This book surprised me in such a good way! I agreed to review it because the blurb mentions pastry school, and if you know anything about me you know that I love dessert, so I was hoping for some pastry porn. I expected the characters to be more shallow, the romance to be flimsier, the ending more superficial. Then as I was reading, I thought, “Wait a minute, this is interesting!”
Jen has lived with Stefan’s family since she was twelve, after her family died in a car accident. Stefan is older, but I never got a firm grasp of his age, so maybe he’s about six years older? Their two families owned a business together, and Jen inherited stock and a trust fund, which Stefan has been managing. Jen has had a crush on Stefan forever, and Stefan noticed that Jen was desirable when she was sixteen, but his dad forbade any action between them until she was legal. So it was unrequited love on her part, and biding-his-time love on his part, but apparently they never talked about it.
The book opens when Jen is returning from six months at pastry school in Paris. She is engaged to Stefan because, on her twenty-first birthday, he put a ring on her finger and she was basically dumbstruck. He’s never kissed her deeply, and he acts kind of controlling, so she’s decided to break the engagement so that she and her friend can open their own pastry shop. She loves Stefan, but she doesn’t believe that he’s in love with her, so she thinks he’d be better off without her.
Stefan is a planner. He doesn’t like wild cards, he ignores questions he doesn’t want to answer, and he’s been planning to seduce Jen for the first time on their wedding night, so he always pulls away when she kisses him too much. In the beginning, he’s a serious alpha-hole. He’s silent, he orders her around, he gets pissed when she wears a sexy dress where others will see it, he pins her against a wall to control her. I… hated him. And I did not want Jen to learn how to deal with it because he was horrible.
Then, Jen stands up to him. Not only that, she baits him, makes him mad on purpose, and does not back down. She has a spine, you guys! Stefan, the unyielding, begins to see the real Jen, not just the princess he’s been fantasizing about, and he likes her more. He falls for her so hard, it’s beautiful. He changes for her, agrees with her decisions, pretty much lets her be the boss in their relationship (not just sexually), which is not what he’d planned at all. He basically throws all his plans out the window when it comes to Jen and smiles while doing it.
There’s some business about the car accident when Jen was younger, and the company they run, that’s kind of blah but necessary for the pretty cool way they get separated (because couples always have to get separated.) It’s not a silly misunderstanding, it’s an excellent, well-played betrayal that gets wrapped up nicely, although a little quickly.
Overall, this book was surprisingly awesome. I have to ding it a little because Stefan really was terrible in the beginning, and there were a lot of extra characters muddying the waters just a tiny bit (but generally they were cool.)
Here’s my favorite quote from Stefan: “I’ll be black-tar heroin in your veins and you won’t be able to go four hours without me somewhere deep inside you.” Steamy and funny, yep.
*ARC provided by author for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
Sweetened With a Kiss
by Lexxi Callahan
Release Date: June 25, 2013