With the weather getting cooler it just seems right to bring you Kimberly Kincaid today with her short story Sugar and Spice from the anthology The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. Keep reading to get my impressions of this story and learn even more about it by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour. Make sure to fill out the form for your chance to win a copy of this anthology!
When caterer Lily Callahan goes up against hotshot pastry chef Pete Mancuso in the bake-off of the season, the stakes are high--and scandalously passionate. Will the gorgeous gourmand steal Lily's heart--and the top prize in the Christmas cookie competition?
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS STORY:
With the holidays just around the corner I find myself wanting a sentimental story full of heart and got just that with Sugar and Spice, the third story in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. With each story dealing with friends finding love amidst the warmth of the holidays and the baking of cookies readers are treated to a trio of heartwarming stories with a bit of steamy interludes. Ms. Kincaid's story revolves around a cookie baking competition that brings together two apparent opposites who bring out the best in each other and ultimately give us a HEA. Along the way we get great sexual tension that allows the protagonist's burgeoning friendship to explode in steamy encounters that allow for heartfelt emotions and past hurts to be healed through love.
Lily has wanted to be a baker since she was a child and has worked hard every step of the way to rise above her family's poverty to make something of herself. She's hardworking with a heart of gold and is an admirable heroine worthy of success. While her baking business out of her home is good she wants better and enters a competition where the prize money will allow her to open her own bakery. Her meticulous and well-planned nature serves her well in the kitchen but when it comes to fellow chef Pete she's left frustrated...and turned on. She always thought of him as the bad boy but close quarters have them getting closer to where she sees a hurt boy behind the sardonic man and wants nothing more than to heal him.
Pete's successful because of his spontaneity and brash creativity, but he's also considered a liability because of his tendency to break the rules. He has plans for his future after moving beyond his parent's alcoholic and abusive past and needs all the publicity he can get and thinks the cookie competition would be a great opportunity. From the moment he sees Lily he's drawn to her seriousness, her talent, and her openheartedness. He challenges her at every turn to let go while she tries to get him to show more of himself in his baking which leads to great success for both. I found Pete super sexy and loved seeing his flashy persona as well as his true self. For so long he was told he was a loser, and still believes it at times now, that he deserved to prove it differently to his past and himself and I rooted for him every minute.
While Pete and Lily are heating up the kitchen they're also heating up between the sheets in scenes that are both hot and heartwarming as they both open up about their pasts. I enjoyed the time taken to bind these two together in a substantial way beyond sex to make their relationship more believable and meaningful. I liked their playful banter and that they brought out the best in each other. Ms. Kincaid showed the actual competition in vivid detail, almost too much at times, which immersed me even more in the story. The main characters were immensely likable as were the brief glimpses of secondary characters that added color to the story. The flow was pleasant with a nice twist ending. Though the overall story felt somewhat familiar I still found it endearing and the perfect thing to warm my heart.
My rating is a B+
*I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The PleatherBomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She has written two digital novellas, Love On The Line and Drawing The Line, about hot cops and sexy chefs, with a third novella, Outside The Lines, due this summer. She is also thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Kimberly’s first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. She resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.
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