Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.
Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….
That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.
Sweet Nothings by T. Neilson was another terrific contemporary romance for me this week. A first story in a new series (Amuse Bouche which means one bite) this had many elements I just love to find in my stories. Food, in this case baking, some hurt/comfort, large families, a ‘bad boy’ looking for redemption, and a whole lot of love.
Tristan Love or Tris is a wonderful character coming home carrying secrets with him from his recent breakup with his long time boyfriend. Determined to make it on his own, not even his large (and popular) family is aware of his homecoming and the fact that he’s bought out the town’s old bakery. I loved this character from the moment we met. Neilson has created a man both of strength and vulnerability, full of purpose and yet so full of doubt as well. Tris is easy to identify with and connect with emotionally. Doubly so as the revelations start to come.
Jake, the mechanic with the past is also an easy personality to fall in love with. He’s almost too good to be true as can be shown in a scene with a person from his past. I thought given what he’s still going through and has been through, some anger and resentment would have been human. Yet his reaction was almost serene. Honestly I found that a little unrealistic. But that’s my only quibble here. A little more of the bitterness that the character demonstrates at the beginning of the story would have made this scene more authentic. But that’s just my opinion.
I liked their build towards a relationship and the brothers antagonistic behavior towards it and Jake (understandable in protective older brothers who act first, think later). That seemed right on the money. And the brothers lack of understanding of Tris and his ex’s relationship as its effect on the brother/brother relationship over the years was toxic. That too was only briefly addressed. I’m glad the author went there but like other elements here it could have used more storytime.
There’s an abusive element here that needed more exploration or perhaps a little deeper treatment. I thought it was thrown into the story, then its effects on Tris handled a little too casually (domestic violence after all). Same goes for the resolution for the criminal at the end. Was the wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly? I think perhaps so. For men, domestic violence is a harsh reality that’s never addressed or passed by because of gender. The author used an important topic as in element in their story but then sort of slide it aside, much like it is in society itself.
All this said, I still really enjoyed this story. I liked the characters, their relationship, the secondary cast, and the plotlines. I will most definitely be seeking out the other stories in this series. Amuse Bouche. Does that indicate that each will be a standalone? Seems to be, although I was hoping for a Love family long run of romances. I guess I’ll be waiting and reading as they come out. Until then, I’m recommending Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) by T. Neilson.
Cover Artist: Bree Archer did a great job. That’s definitely Tris and his bakery.
ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: April 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Series Amuse Bouche #1