Author: Lissa Reed
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: LaToya Conward
Rating: 4.50 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/11/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Gay, Gay Romance, Romance
Seattle-based baker Craig Oliver leads a life that is happily routine: baking cupcakes for an enormous family reunion, managing Sucre Coeur for its frequently absent owner, and closing out his day with a pint at the local pub. He has a kind heart, a knack for pastry, and a weakness for damaged people.
Habitual playboy Alex Scheff is looking to drown his sorrows, but instead discovers that he may have a weakness for Englishmen who carry cookies in their pockets. Can a seemingly incompatible pair find the recipe for love in a relationship they claim is casual?
This book had so many things going for it; I almost don’t know where to start. First, there was the cast, with Craig leading the way. He’s simply adorable, from his need to care for people to his spiritual wisdom, throwing himself with abandon into anything he enjoys: baking, fucking, looking after people… loving. Loving Alex, to be precise, who started out the prickliest of prickly cactuses but opened up like a flower under Craig’s tender hands, one tiny petal at a time. They were so perfect for each other, a born problem fixer and a guy carrying an almighty pack of these around, a dark-skinned Englishman of Scottish and West Indian heritage and the blond scion of a Russian-American clan. And if these two weren’t diverse enough, there’s a bunch of side characters who are just as colorful. All kinds of races, genders, identities, and orientations coexist cheerfully on the pages of this book, and some of them even get their say for a little while.
Proceeding to the story in and of itself, it was just… sweet in its slow, at times almost gentle pace, filled with treats, edible and otherwise. The sex scenes in particular; I savored each and every one of them. And then there was drama, I mean DRAMA, in sparkling bilious green and hot pink flashing letters six feet high with sprinkles on top. Wow, these guys know how to throw a tantrum, especially Alex. I’m not talking about flying dishes and shouting matches, I’m talking about wallowing in hurt, misery and self-pity to the point of self-denial, even self-destruction. Even though it fit both main characters’ personalities – and their exuberant gaggle of friends—to a T, it was all a bit much, at least for me.
Which brings me to the few niggles I had with this story that kept me from fully enjoying it. And I’ll make a point here that this is my personal opinion, and others might love this book just for the things that bothered me. Anyway, here goes.
For one, it was written in alternating 1st person POV present tense, and while some stories I’ve read recently rocked that kind of narrative, it didn’t sit right with me here. I found it kept me away from the story instead of drawing me in as it was probably supposed to do. And for another, there was the writing in particular. It read almost narcissistic at times, as if it was there as an end in itself at times, forcing the story proper into the backseat. The way the writing pushed itself to the fore jerked me out of the story every time it happened, interrupting the reading flow. The same with the cast of characters; while I appreciated the attempt at diversity, it felt like trying a little too hard.
However, if those things don’t bother you, I can warmly recommend this story of hurt, comfort, healing and second chances. It was warm, beautiful and oh-so romantic, and I closed it with a happy sigh.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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