Author: Annabeth Albert
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Release Date: March 3, 2015
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?
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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Welcome to the kitchen Annabeth, I’m so glad to have you here with me! Now, I’d love to hear from you, but first things first. Which would you prefer, tea or coffee? I’m trying to be a good hostess here.
Coffee! Always coffee!
Let’s talk Annabeth for a minute. Tell me three things worthy of gossip about you.
Hmmmm. Three worthy rumors:
–Annabeth collects hot kisses on her tumblr blog for future hero inspiration! http://annabethalbert.tumblr.com/
–Annabeth is launching a m/m reality singing show series of full-length novels starting this summer. TREBLE MAKER is book 1.
–There WILL be more Portland Heat books in 2016, including one with a knitter hero!
How about this delicious series you’re writing about? Tell me a bit about Robby and David. They both seem like people I’d love to know in real life but I wonder if they were easy to write. Did either of them challenge you?
Robby is a barista at a coffee cart in downtown Portland, and David is his favorite customer. Robby’s POV was so much fun to write. David was much more of a challenge for me. First, the book is in Robby’s POV so we don’t see inside his head, but I really wanted to show the journey he’s on overcoming his grief. Walking the line between sadness and hope was the most challenging part of his characterization.
I don’t know about anyone else, but finding the love of my life through my love for coffee would be a dream come true for me. How did you come up with the idea for the Portland Heat series?
I knew I wanted to celebrate Portland and coffee, and as I write a lot in coffee houses, I really liked the idea of a barista pining for a favorite customer and having the attraction be mutual!
I have to say, M/M is one of my favorite genres in romance. I know you write both M/M and M/F stories, do you find either one more challenging to write than the other?
Each genre has its appeal and its challenges! For me, it’s all about the story and the journey I get to go on with my characters.
Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Any naughty habits? Junk food, chocolate, surfing the internet?
I start with an idea—usually a hook like “wouldn’t it be cool if a barista fell in love with his favorite customer?” Then I come up with a pretty detailed character sketch and outline. I can’t start without an outline! My rough outline will grow and change with the first draft, but it’s essential for me to start with a plan. Then I write the rough draft which then goes through several rounds of edits and critique before it’s ready for my editor. Coffee, chocolate, music, and visual inspiration are all essential parts of my process. Each book gets a soundtrack, and I usually spend some time finding the right pictures that capture how I feel about the story and characters.
Do you have a go to book or author for when you want to feel good?
So many auto-buy authors! Daisy Harris, Heidi Cullinan, Amy Jo Cousins, Megan Erickson, A.M. Arthur, Dev Bentham, Marie Sexton, Z.A. Maxfield, Amy Lane, and Cara McKenna are all on my “buy the first day it’s out” list.
Since we’re talking baristas and coffee places..You’re walking into your local coffeehouse. Along with the many drink choices, they have a variety of desserts on display as well. Plus, it’s my treat so go crazy! What’s your order?
Luckily, here in the northwest it’s relatively easy for me to find gluten-free baked goods. I’ve been gluten free for 11 years now, so I’m used to searching hard to find something I can have. In a dream world, there’s a gluten free cupcake waiting for me along with an iced sugar-free mocha.
Alright. Last but not least, how do you get along in the kitchen? Do you have a signature dish?
I love to cook. My signature dish is gluten-free, lower-sugar carrot cake. I make it several times a year, and I love when someone asks for it for a birthday cake.
Thank you so much for coming over, Annabeth, it was a pleasure having you here. I can’t wait to meet with Robby and David, see how they make it work, and take Portland one couple at a time!
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.
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