Bundled Up (Portland Heat #1-3)

Bundled up
Title: Bundled Up (Portland Heat #1-3)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 345
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

All three of The Portland Heat Novellas together for the first time!

Served Hot

In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?

Baked Fresh

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…

Delivered Fast

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…

This novella collection is very aptly named –it’s a bundle of joy! Not that it’s all heart and flowers, but the angst is kept at a reasonable volume and the happy feelings ooze out of every story. What I have come to love about this author is the wonderful combination of good quality writing with simple plots that allow for character development. If you enjoy slice of life type of stories, without mysteries or other subplots that take away from the romance, this is for you.

In the first book, Served Hot, Robby is crushing on the uptight library accountant who buys coffee from Robby’s coffee cart every day. The romance builds slowly because David is grieving and dealing with coming out as well. I feel like the first book in the series served as a set of training wheels for the author. It’s good, but not great. The romance is sweet but doesn’t blow your mind. The plot is not boring, but it didn’t keep me from putting the book down either. And yet, the writing is great, the emotions felt real, and the characters truly connected on a deep level.

By the time we got to the second book, Baked Fresh, I started seeing how talented this author truly is. The story explores themes of self-esteem and trust very beautifully, with Vic having lost a lot of weight due to family health concerns. Vic is a happy baker who is honestly just looking for someone to love him. He meets Robin at a shelter where they both volunteer and things take off from there. Robin has dealt with drug abuse in the past and is very sensitive towards the teens that show up at the shelter. Vic and Robin made for an amazing couple. They define friends-to-lovers. Annabeth Albert rocks the authentic dialogue in her novels like nobody’s business. I love me some good prose, but I’d take pages and pages filled with dialogue any day of the week. And she nails it!

Delivered fast is not only my favourite book of the series, but one of my favourite mm books of all time. As I said before, there are no subplots, no whodunnits, no backstory drama, nada, nyet, nothing. Just two guys falling in love and making a relationship happen. Chris owns an organic goods coffee shop and Lance is the twink that is hitting on him big time. Everything I’ve already mentioned about the first two books holds here and is magnified tenfold. I highlighted so many lines of inner monologue from Chris in his futile attempts to stay away from Lance. I could read a story like this over and over and over without EVER being bored. Not to mention, this book is hotter than the first two, the dirty talk has reached higher levels than ever, and we even get a bit of kink in there as well.

Just. Awesome.

Highly recommend this series to all mm fans.

Portland Heat Series

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Bundled Up provided by Annabeth Albert in exchange of an honest review.