Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.
Portland as a Romance Mecca?
When I first came up with the idea of Served Hot, I knew I wanted to set it in Portland, Oregon, but I worried that readers might not respond to the setting. Small town romance and big city dramas are both really popular, but I wanted to showcase my region of the country and the particular flavors and culture that make this place special. My favorite books as a reader are the ones that transport me to a new place, whether fictional or real, and I wanted to try to bring that to my Portland Heat series. The whole series really ended up being a love letter to everything I love about this city. It simply couldn’t take place anywhere else.
A chance outing to Alberta Street for some Salt & Straw ice cream gave me the plot bunny for the coffee shop that anchors my series—The People’s Cup is the fictional home of the Sunday brunch that becomes a fixture in Robby and David’s relationship and this neighborhood’s quirky vibe was exactly what I wanted to capture in my series. (The coffee shop owner meets his match in book 3, Delivered Fast!) As Robby and David navigate the path to a happily-ever-after, they get to visit some of my favorite places in the city including our unique obsession with the local soccer team and Portland Pride.
Robby’s coffee cart is in the heart of the business district in Portland, home to some fabulous older buildings and an eclectic mix start-up companies, laid back regional businesses, and blue chip staples like insurance firms and banks. Robby loves his diverse clientele—the CEOs in cargo pants mingling with the young lawyers in suits. Robby’s regular customers are very typical of the coffee and food cart scene in Portland. People take their daily fix seriously here! He knows the drink orders of all his regulars, but he has a lot of fun coming with the daily specials as well. His favorite customer, David, always gets a vanilla latte, but maybe that’s about to change…
In the comments, I’d love to hear about your cities and what spots are perfect for a first date!
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?
Check out the Portland Heat series:
My nooner was late. Well, technically, David was my 11:50. Without fail, ten minutes before twelve every work day, David P. Gregory bought a vanilla latte from my coffee cart in the Old Emerson building in Portland. I only knew his name because he used his debit card to pay, and I knew the time because of the old-fashioned, massive brass clock directly across the atrium from my cart.
I knew David banked at a local credit union, knew that he worked somewhere that required a tie, knew that he had a smile that made his mouth crinkle up at the edges when I handed him his coffee, and knew that he was an excellent tipper.
What I didn’t know was whether or not he was straight. We’d had this weird dance for months now—he’d arrive for his coffee, stilted and uncomfortable, relax into a bit of small talk while I made his drink, and then he’d take his coffee to one of the metal tables out in the atrium to have with the lunch he packed in a blue bag. I liked watching him eat because he gave it his entire focus—no smart phone or gadget, no newspaper or book, no folder of work. A few times I’d caught him looking back in my direction. But his gaze never lingered and either my flirting while I served him was more subtle than I’d thought or he was simply immune.
Today David was late. Unexpected disappointment uncurled in my stomach, souring my caffeine buzz. It was a good day—a steady stream of customers at my cart and bustling business for the pizza place and the vegan sandwich bar on the other side of the atrium. The hundred-year-old office building had been renovated to include a few small eateries in the newly added skylit atrium. Plenty for me to look at, but my eyes kept returning to the double brass doors that opened onto Ninth.
David pushed through the heavy doors at 12:45 just as I was finishing up a caramel soy latte for one of the Goth girls who worked at the jewelry place across the street. I hid my smile behind my espresso machine. Eager for it to be his turn, I tapped my toes against the linoleum.
“The usual?” I figured it would freak him out if I mentioned I’d noticed his lateness.
“Hmmm.” He studied my specials sign. I’d glued a chalkboard panel inside a silver frame from a secondhand place on Hawthorne and put the whole thing on a silver-painted easel. Classy on the cheap.
Today I had a half-price tuxedo mocha—white chocolate with dark chocolate swirls. David had never paid any attention to the sign before, but today he gave it a long stare, consideration tugging his mouth back and forth. God, I loved his mouth—full pink lips, a hint of stubble on his upper lip like he’d missed a spot shaving.
After a few seconds, he shrugged, broad shoulders rippling the fine cotton of his dress shirt. “Yeah. The usual.”
“Sure thing.” I grabbed the cup for his small vanilla latte.
“Wait.” He held up a hand as I started to ring him up. “Iced. It’s sweltering out.” He’d rolled up the sleeves of his crisp white shirt, revealing muscular forearms and a heavy silver, antique-looking watch.
“Meaning it’s eighty-five degrees in Portland and everyone is freaking out. You know . . . it’s good to try something different once in a while.”
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Special thanks to Annabeth Albert & Tasty Book Tours for sponsoring this tour-wide giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway