REVIEW: How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden
Some things are better than chocolate…
Molly O’Brien is a sweetheart. Her friends and neighbors all think so. While she enjoys her quiet life running the town bakeshop in Applewood, Illinois, she wonders if there could be more. After losing the love of her life four years prior in a plane crash, Molly thinks she’s ready to navigate the dicey dating waters once again. However, you can’t always pick who your heart latches on to. When Jordan Tuscana, the beautiful younger sister of her lost love, returns to town, Molly finds her interest piqued in a manner she wasn’t prepared for.
As secrets are uncovered, Molly and Jordan must figure out how to navigate the difficult terrain of their multi-faceted relationship. Especially when something much deeper seems to be bubbling between them.
Dear Ms. Brayden,
At first this appears to be just a sweet – sorry, no pun on Molly’s job intended – story of second chances and small town life but soon layers begin to develop. Is Molly truly over the loss of her first and only love and ready to date again? Has Jordan finally developed the confidence needed to shrug off her parents’ disappointment in her career choice and need to match up to the high standards her older sister so effortlessly achieved?
And what about their professional lives? Can Molly save her bakeshop – the place where she grew up and the business into which she’s poured her heart? And what will Jordan’s next move be now that the big Hollywood studio is demanding what she won’t give?
Finally can Molly and Jordan navigate the rough waters of falling in love with the memory of Cassie – Molly’s first love and Jordan’s older sister – hanging over their heads? There’s a lot going on here.
These women are real with faults and flaws to go along with their sexiness in a tank top and cut-offs. Molly’s initial forays into the dating world start humorously but eventually serve to show her just how right Jordan is for her. Still Molly’s flight response to the family disapproval when the relationship is discovered reveals the fact that she and Cassie might have been deeply in love but were operating more on smooth sailing autopilot. Life with Jordan will challenge Molly to plumb the depths of emotion and might be a bit rockier. Is Molly willing to risk the hurt that might follow?
I like that Molly can be exasperating at times. And it’s realistic that she’s going to hurt Jordan while she’s finally working out her unresolved grief for Cassie and seeing that a relationship can be so much more. Still, Cassie isn’t vilified to make Jordan look better and Molly’s heartfelt visits to Cassie’s grave show how deeply they were in love.
Jordan has old demons to deal with. As a younger sister myself I can identify with how difficult and, at times, frustrating it can be to try and live up to a high achieving older sister. I didn’t act out as Jordan did but I can certainly understand wanting to match up yet stand out as her own person. It’s hard to watch her fall prey to the whisperings of someone who clearly wants to drive a wedge in her relationship with Molly but even worse, though understandable, when her family also falls into old patterns of comparison.
There are a lot of old habits that are dying hard here but I appreciate that they are shown in all their ugliness and that the characters are given time to work through and change them. While some of the external conflicts are a bit too neatly resolved, I also like that no one has completely dealt with everything – though the epilogue shows great progress – when the story ends.
For readers looking for a quieter, character driven story, I think this is a good one to reach for. Molly and Jordan are both out and comfortable with their sexual orientation and it appears the small town of Applewood accepts them as well. Perhaps this is more a magical LGBT Never Never Land but the emphasis of the story is not gaining community or family acceptance but rather working out their relationship on its own. B-