began looking at digital gay romance books from my local library on Overdrive, because of course I shouldn’t read one of the 300 books I already own—face meet palm. As I was scrolling I came across Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert. I got excited because 1) looking for an easy book, 2) gay romance, 3) knitting, and 4) Portland based (where we’re going this month); ding ding ding we have a winner. I hadn’t planned to download a book, but COME ON it was too perfect not to. I found out very quickly, Knit Tight is book four in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series.

So rather than being a sane individual and just moving on or reading something I owned, a quick search showed me ALL of these were available so 5 minutes later I had 6 light gay romance novels to read as I prepare for my trip to Portland. Let’s be real they won’t make it until Portland (it’s 2 days before we fly and I only have 1.5 left to go. Bonus that I found a new fun LGBT Romance author. YESSSSS. BWHAHAAHAHAA. Good thing I have another series in the queue I can read 🙂

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