Their Lives Became KNIT TIGHT–Review and Giveaway!

Knit Tight Blog Tour BannerHi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review for a brand new book in the Portland Heat contemporary M/M romance series from Annabeth Albert. I’ve really enjoyed other books in the series, including SERVED HOT, BAKED FRESH and DELIVERED FAST, so I jumped at the chance to review this one. KNIT TIGHT features an overburdened bisexual barista and the fussy knitter from whom he can’t tear himself away.

Check out the excerpt and be sure to enter the giveaway for a $20 gift card below.

Knit TightAbout the book:
It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon, has some of best restaurants, shops, and cafés in the country. But it’s the hard-working men who serve it all up that keep us coming back for more…

One of Portland’s hottest young baristas, Brady is famous for his java-topping flair, turning a regular cup of joe into a work of art. Every Wednesday—aka “Knit Night”—hordes of women and their needles descend on the coffeehouse, and Brady’s feeling the heat. Into the fray walks a tall, dark, and distractingly handsome stranger from New York. His name is Evren, and he’s the sexy nephew of Brady’s sweetest customer, the owner of the yarn shop down the street. He’s also got a killer smile, confident air, and masculine charm that’s tying Brady’s stomach in knots.

The smitten barista can’t wait to see him at the next week’s gathering. But when he tries to ask Evren out, his plans unravel faster than an unfinished edge. If Brady hopes to warm up more than Evren’s coffee, he’ll have to find a way to untangle their feelings, get out of the friend zone, and form a close-knit bond that’s bound to last a lifetime…

How about a delicious taste?

The People’s Cup wasn’t huge by any means, and Knit Night tended to fill the joint up. The space was longer than it was wide, with couches in front of the plateglass window, the coffee bar running along one wall, tables in the middle of the room, and a long wooden farmhouse bench and table for communal seating in the back of the room. The Knit Night ladies liked to turn the couches around and group the center tables together, creating a setup conducive to conversation but a tripping hazard for the rest of the patrons. And the arrangement resulted in an unholy din really, especially on nights when their ranks swelled to thirty or more.

“Remember to keep the aisle clear,” I said to Violet and her minions. I’d warned them about creating tripping hazards with their knitting gear, but it was as futile as telling the twins and Jonas to keep their Legos in one area. Like my siblings, the ladies loved to spread out their projects.

“What’ll it be?” I swung back to the register, no closer to having the right banter for the stranger, but no longer in a position to care. However, he’d stepped aside for Violet and her herbal tea order.

“I’ll be back when the line clears,” he said with a wink. He had a leather messenger bag, the sort meant to look like something Indiana Jones would haul around, for which one paid for every crinkle in the distressed finish. He’d probably come in wanting a quiet place to work.

He had the look and accent of a displaced New Yorker—working some cushy freelance job, no doubt. I liked thinking up little stories about my customers, but I didn’t bother coming up with a lengthy one for him. He wouldn’t be back once he saw how loud Knit Night got. And the ladies were likely to pester him about his intricately knit scarf with its pattern of interwoven cables. One time, I’d made the mistake of wearing a wool beanie I’d found for a buck at the thrift store. Every single knitter needed to remark on its construction. Dude was so going to be beating feet once Knit Night got underway.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in the Portland Heat series and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Brady is a bisexual barista who’s working hard to support his four younger siblings in the wake of the death of his mother and step-father. He’s stressed and barely coping when the Knit Night crowd arrives at his cafe in Portland. A beautiful man, Evren, shows up. Turns out Evren’s the nephew of Mira–the knitting store owner, and he’s gay. And he’s got a bi prejudice. His last two boyfriends were either cheaters or left him for a woman.

Brady’s frustrated, but still intrigued as Evren shows up every week, caring for Mira who’s dying of pancreatic cancer. They begin a friendship, which ends up leading to more, but a highly regualted more as Evren’s got some astounding hangups about messy, penetrative sex.

The book spans a few months time, during which Evren and Brady come to lean on each other in their mutual grief. Brady’s chaotic life is further frustrated by his adult sister who doesn’t want to be a surrogate mom, while Mira’s truly dying and Evren can’t cope.

I liked the tiny vignettes from Evren’s knitting blog. It showed the vulnerability that he didn’t want to reveal to Brady. I loved Brady. He’s a selfless guy who doesn’t know how to ask for help. The meshing of their families was really special, for me. Plus, I’m a bit of a sucker for handicrafts and Evren lavishes Brady with plenty of knit socks to keep his feet toasty. (Wondering if Evren’s next book will feature ball cozies…)

There are a little bit of sexytimes with some low-level dominance kink at play. I liked how Brady stood up for his needs, as Evren’s kind of aloof, and he also didn’t let Evren discount him for his bisexuality. The book has some serious down moments, due to Evren’s struggle with Mira and her illness, who is the mother he got when his own family disowned him as a teen. They are a special family, and addition of Brady’s motley crew was rather charming to me. I like when characters have real life issues that impair their ability to connect, and do so anyway.

interested? You can find KNIT TIGHT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Google Play. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $20 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks (winner’s choice!)
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
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 children. Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Loving all the Portland Heat!

Hi there! I’m sharing some love for a series of novellas that have been steadily filling up my “read books” list. The Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert is a contemporary M/M romance series featuring men, from all different backgrounds and stations in life, finding real love. The books all center on working men, who own or manage artisan-style cafes, you know those staples of foodie goodness. And I find the stories to be just as delicious.

