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REVIEW: Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer

Dear Ms. Strohmeyer,

book review Up until last year when we got some arcs, I hadn’t tried any of your books. After I read “The Sleeping Beauty Proposal” and “The Cinderella Pact,” I was hooked. When I opened a box of books Jane sent me, I clapped my hands when I saw your newest title, “Sweet Love.”

From the book blurb, I thought this would be skewed a little more towards Chick Lit. A feeling that was confirmed as I read: first person heroine POV, works slightly drudge job and is under appreciated by her bosses, has family “issues,” loves hero but is unsure of his feelings. And yet, Julie is far more than a ditzy CL heroine, the family concerns are realistic, she does get satisfaction from doing her job well and is rewarded by peer recognition and the hero, Michael, is in the book far more than is usual for this subgenre. Plus the humor, which I loved, is more wry, gentle sarcasm rather than falling-on-her-ass slapstick.

I’m fairly close in age to Julie and though I don’t have a teenage daughter, or any daughter for that matter, I do have an aging mother whose health has also started to decline. I remember when it hit me that my mother, such a stable presence in my life, is getting old. That she is no longer the youthful woman of my childhood and that sooner rather than later, I will lose her. I can fully understand Julie’s concern over her mother’s health. Her exasperation when her mother, who spent so long battling breast cancer, doesn’t want to go to the doctor unless she has to.

I can also sympathize with an aging parent who sometimes forgets things yet whose sense of humor can still zing me. My mother also has a drawer filled with recipes gathered over years of cooking – some fancy, some comfort food, all old favorites. Years ago I began to copy them for my own kitchen though there are some which due to the number of eggs, cups of sugar or whatnot required I seldom make. Like Julie, I think getting older and having to watch your waistline is a bitch.

My mother – to my knowledge – has never interfered with my love life so hasn’t needed to try and get me back together with “the love of my life.” Though if she had, I would love a series of classes about fancy French desserts too. But it’s going to take more than bonding over Almond Biscotti Tiramisu to fix what’s gone wrong between Julie and Michael.

I can understand why Julie initially thinks Michael has no romantic feelings for her due to his brotherly rejection of her youthful pass at him. Their subsequent marriages, divorces and professional clash over her investigative expose of the politician for whom he worked seals her belief that friendship is the best they can do. Julie does have reason to think he might be seeing someone else but as the book progresses, I thought that it was pretty darn obvious that his interest was in her and not the supposed “other woman.” As Julie’s brother tells her, a man who brings flowers and chocolate is looking to get laid. A man who brings window air conditioners, lugs them up two flights of stairs, installs them and then also cooks you dinner is looking for a place in your life.

Yes, Julie is heading towards middle age. Yes, she does have image issues – though not horrible ones. As the mother of a seventeen year old daughter, she knows her own chance for a wild and crazy youth is behind her. Michael is very attractive, well to do, sought after by other woman. I can understand how Julie would be willing to listen to someone she doesn’t even know telling her that Michael is deeply involved with a younger woman. But…several people she knows and trusts insist his interest is in her, never mind the man’s own actions and his repeated statements that he’s there for her, anytime and anywhere. I don’t even need his POV to know Julie’s The One for him. Her continued efforts to push him away eventually exasperated me as much as Michael.

As a relationship book about mothers and daughters, “Sweet Love” is fantastic. However, the romantic ups and downs, especially the downs, of Julie and Michael’s slowly rebudding love felt manipulated to serve the needs of the plot instead of freely flowing. The shallow, dessert lover in me oohed and aahed over the cover, though. B

Best

Jayne

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. Marg
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 15:34:59

    I am looking forward to reading this one. I thought that her last book was her best one, and I have read all of them so far!

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  2. Sarah Strohmeyer
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 16:29:41

    Dear Jayne:

    So…since this is addressed to me, the author (that kind always freaks me out a bit), I thought I’d just chime in to say thanks for the review. All publicity helps and I think you did an excellent job of describing the mother/daughter relationship in the book.

    SWEET LOVE is based heavily on my own relationship with my dear departed mother, Nancy, and I wrote it as a tribute to her. My goal was to reach out to women in similar situations so we could laugh/cry/eat our way through it. And I welcome anyone who’s read the book and gone through a similar experience to please write me at [email protected]. So far, REVIEWERS have written me to share their experiences and I’ve found their stories uplifting and supportive.

