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…
- Coffee. In book one, SERVED HOT, Robby is a barista with his own coffee card and David is his favorite customer. In all three books, the heroes end up at The People’s Cup, a fictional coffee shop on Alberta Street in Portland. Part of the fun for me was deciding what each hero would order!
- Brunch. In both SERVED HOT and BAKED FRESH, the heroes start a weekly brunch habit. Brunch is a big thing in Portland—very much a part of our unique food culture. People’s Cup’s weekly vegan brunch buffet epitomizes that culture, and in book three, DELIVERED FAST, the coffee shop owner gets his own happy ending!
- Rain. Everyone always thinks about the weather when talking about Portland and Seattle, but our relatively mild climate means that the heroes aren’t stuck shoveling snow when they could be cuddling, and the gorgeous spring colors feature into all three books.
- The power of shared meals. Coffee, brunch, and shared meals run throughout the series. I like characters who take care of each other and nurture each other as their relationship progresses. Robby and David make soup in SERVED HOT, and Vic makes Robin several meals and snacks in BAKED FRESH. One of my favorite scenes is when Vic brings Robin a cupcake at the homeless shelter where they both volunteer.
- Quirky Heroes. With this series, I really wanted to capture the wide variety of Portland Residents—the trust fund babies like Robin, the working class multi-generation neighborhood dwellers like Vic, the hardworking food service professionals like Robby, the plaid, beard, and tattoo sporting chef like Chris in DELIVERED FAST. I wanted to show the range of looks, style, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, and background that make up the gorgeous melting pot of Portland.
★ Baked Fresh ~ Excerpt ★
From Chapter One of Baked Fresh
“So, what’s your plan this year?” Cliff asked as we unloaded pallets of food for Victory Mission. The stinging December wind whipped through the loading dock, howling against the concrete walls. I had to strain to hear Cliff’s booming voice. “Sky diving? Marathon? How you gonna top last year, Vic?”
“Dunno.” I hefted a box of tomato sauce cans. That’s what everyone wanted to know—how I was going to top last year’s resolution to lose a hundred pounds. Truth was, I was pretty good at resolutions. Four years ago, I’d resolved to go to culinary school. Three years ago, I gave up smoking. And last year I lost 111 pounds. But this year I had a smaller, simpler goal in mind.
“Thought I might try dating.”
“Dating? As in a boyfriend?” Cliff snorted, a dry sound that echoed off the metal loading bay doors. “I’d go with a marathon.”
My stomach churned as I grabbed another box of rolls. I had my own doubts. I was hardly a prize catch. I hadn’t dated anyone in the four years I’d been working for Cliff. Never had a boyfriend beyond the rare three-peat hookup. ’Course, Cliff didn’t know about my hookups, but I hadn’t even had one of those in eight long months. Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t realized what I was missing. Ever since then, this weird, restless longing had plagued me. New Year’s was the perfect excuse to do something about it. Get out there.
“You guys done out here? Whole stack of boxes waiting inside. We don’t have all day.” Robin bustled out onto the dock, bringing a shit-ton of bad mood with him. A far cry from the sunny, talkative guy who made me think crazy thoughts, like that maybe dating wasn’t a terrible idea. He was gone before either Cliff or I could reply.
“What’s up with him?” I asked Cliff once I heard the pantry door shut inside.
“Melissa said Paul broke up with him.” Cliff always found the gossip. The food bank volunteers were like bored high schoolers, passing rumors around their shifts like joints at a party.
“Finally.” I didn’t realize I’d said the word aloud until Cliff laughed.
“Aha! On second thought, I highly approve of your resolution. I’m gonna have to get a bet going with Trish about whether or not you can land your man. Talk about aiming high though, kid.”
“Didn’t say anything about dating Robin,” I mumbled into a sack of rice. The last time Robin was single, I had spent months thinking about him. Wondering if he was out of my league. Knowing he was out of my league but trying to work up the courage to ask him out anyway. Coming to volunteer more often just to be around him. Then Paul swooped in like a star pitcher and sent me back to the minor leagues, where I belonged.
I readjusted my grip on the sack so I wouldn’t accidentally tear the darn thing in two. No, I wasn’t stupid enough to make a resolution to date Robin. I just wanted to get out there. Give myself a chance to maybe meet a nice guy who wouldn’t care about my food issues and my loose skin and my bald-by-choice look.
But now that Cliff had planted the dating-Robin idea in my brain, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Which irked the hell out of me. I’d worked hard to deep-six my crush on him. Finding out he was single was a stupid reason to unearth it. Robin was the nice guy of my fantasies. And fucking gorgeous. He was sex walking around in KEENs and hipster T-shirts. He was everything I wanted and everything I wasn’t ever going to have.
Once Vic resolves to be Robin’s rebound guy, can he convince Robin that they’re meant to be? Find out in BAKED FRESH!
★ Giveaway ★