For the last few years,Vic Degrassi has had a lot of success with his New Year’s resolutions. He went to culinary school to become a baker, gave up smoking, and last year he lost 100 pounds. This year Vic’s resolution is to start dating, and the man he really has his eye on is Robin Dawson. Robin volunteers with Vic at the Victory Mission and Vic has had a crush on him for years. Now that Robin is suddenly single again, Vic definitely hopes something may happen between them.
Robin is clear he is not interested in dating after his bad break up, but he agrees to furthering their friendship instead. Vic and Robin begin to spend more time together and grow even closer. Both men have painful pasts and they share that bond, as well as the closeness from working together in the mission. Vic definitely wants more with Robin, especially after the two start hooking up. The sex is amazing and the friendship is growing and Vic and Robin seem like a perfect fit. But when a street kid comes into the mission that Robin can’t help, it brings up painful memories of the past. Vic just wants to help support Robin, but Robin is shutting him out. It seems like Vic and Robin are finally finding something special together, but they need to trust and rely on one another for things to really work between them.
Baked Fresh is the second book in Annabeth’s Albert Portland Heat series, but it works perfectly well on its own. Our only real connection to the first story is that all the MCs end up at the same restaurant one day, but other than that, this one stands alone completely.
I think what stands out most for me in this story is that both Robin and Vic are such incredibly nice guys, while at the same time being really interesting characters. They are such good caring men, but they are also not so sweet as to be dull and boring. Vic in particular has kind of a fascinating back story. We can see that this is a determined guy, restarting his career and making major health changes in his life. After losing his father, uncle, and cousin, Vic knew he had to get his health on track. So he lost an enormous amount of weight and has incredible self discipline to stay in shape and eat healthy. He is still pained by the loss of so many of his family members, and moving on is difficult. But he also is incredibly strong when he sets his mind to something, and what he wants is Robin.
Robin is also just a good, sweet guy. He has a very painful past of life on the streets, drug use, and prostitution. He has his life together now, but that past is never far behind him. It affects him emotionally and sexually and his shame is something he still carries around. When he see this young man who seems to mirror his own experience on the streets, Robin wants nothing but to help him, and when he can’t, he almost shuts down. I loved to see the way Vic is ultimately able to support him and show Robin he can rely on someone else. Vic is this big hulk of a guy, but also so gentle and patient with Robin.They are such a sweet couple and so great together.
This story is a short novel and it is really tightly written and moves at a good pace. I do feel like there are few areas I would have liked more information however. For example, we know Vic has never dated, but never really understand why. He notes that he never had trouble finding guys, even when he was heavy. And now he seems to be quite attractive. So he was hooking up, but never dating even though he seems to want to, but I was never clear why. I also would have liked to understand more about Robin’s relationship with his ex. We know Robin has sworn off dating after their breakup, and Paul makes some appearances throughout the book, but what exactly happened seems very vague. Considering the influence this relationship has on Robin and on his interaction with Vic, I’d like to understand it better. We also never really get clarity on what makes Robin change his mind about having a relationship with Vic in the first place.
Last thing, and honestly I am not sure if this bothers me or not, but it did pull me out of the story a few times, and that is the baking metaphors. On one hand, they fit nicely with the story, as Vic is a chef. But on the other hand, as I said, they were distracting enough that I started noting them each time. For example,
- His voice was dusting-sugar soft
- Like fondant that had been pulled too thin.
- My back stiffened like week-old sourdough.
I think I am falling on the side of a little too much of the baking stuff, but still not sure.
So I really liked this one. I loved Vic and Robin and thought there were really interesting characters who were also just incredibly good people you would want to know. I found the story engaging and well written. There were a couple of holes I would have liked filled, but overall, this was a really enjoyable story.