Review originally posted at http://wickedlilpixie.com/2012/11/06/fish-reviews-tart-by-lauren-dane/
I have something to confess. I'm in love with the Browns. Oh, sure, this is a book about Jules, one of the Delicious women, but still, it's all the same crowd, and they're a great group of people. This book did nothing to change my mind about them.
One of the things I enjoy most about Ms. Dane's books is her characters are never perfect. Sure, they may seem so at first glance. Sexy, pretty, successful, happy, but they have their moments. They have asshole relatives or bad days or get bitchy for no reason.
In this book we see Jules meet Gideon Carter. He's the grandson of one of Jules' most charming customers, and, as it turns out, an old friend from when they were young. They meet as adults and there is instant attraction. Jules and Gideon are clearly falling in love, but there's a problem. Jules is still half in love with Cal Whaley, Gideon's friend from high school, and one of Jules' best friends now. Once Cal sees Jules with Gideon he realizes he's losing her, and not just to someone unlikeable, but to someone who really loves her and cares about her and is absolutely perfect for her. So what does he do? Well, he makes kind of a jerk move, but he owns up to it. And more importantly, no one tries to hide it or dance around it or even feel obsessively guilty about it. They do what real people do, and act like grownups and deal with it immediately. It's a refreshing change from the "Oh, woe is me! I feel SOOO GUILTY! Whatever will I DO?!" hand-to-forehead whining that a lot of characters in menage books like to do.
From there we see the relationship between the three of them progress. It's not all smooth sailing. I mentioned the asshole relatives, right? Also, like in the first book of the Brown series with Ben and Todd and Erin, they WORK at their relationship. They have fights and miscommunications, but they talk it out when they need to and aren't afraid to let the others have their space when that's what is needed. Here is where Erin plays a larger role in the story, as she's a good source of advice for Jules.
There's a moment towards the end where Jules does something a little stupid. I understand why she did it, and it was true to her character, so it wasn't a jarring moment for me as a reader, but again it showed Ms. Dane's determination to let her characters act like adults in a committed, trusting relationship, and Ms. Dane doesn't let Cal or Gideon get nuts about it. These guys do what real men (heroes?) do…They help Jules, and they talk to her about how they felt about what she did in a way that wasn't burdening her further.
The only thing I wish is Jules could have had one of her epiphany moments with her brother instead of with her sister in law. The resolution with Jules' mom also felt a little rushed, but since we're not sure she meant what she said, maybe it wasn't. Wonder if we'll find out in the next book?
Between the original Brown Siblings series and this new spin-off, the Delicious series, there are a LOT of characters to keep track of, so it was nice how the characters who made actual appearances were there for real reasons, such as Aidan & Gillian finalizing wedding plans and Erin as a "Menage Mentor" and not just trotted out as a "hey, remember these books" refresher.
All in all this book was worth the wait. I enjoyed it immensely and read it in one sitting. The problem is now I have a long wait until the next book!
Lynda the Guppy
aka Fish With Sticks