A reader who’ll try anything once, including bad books in search of good ones. Eclectic as her tastes are, she tends to gravitate to historical romances, realistic contemporaries, and some fantasy novels.
Originally posted on Love in the Margins.
Brandi Collins has a few weeks to get back into shape to show her ex-fiancé, the jerk who dumped her at the altar and made his mum apologise for him, exactly what he’s missing. It’s not that she wants him back—she has too much self respect for that—it’s that her pride is all she has left and she’s damned if she’s going to let Wesley take that too away from her.
However, there’s a problem with Brandi’s new low calorie, low men diet. That problem is her new neighbour, Mr Dark Chocolate, who bakes through the nights in preparation for the International Pastry Competition. Adam Ellison has quit his job and is living on his savings trying to fulfil his childhood dream. He doesn’t have the time to day dream about his beautiful, delicious neighbour. Better to avoid her altogether, unless she can help him create the perfect recipe.
Her diet is doomed. I know mine would have been had I been foolish enough to try to adhere to one while reading this book. I was drooling after the blurb and it only got better, er, worse in the book.
WARNING: Make sure you have chocolate in the house when you read this book. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to read this book without stocking up your guilty pleasure snack stash.
It wasn’t just the pastries that made my mouth water: It was the hero. Here we have a decent, hard working man who has decided to give up on his high-paid career in favour of something that makes him happy. Granted, he’s in the enviable position to be able to do that without risking starvation or homelessness, but he at least he recognises it.
Adam is very much aware that financially Brandi is in a much tighter spot, but he doesn’t immediately offer to write her a check and worm his way into her bed that way. Instead, he offers to help her secure a business loan in her terms and only does what any friend would do: he helps her with the paperwork, holds the camera, and drives her to the post office. So what if he steals a few kisses along the way and twists her arm to get her to taste his chocolate cakes.
Brandi doesn’t quite know what to make of this man who says she doesn’t need to loose an ounce, but supports her anyway even if he’s trying to sabotage her diet with all the delicious desserts. He even wants to give her space and time to get to know him. Surely she must be dreaming.
It’s always a pleasure to read two adults act like adults while they fall in love. Brandi might be lusting after Adam but she’s not throwing her caution or sense to the wind, and neither is Adam. Despite his chronically tightening groin he steps back and lets Brandi take the reins.
Then there are the secondary characters. Brandi has some really good friends. Her friend doesn’t exist simply to talk about the new hunk in Brandi’s life but actually saves her proposal when Adam—gasp, he’s not a jack of all trades—comes up short. There are also the families. Both the Ellisons and Collinses come across horrid in the beginning but there are reasons for these strained relations. I actually ached for Brandi, because unlike her I come from a family where our first instinct is to protect our own. If my fiancé asked me what Erin’s did her, he’d not need a best man.
Unfortunately no book is perfect and there were things that dragged down my rating. The sex scene vocabulary featured some of my most hated words and even the odd incomprehensible expression. Unless he’s a disreputable surgeon, I don’t see how he could kiss her innermost spot.
There was also the huge, scandalous secret he kept from her. Adam hiding his family inheritance was a non-issue for me because he’d been cut off and he didn’t lie about anything else. Sure he kept the extent of his savings from Brandi, but as she herself said in the book they’d only known for a short time. Sadly it led to a lovers spat at the end that felt like it had been manufactured for drama’s sake rather than being something organic and stemming from the characterisations.
Otherwise, it was as close to perfection as a book can be. Oh, and the characters are black as is the author.
Final Assessment: Stack up on the goodies and read this book. B+
Series: First of the two books featuring the Ellison brothers.