Sweet As Sin by Inez Kelley
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: Full length (279 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Lily
John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he's driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.
Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won't lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she's as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?
The two main characters are at opposite ends of the romance spectrum, chalk and cheese – you name it, they’re different. John Murphy is used to one-night stands, a love-and-leave-‘em kinda guy (someone “you give your virginity to under the bleachers”); Livvy Anderson wants “the white wedding, the picket fence, the baby bottles”. John’s a well-off, best-selling fantasy writer, Livvy’s a brilliant pastry cook struggling to make a living. It is this disparity that pulled me into the story which tried to convince me that such inequality could lead nowhere except to broken hearts.
The characters are likeable, especially Livvy who spots John’s inner angst under his “Jack the Lad” façade. She’s prepared to give him a chance, and so a series of misunderstandings that lead to a steamy, passionate, off/on affair ensues. John -- and I give full-marks to the author for calling her hero, John -- finds monsters more real than most people yet his character is well-rounded, even if he does show a tendency to fly off the deep end. I thought Livvy deserves better, but her generous heart recognizes that he’s a conundrum and harboring a secret tragic past. Although she, quite rightly, gets angry at him, she forgives him when things get tough. As she toils on, the possibility that he killed someone arises and this adds an excellent plot twist which kept me engaged. John’s endearing characteristics do surface and they are his saving grace - he interacts perfectly with children and the love he shows for his sister is beautifully portrayed.
I had two issues with the story, but it was more to do with personal taste so other readers will probably disagree with me. The revelation of the secret is graphic but too quickly explained for my taste. It’s not for the faint-hearted, either -- I was almost as traumatized by it as John. My other grouse is that the reader is taken into episodes of John’s fantasy writing and a parallel world of magic and monsters. I understand Ms. Kelley’s reason for this – it’s John’s way of dealing with his trauma by ensuring that good always wins over evil and it gives him the chance to portray Livvy as one of the good guys. However, I was too tied up in the main plot and I admit I skipped a page or two of the fantasy world. It’s for these two reasons that I took away a bit in the rating.
On the whole, I enjoyed Sweet as Sin which is well plotted with intriguing, appealing, true to life characters and I guarantee everyone will want the best for Livvy and ultimately for John too. Some of Livvy’s pastries will have your mouth watering and the sizzling sex scenes will keep you engrossed for hours. If you’re a fan of happy ever afters then this contemporary romance is definitely for you. Highly recommended.