Saturday, January 17, 2015

ARC Review: Served Hot (Portland Heat 1) by Annabeth Albert

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?

Dani's rating:

This is a gentle, cozy story about two 20-something-year-old guys meeting, becoming friends, and falling in love.

Robby is a barista with hipster glasses who runs his own coffee cart business, while David is a financial manager for a nonprofit. David comes by for a coffee at 11:50 a.m. every day, and he always orders the same thing: a vanilla latte.

Told in Robby's first-person POV, the story spans the course of a year as shy, awkward Robby finally gets the guts to put the moves on David. Or is David the one who puts the moves on Robby?

They sure do dance around each other, and it's cute as hell.

David, who was in a closeted relationship for more than a decade, is still grieving the loss of his partner, and Robby's not very good at standing up for what he wants.

I like how REAL this story is. These guys have normal jobs. They aren't rich or ridiculously good-looking. Robby is Asian, which is totes awesome (more Asian men in M/M, PLEASE!). They talk about ordinary things, like money and Robby's roommates and food and David's family.

Even though David is withdrawn and doesn't always treat Robby fairly, he does eventually open up to Robby. I'm glad that easygoing Robby finally voiced his concerns. We see him grow as a person.

What drew me to this book is Annabeth Albert's short story published in the Campus Cravings Higher Learning MM Boxed Set anthology. It was endearing and so damn adorable, I wanted to read something else by her.

And I'm happy I did. The writing here is polished and engaging. The story is moderately steamy, and Robby and David's first time together is sexy and lovely.

I just wish that the "big moments" hadn't happened off page. The story skips forward a lot, and events are summarized in a few sentences. We find out that David met Robby's parents, for example, but we never see it.

Robby goes with David to visit David's large conservative family in Idaho, but the story cuts off right when the men arrive. This was frustrating, as it made the narrative less accessible.

Also, be warned that the story ends at 90 percent, so it cuts off a little unexpectedly. Not that there isn't closure and a fairly nice HEA, but it was more abrupt than I prefer.

Bonus points for a Portland setting, because Portland is one of the coolest cities in America. Obviously.

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An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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