Baked Fresh is the second in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series. I didn’t read the first book, but was eager to try the series as I’m a fan of the author. Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me. There’s a lot of potential with friends to lovers and tricky backstories. Still, it needed more.
My greatest problem with the book is that I barely felt a connection between the leads Vic and Robin. Vic says he’s head over heels for Robin, but rather than seeing deep emotion, I just kept seeing Vic act out, “I would never, but for Robin I would X”. That didn’t feel true to the character–Vic– being portrayed nor did it make me cheer for the relationship. I don’t enjoy seeing a character reinvent himself for the sake of another.
Robin is A Man with A Past. He’s got some History. I can appreciate that. It’s heavy stuff. Heavy stuff that’s all but dismissed as No Big Deal by Vic. No. No, I’m not OK with this. I don’t think a character needs to wallow in the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” or despair of the past, but the sort of issues Robin is trying to conquer deserved more than five minutes of page time.
I was also thrown off by the disconnect between the blurb and the book. In the blurb, Vic is portrayed as someone who always keeps his New Year’s resolutions. This discipline is touted as the key to his success. But that turns out not to be true. As far as I can tell, Vic is not “on the rise” just for keeping his New Year’s resolutions. We learn other difficult life events have occurred for Vic in conjunction with New Year’s for several years and these events have played an enormous role in keeping him dedicated to his resolutions. The blurb also makes it sound as though Vic is a baking superstar. He’s not. He’s a baker. Talented, it would seem, but not some soon-to-be celebrity.
Baked Fresh is too short a book for the backstories and issues it raises. There simply wasn’t enough there for me to buy into this story. Vic and Robin needed to spend more time and thought sorting through their complex issues and then create a viable emotional connection in order for me to believe in them as a couple. I wanted to want their HEA, but I just didn’t.