    I’m so bummed I got a B though…Is there any extra credit I can do to bump it up? A poster maybe? Or how about sending you a box of cupcakes? :)

    Cheers,

    Sarah

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  3. stephanie feagan
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 16:37:20

    Dude, buy me a cupcake and I’ll give you an A+, with a shiny gold star for your head.

    Buy me a cigarette and I’ll stand on a street corner and hawk your book to passersby.

    Stef, who quit 7 months ago and is suddenly, strangely, craving the damn things…I’ll go buy this book and read, instead.

    There, Ms. Strohmeyer – you can say you aided and abetted an ex-smoker in her quest to remain nicotine-free. That’s an A if ever I saw one. By the way, you rock at life, and your books are superb.

    ReplyReply

  4. Sarah Strohmeyer
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 17:47:03

    I have no life. Two kids, a husband, unpaid bills and MOUNDS of laundry, but no life. Hence… this is my day’s procrastination.

    Dude. You’re on. And there’s a great Stephen King short story about a guy who makes a pact with the devil and quits cigarettes for a year. And THEN goes back…to dire consequences not involving him personally. I gotta dig that one up.

    I smoked as a newspaper reporter ’cause it was the thing. Then one day I lit a cigarette and nearly barffed – that’s how I found out I was pregnant. (Sweet story, huh?) After that I “party smoked” (not when I was pregnant) until my husband a year or so ago said, “Aren’t you getting a little old for this?” And it hit me. Done. I’d tried to quit many times before but sometimes the stars are aligned and after that moment NEVER had a craving. I swear.

    That story was meant to be inspirational, not bragging.

    Dude. You made my day. The cupcakes are coming.

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  5. (Jān)
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 18:37:33

    Now *that* is the kind of cover I want on a romance. Forget the men, let me eat cupcakes!

    ReplyReply

  6. Maya
    Jun 05, 2008 @ 22:38:57

    Sometimes, you feel a little bit of karma in blogland.

    My mother, who lives with a chronic, highly debilitating, progressive condition for which there is no cure called me today to say she is deteriorating and will not be able to remain in her living situation much longer. Though we knew that day was coming made it no less of a crisis today.

    Sometimes, it can be helpful to find out what a fictional character does in real life situation.

    BTW – love that cover. Sweet indeed, and full of promise.

    ReplyReply

  7. Sarah Strohmeyer
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 05:50:26

    Karma indeed.

    And so it begins, right Maya? I’m so sorry and, yes, even though you know it’s coming, it’s no easier. Also, from what I’m hearing, it doesn’t matter what your relationship with your mother’s been like before this. It can have been good, bad, argumentative, tense…she’s still your mother and you’re her daughter and that’s that.

    I wish I could get you a copy of the book now. Or whenever. How will her living situation change?

    Ja(y)nes…sorry for hijacking your blog. Maya, if you want to talk more, write me at [email protected].

    Sarah

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  8. Jayne
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 05:57:47

    I'm so bummed I got a B though…Is there any extra credit I can do to bump it up? A poster maybe? Or how about sending you a box of cupcakes? :)

    LOL, last year I’d have taken you up on the offer but with 10 pounds off and 10 more to go, I have to watch what I eat. Plus with the heat wave currently going through my area, I’m afraid they’d end up as little piles of melted goo.

    As I said, I don’t have a daughter but I’m waiting to see if my niece will start acting like Julie’s teenage daughter in a few years.

    A friend sent me something called: 100 Things only people from Massachusetts know… – I laughed to see so many of them mentioned in this book.

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  9. Jayne
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 06:00:37

    Ja(y)nes…sorry for hijacking your blog. Maya, if you want to talk more, write me at [email protected].

    By all means, feel free. Just having someone to listen to you vent can be such a help. Maya, I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I’m dreading the day it’s me in your shoes.

    ReplyReply

  10. Sarah Strohmeyer
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 07:58:27

    Congrats on the weight loss. 10 lbs makes such a difference, doesn’t it? Or at least that’s what I hear….But my cupcakes don’t have calories, didn’t you know? Invisible butter, sugar and flour.

    The daughter’s modeled after my own and Michael’s modeled after an old crush of mine who kinda walked back into my life while I was writing the book. (How’s that for Karma?)

    So…looking back on that, I guess I have no originality at all:)

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  11. Jayne
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 08:22:05

    ….But my cupcakes don't have calories, didn't you know? Invisible butter, sugar and flour. –

    Oh, well, in that case….

    ReplyReply

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