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…
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Pretty much the perfect romance novel
When I picked up the first book in this series, I figured I was taking a chance. I don't have a problem with M/M romance, and I've actually read some pretty graphic stuff that was great, but so often what I find in this genre are covers that scream of sex and deliver very little romance. So the Portland Heat series has been an incredible find, and just like the last two books I loved in this series, Delivered Fast serves up realistic characters, genuine emotion, and intense but believable romance.
Chris owns a cool coffee shop slash restaurant, and his life tends to revolve around the success of his business. A failed long-term romance has soured him on dating and kept him away from even the most casual of encounters. But a delectable new delivery guy has him taking notice, even if he's not sure about acting on his attraction. The guy's definitely younger than him — probably too young — and even though Chris is pretty sure Lance is flirting with him, he's not sure what to make of it. He can't really hide his attraction, though, and he finds himself agreeing to a casual relationship — no expectations and no strings attached.
Lance is not as hesitant to put himself out there, and while he agrees to casual, it soon becomes clear that there's nothing casual about his intentions. Their budding romance is a study in patience, as Lance has to work to get Chris to let down his guard and let his heart show, but Chris doesn't really stand a chance when Lance turns on the charm. Lance was sweet and understanding and patient, and there's just no way Chris couldn't fall for him.
Their age difference was just over a decade, something Chris couldn't seem to get past, but what it really came down to was trust. It seemed like he used age as an excuse, a way to protect himself from believing in Lance and then having his heart broken, so that definitely took some time to work through. And who could blame him, really? Anyone that much older than his significant other would be at least subconsciously waiting for the younger, hotter partner to grow bored or disillusioned or simply find someone more his speed. But Lance's gentle determination just made their happily ever after that much sweeter.
Like the two in the series that came before it, Delivered Fast is pretty much the perfect romance novel. Characters aren't perfect, but their hearts are big, and it's just impossible not to relate to the insecurities and dreams they have. I know I've said it before, but this is one M/M romance series that every romance junkie should be reading.
***FicCentral received this book from for free in exchange for an honest review.
low stress and low drama (for the most part) and gives a nice sense of the Portland foodie scene
The third I have read in this light and enjoyable M/M romance series based in Portland, this was my favorite of the three titles. Mainly because I liked the characters more, and could, despite some repetition of similes and angst, find some empathy in their situation.
First for the characters: Chris is a little older and more seasoned, co-owner of a restaurant with his ex, he’s not been on the ‘circuit’ for a while. That doesn’t have him a monk, or immune to the cutie that is Lance, the bakery delivery boy with a body to die for and a seeming interest in him.
But Lance is young and could find more excitement and enjoyment with people his own age. Chris is scared, the last relationship wasn’t great and he continues to sabotage this one, deliberately and not, because of that fear. And who hasn’t been there after a breakup? But Lance, perhaps because he is young, is oh so patient and willing to take the crumbs that Chris throws in hopes for more.
It was a sweetly growing story with some stupid mistakes from Chris and no groveling (there should have been groveling) from him. Lance is adorable and positive, with a bit of the happy puppy air about him, perhaps this, in part, explains the frequent use of galloping. In fact, a search for overuse of particular words and a few less similes would have helped. Yes, I get it – this is essentially a foodie romance story, so food references are logical to expect, but sometimes they just feel forced.
A series that is low stress and low drama (for the most part) and gives a nice sense of the Portland foodie scene and some of the men who meet and love there, Annabeth Albert has created a lovely mainstream M/M Romance series for those who enjoy the genre, or are just testing the water with same sex relationships.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Flowed Smoothly, but Felt Thin. Score: 4.3
Judging a Book by it's Cover:
I'm undecided on the cover. I've liked the torso shots from the previous installments to the series, so this unclothed close-up seems unnecessary to me. The synopsis was, honestly, not important to me, I was looking forward to reading Lance's story.
First Person POV from Chris's perspective. Chris has been solo and celibate since breaking off a not-great relationship with his ex-, who also unfortunately is half-owner of the coffee shop he runs. Lance is a vibrant and intelligent young man, preparing to start graduate school in the fall after his current semester of college is over. Lance has his eye on Chris and although Chris is mutually attracted, he fights it because of their age difference and how it reminds him of the damaging relationship he had with Randy.
In many ways, Lance came off more mature than Chris, maybe because of the support network Lance had and/or the lack of for Chris. Both characters were well-written, but I think I liked Lance's vitality over Chris's curmudgeonly ways. The secondary characters were just enough to add a little fun to the mix. Dialogue was great, the interactions were good. Most felt natural and believable. The plot was good, but it felt a little thin, like something was missing. The previous stories seemed fuller, but always, the flow of writing was smooth as melting butter on a biscuit. The conflict was resolved in a great way, not rushed or belittled. I did predict the outcome, but that did not detract from the story and the conclusion was fantastic. I hope there will be more books in this series. Although this novella can easily stand on it's own, Lance's cousin Vic is mentioned often and plays a few cameos. He's one part of book 2's couple, so I'd recommend starting the series from the beginning, because even Robby (book 1) is given a quick nod in here.
Heat Level: 4.25