About the series:
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…

Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1)About Served Hot:
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?

My Review:
Robby is a biracial Korean-American out gay man in Portland. He owns his own coffee cart and works very hard to support himself. He has a bit of a crush on one of his regulars, David (vanilla latte at 11:50 precisely).

David’s a tall, well-built man, a bookish sort, and Robby would love to make a move, but Robby’s not that sort. He’s also rather shy, and can’t get a definite read on David. It seems he’s got a curious eye on Robby, but is he gay? Robby’s very nervous, but finally makes a move, discussing the upcoming Pride festival. David’s non-committal, but surprises Robby there–revealing his attraction, and overwhelming grief.

Turns out, David had been in a long-term closeted relationship for years, until his partner died–inadvertently “outing” both David and himself in their rural Idaho community. David’s never had a true boyfriend–he and his lover never lived together, never went out as a couple, and experiencing the gay scene in Portland is a serious culture shock.

Robby had been with a closeted man before, and he doesn’t relish repeating the experience. David is out, but very quiet, very tentative, and still seeking grief counseling for his partner’s loss. Robby wants a real relationship, but it seems David is so used to being a filthy secret, he has no skills at being with an out man. Robby’s patience is long, and he really has to dig out his courage and force himself to be a more assertive partner.

It’s an excellent slow burn, with Robby and David having fits and starts, and exploring their relationship both physically and through conversation. There’s a bit of steam, but the focus is always on the relationship. These two are a good couple, and I enjoyed their sweet and tender story.

Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)About Baked Fresh:
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…

My Review:
Vic is a 33 y/o baker who’s had a lot of loss in his life. He is father, uncle and cousin all died young to heart disease, so Vic had gastric bypass surgery a year ago. Since then he’s watched his diet, exercised and shed 110 pounds. He feels good, but his self-consciousness lingers. Vic does a lot of volunteer work helping to distribute day-olds from the bakery to a local homeless shelter, where he enjoys some repartee with Robin, a former shelter inhabitant who now volunteers there part-time. Vic’s had his eye on Robin for a couple of years now, but never approached him, well, because Robin is a young, beautiful man. And Robin’s also had a boyfriend…until recently.

In fact, Robin doesn’t want another boyfriend. He’s had a not-so-great past that included running away from home as a teen, doing drugs and turning tricks to survive. Sober for the past three years, he has difficulty with penetrative sex, and feels he’s “damaged goods” anyway. That the beefy baker, Vic, has any interest in Robin is a bit mindblowing.

Vic proceeds slowly with Robin, trying to gain any part of his attention. They agree to a fling, no commitments–because this is what Robin can tolerate and Vic will take any scrap Robin with throw him, but it ends up being supremely tender. Vic wants, more than anything, to reveal his deep attraction to Robin, but he’s afraid that will push Robin away, so he shows Robin in all the other ways how special he is. I really enjoyed watching these two build into a couple.

Robin is astounded at Vic’s patience and consideration as a lover. But, real life exists. Robin’s involvement at the shelter brings him into contact with kids who make the same choices he had. He feels as if not saving these kids, as Robin himself had been saved, is a personal failure, and it cuts deep. Vic wants to be there for Robin, but Robin’s emotions are everywhere. There’s a blow up, breakdown, and big love in this book. It’s sexy and somber, and whimsical and tender, by turns. For a novella there’s a whole lotta story, and enough sexytimes to remind us that dudes like it hot and ready.

Delivered Fast (Portland Heat, #3)About Delivered Fast:
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…

My Review:
Chris O’Neal is part owner of an independent coffee shop in Portland. His new bakery delivery man, Lance, is beautiful, young, and virile. And Lance is really into Chris, despite his beard, flannel and the ~15 year age gap. Chris really can’t fathom the attraction, plus, he’s not up for being hurt again. His previous boyfriend still owns part of his coffee shop, and Chris rather resents it. Also, Lance is really just too beautiful to be involved with such a broody bear. Or is he?

Lance makes no bones about what he needs–he wants a guy who will be casual, but not with anyone else. Lance is finishing college and applying for grad school. He works two jobs and helps out his family and friends all the time. He is focused and driven, but wants an occasional partner, and is sure that mature Chris can be that for the next several months. He cajoles Chris into it, but Chris balks continuously, always fearing that he’ll get attached and Lance will hurt him.

I loved the dynamic here. Lance really is a social butterfly and the shiniest gem in the jewelry box, yet he’s kind, selfless and generous. He sweet talks cantankerous Chris with ease, and aplomb. Chris tells this story, so we are caught in his self-torture over Lance’s age and inexperience. We see all Chris’ relationship regret and know why he chooses to hurt Lance rather than risk Lance reworking his future to include Chris. It’s all very O. Henry, and still reasonable and approachable.

I liked both of these guys, but I must say I liked Lance more. I was so glad that Chris got over his hang-ups, and liked the side characters who popped in. Will Barista Brady get his book next? This book is far seamier than the two previous, likely because of the friends-with-benefits strategy Lance employs to lure Chris in. Steam? Get ready to sweat! Yummy and engaging. A delicious love story.

Interested? You can find all the books here:
SERVED HOT: Goodreads  ||  Amazon  ||  Barnes & Noble

BAKED FRESH: Goodreads  ||  Amazon  ||  Barnes & Noble

DELIVERED FAST: Goodreads  ||  Amazon  ||  Barnes & Noble

Annabeth AlbertAbout the Author:
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.

You can catch up with Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!