REVIEW: Tart by Lauren Dane
Dear Ms. Dane:
Juliet Lamprey is the owner of Tart, an innovative bakery that makes scrumptious baked goods. When Jules decides that it’s time to start using locally grown goods as much as possible for her ingredients, she decides that she should start with Patrick Carter’s farm. Mr. Carter is a sweet older man, and she’s always adored him. She’s delighted to find Gideon, Mr. Carter’s grandson, has moved home to help run their farm. The moment she and Gideon lay eyes on each other, sparks fly. They are wildly attracted to each other and begin a heavy flirtation.
Jules and Gideon’s burgeoning relationship is not good news for her friend Calvin Whaley. Jules has always had a thing for Cal, but he’s never wanted to endanger their relationship by taking it to the next level. But the moment he sees Gideon and Jules together, he realizes that he’s made a mistake. He and Jules have been friends forever, but he’s nervous to tell her that he wants more. Unsurprisingly, when he tells Jules, she basically tells him to go pound salt, she’s with Gideon and he should have acted sooner. But Jules can’t stop thinking about what Cal has told her. She knows that Cal has been with both men and women in his past, and she’s not really sure what to think about his sudden confession that he wants to be with her. Does he really? Or is he just a kid who is mad that someone else is playing with his toy? She’s happy with Gideon, and has no desire to endanger that, but she’s always wondered what being with Cal would be like. Finally, she decides to tell Gideon what is going on. Gideon and Cal have been friendly a long time, and they decide to sit down and talk about what is going on with Jules. The realize that they’re not just attracted to Jules, but also to each other. They wonder if Jules might be open to a relationship with both of them.
There are so many things that I really liked about this book. First, Jules isn’t all, “yes please” when the guys approach her. She has all the valid questions that one would have if approached with this idea, beginning with, “how can I be enough for both of you?”. Then, once the trio begin their relationship, they run into local bias, and outright family disdain for their relationship. It makes the hurdles far more realistic than if everyone just accepted their relationship, which is definitely non-traditional. The trio have varying strengths and their interactions are sexy and funny and emotional. You have always excelled at writing spicy love scenes and this book is no exception. Whether the trio is together or they’re one-on-one, the sex is never gratuitous, and always advances or deepens the relationships. I really liked that this is a very character driven book, and as always, I appreciate Jules’ ability to call “bullshit” and not back down when she feels like she’s being mistreated or disrespected. Your strong heroines are part of the reason that I find your books so compelling and enjoyable to read.
Tart is part of the Delicious series, which is a spin-off from the Brown Sibling series (my very favorite of yours). It’s fun to see past characters, but this book stands alone very credibly. I’m really looking forward to the next books in the series. I give Tart a B+.