Chris O’Neal can’t help checking out the hot delivery guy dropping off baked goods at his coffee shop. He also can’t help but notice that Lance Degrassi is way too young for him. Lance is still in college and should be hanging out with guys his own age. Chris definitely doesn’t want to stand in his way. But Lance is clearly interested in Chris and his flirting makes it clear he doesn’t think Chris is too old at all.
As the guys spend more time together, the interest between them grows, and Chris finally gives in to his temptation. But he is determined that this just be a casual thing; Lance is leaving for graduate school soon and he has his whole life ahead of him. He doesn’t need to be tied down to a older, cranky, coffee shop owner who works long hours. The problem is, the more time they spend together, the more Chris realizes how much he cares for Lance and he knows it will be incredibly hard to watch him walk away. And Lance is making it clear that he has no interest in seeing things end between them. But Chris knows what it is like to give up your dream for someone else and he is determined to see Lance get everything he wants out of life, even if that means giving Lance up.
Delivered Fresh is the third book in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series and definitely my favorite one. I just adored Lance. He is fairly young (a college senior), but he is plenty mature. He is lively and fun, with just the right amount of brattiness to push Chris’ buttons. Chris has become very withdrawn since his break up two years ago and is a bit of a grump. And Lance is perfect for him, so full of life and energy and bringing a smile to his face. Seriously, Lance is crazy adorable and he makes the book for me. He is exactly what Chris needs, if only Chris would let himself have it.
Most of the conflict here centers on Chris’ fears about the age difference (he’s in his mid-thirties). Chris worries that he will stifle Lance and keep him from getting the most out of life. Chris regrets some decisions he made at that age for a guy that he thinks led him in the wrong direction, and he is determined Lance won’t repeat his mistakes. But his worry that he is too old and holding Lance back causes Chris to often forget that Lance is a grown man who can make his own decisions. It’s a bit frustrating to watch at times, especially as this is the theme that is repeated over and over throughout the book. Some of this is all in Chris’ head, his own insecurities playing out in his relationship. But I do think at times the story buys in to this idea of Chris being so old, as if he is one step in the grave, which seems a bit much give he is still a fairly young guy. But I do love an age different trope and I enjoyed it here, especially as the story plays off the personality differences between these guys.
As I mentioned, this book is the last in the series but it does stand alone totally fine. The story connects with the others in that Chris is the owner of the coffee shop with the great vegan brunch the guys in the other books go to. Lance is Vic’s cousin from Baked Fresh, and we learn Chris is friends with Robby from Served Hot (though Robby doesn’t appear in this book). So if you have read the others, you will get some nice connections to those books, but nothing here will be a problem to follow even if you haven’t read the others.
Overall I enjoyed this series and this book in particular. It was definitely my favorite of the three and I just loved Lance. The two guys have a steamy and sweet relationship and I liked seeing them work through their issues. So this is an enjoyable story and one I’d definitely recommend.