tl;dr: sexy candy-maker and struggling baker have sweet, sexy times
Polly Lockhart is at a turning point in her career. Luke Stone is an overprotective workaholic. Sound familiar? If you have read Nina Lane’s other series, Spiral of Bliss, these archetypes do seem to be nearly carbon copies of Dean and Liv. There are major differences, but overall, Liv and Polly are practically twins separated at birth, and Dean and Luke don’t fall too far from the same tree.
But let’s return to that later.
Polly is floundering both personally and professionally, dating a loser who cares more about video games than her and struggling to keep her late mother’s bakery solvent. In the months since her mother passed from cancer, Polly has been going through the motions. At the insistence of her friend, she goes out to have fun at a dive bar, and ends up making out (and puking on) a very sexy man. She thinks she’ll never see him again, but fate is never that kind in a romance novel!
Luke, on the other hand, is a workaholic jackass, who is trying to reverse the damage to the family business that was caused when a jilted ex dragged his name through the courts in the name of a paternity suit. While Luke was cleared on DNA, the damage was done, and the company is still struggling to make a comeback. Luke is on the warpath, micro-managing and being a general grumpy butt, and his father is begging him to cut loose and take a vacation.
When Luke and Polly reconnect while she is touring his company’s test kitchens, he pretty much demands that she go to dinner with him. What follows is a whirlwind romance, that Luke is trying to prevent from taking over his heart. Polly gets him to have fun, take a weekend off, and he’s completely besotted. He can’t reconcile the idea of letting it go too far, however, and keeps trying to put the brakes on. Polly doesn’t think a guy like Luke would ever want to be serious with a nobody like her, and so, despite both of them being completely enamored with each other, they are reluctant to actually say so.
So, here we arrive back at where we started. Are Luke and Polly just Liv and Dean 2.0? There are a lot of similarities, particularly with the physical attributes of both sets of characters. The women are curvy with long brown hair, and the men are trim, well-built, with dark hair that flops into their eyes. Luke and Dean are both immensely protective, to the point of being assholes sometimes, and Liv and Polly both make discoveries about themselves and their cooking/baking ability, and also both spent many years of their childhood at Twelve Oaks, the hippie commune I’m assuming is a creation of the author but I can’t be certain.
The crux of the matter is: can I consider it a problem if, in an otherwise pretty great book, it simply feels like the author borrowed from herself a little too much? Liv and Dean are pretty great characters, and the reason they are so great is because they really come alive in their books. Polly and Luke weren’t as alive, mostly because I kept envisioning Dean and Liv in their stead because they were too similar.
That’s not to say this book wasn’t enjoyable. I know Nina Lane can write angst, and there wasn’t much at all in this book, but there’s nothing wrong with that. This is a sugary, light romance. The sexy parts are very hot, and I loved the friendship and warmth between the characters. I just found them too similar to Liv and Dean, and that was a touch distracting.
Otherwise, some great humor in this book, the writing was excellent, and I look forward to reading about the rest of the Stone brothers and the Sugar Rush Candy Company.
This book isn’t available at libraries, but you can keep an eye on this page to see if that changes, or to make a purchase from the retailer of your choice.
There are a lot of books about sexy billionaires, maybe try The Boss by Abigail Barnette.
If you enjoyed this book, I highly recommend her other series, The Spiral of Bliss, starting with Arouse.