A Sweet Mess Series by: Jayci Lee

A SWEET MESS

” Aubrey Choi has been content running her highly successful bakery Comfort Zone and with its first expansion taking up all of her time, dating has been the least of her priorities. Then a one-night-stand with gorgeous Korean hunk Landon Kim makes her want things she didn’t think she had time for. Too bad it turns out he’s a celebrity food critic whose scathing review of Comfort Zone goes viral and nearly destroys Aubrey’s business–and her fond memory of their night together.

Landon tries to clean up the mess he made by offering Aubrey a spot on the new celebrity cooking show he’s producing. She agrees to use this as a way to save her bakery and her reputation–no thanks to him–but vows to guard her heart. Now Aubrey and Landon find themselves sharing a villa in California wine country, which is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. For the next three weeks, baker and critic will tempt each other as they struggle to resist admitting that they have all the necessary ingredients for love. “

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One fate filled day Landon blows a tire as he drives through the small town of Weldon and is stuck there until morning. Landon needing a drink, after a long and strange day, just happens to stumble into the bar owned by Aubrey’s best friend. The instant they meet they both feel drawn to each other and end up spending an explosive night together. Thinking they’ll never see each other again Aubrey heads back to her place while Landon is still asleep. Landon wakes to disappointment, when he realizes she’s gone, but quickly recovers and heads out since he’s got to fly out for a month long trip to Asia.

Before Landon had blown a tire, and gotten stuck in Weldon, he was supposed to hit one last Michelin star restaurant so he could write a review before leaving on his month long trip. He never intended to write a review on Comfort Zone since he prefers to sample multiple items off a menu, and he was only able to sample one disturbing bundt cake. Landon tries to get out of writing any reviews but his boss says he needs something, really anything, and so Landon writes on the “arrogance” of the baker at Comfort Zone and how it’s impolite to use your customers as guinea pigs.

Aubrey is gut punched by the review, one because the wrong bundt cake was sold, and second because she realizes who the reviewer is. Unbeknownst to Landon the bundt cake he sampled was actually a special order for a six year olds birthday and never intended for general consumption. Although the locals remain fiercely loyal, to Comfort Zone, Aubrey is being hit hard by the loss of tourist revenue due to the negative review.

Although mostly light, sweet, and funny I wouldn’t necessarily group this book into my “perfect beach read” books. Aubrey and Landon both were deeply affected by their parents at a young age and still carry scars. Both want/need love, and forever, but both are too scared of getting their hopes up only to be rejected.

Growing up Aubrey went from seeing her dad as a role model, and God like, to seeing him for the flawed, greedy, and cruel man he was. It was hard for Aubrey to understand why her mother would stay in a loveless marriage with someone who constantly had new mistresses and showed no remorse for his actions. When Aubrey was old enough she left home to travel and see who she was, and who she could be, outside of her father’s control. It’s been years since Aubrey went back home and she is intent on continuing to move forward as she is so close to achieving her dream of being a successful baker/bakery owner.

Landon saw his family almost lose everything, when he was young, due to his father’s constant issues of not being able to hold onto money. After graduating, from a prestigious culinary school, Landon sold his food blog, for enough money to save his childhood home, and provide for his mother and younger brother. Working hard to ensure his mother and brother would always be well taken care of, he gave up on his dream of someday owning his own restaurant.

Having never had a good example of a loving and healthy relationship both characters struggle to believe such a thing could actually exist.

This story was such a good read, I loved seeing the growth of hope in both MC’s and see their scars start to heal by just being in each others lives. I definitely recommend reading this story as well as trying out the recipes in the back of the book!


THE DATING DARE

No serious relationships. This is the one rule Tara Park made for herself and it has been working swimmingly, thank you very much. The occasional fling is fine, especially since she’s busy with Weldon Brewery. But when Seth Kim, temptation personified and her best friend’s new brother-in-law walks into her life, Tara might be willing to bend her golden rule…but only for four dates–the four dates she agreed to after a few good rounds of beer and a game of truth or dare. It’ll be fun. No biggie.

Seth Kim can’t believe Tara agreed to his dating dare. He’s leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But their secret dates, while sweet and sexy, always hit roadblocks straight out of a romantic comedy. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings are smoother, frequent, and heated. However, the more Seth sees of Tara, the less willing he is to let her go–and what was supposed to be a fun little game turns into something that neither of them are ready for.

But sometimes, the best things in life are the ones we never see coming. “

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***I received this ARC, through NetGalley, from Saint Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. ***

Picking up right where “A Sweet Mess” ended we are able to see Aubrey and Landon’s wedding, through Tara’s eyes. Tara, maid of honor and best friend to Aubrey, keeps catching Seth staring at her, throughout the festivities. Seth, best man and little brother to Landon, can’t help but be captivated by the stunning Maid of Honor.

Eager to escape the lovey-dovey couple, Tara and Seth agree to have a drink at Tara’s family brewery. During their chat they decide to play a game of Truth or Dare. Seth, knowing he only has a month left before he moves his entire life to Paris, wants to get to know Tara and uses the game to his advantage.

Neither one wants a serious commitment, but neither can deny their attraction to each other, so when Seth dare’s Tara to four dates without falling in love with him…she accepts. Both commitment-phobes, for different reasons, agree to keep their dates between them.

As the story progresses, we find out why both Tara and Seth haven’t had any serious relationships in a long time. Past relationships, have deeply hurt and affected each of them, and left them scared of committing to anything serious.

Both characters have been so deeply affected by their past, unhealthy, relationships that they fail to see that a healthy and happy relationship is possible. In the past, both Tara and Seth gave to people who continuously, and greedily, took and left them with broken spirits and self esteem. Neither Tara or Seth are willing to allow themselves to be that vulnerable again.

As their time together shortens, both are left wondering if their truly okay with their relationship ending. Could a happy ending be possible and is it worth fighting for?

Understandably, both characters are deeply wounded, and affected by their pasts. That being said, I felt that the amount of times they emotionally went back and forth was a bit much. For being so deeply affected by their pasts I feel like they really didn’t delve deep enough when discussing those relationships. Understandably, bringing up the past can be extremely difficult, but for the story I would have felt a little more invested in their HEA if they’d dug deeper.

All that being said, I do hope we see more of Weldon, and get to know more of its residence as they follow their dreams and their hearts.


Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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