THE SWEETHEART DEAL by Miranda Liasson

Blossom Glen, Book 1

From the publisher:

From the bestselling author of the Angel Falls series, two enemies say “I do” in the first irresistible book about Blossom Glen.

Pastry chef Tessa Montgomery knows what everyone in the teeny town of Blossom Glen says about her. Spinster. Ice Queen. Such a shame. It’s enough to make a woman bake her troubles away, dreaming of Parisian delicacies while she makes bread at her mother’s struggling boulangerie. That is until Tessa’s mortal enemy―deliciously handsome (if arrogant) chef Leo Castorini, who owns the restaurant next door―proposes a business plan…to get married.

Leo knows that the Castorinis and the Montgomerys hate each other, but a marriage might just force these stubborn families to work together and blend their businesses for success. The deal is simple: Tessa and Leo marry, live together for six months, and then go their separate ways. Easy peasy.

It’s a sweetheart deal where everyone gets what they want―until feelings between the faux newlyweds start seriously complicating the mix. Have they discovered the perfect recipe for success…or is disaster on the way?

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This was such a fun read! And look at me, starting a series with the first book. I will definitely be looking for the next.

Tessa and Leo have some history, and their families do as well. In fact, the feud between the Montgomerys and the Castorinis goes back almost a hundred years. Tessa and Leo have been competitive since high school, when Leo beat out Tessa for a coveted college scholarship that allowed him to escape their small town and go to school in New York City. He graduated and worked in the financial market there for ten years, while Tessa stayed, working in her family’s boulangerie but dreaming of owning her own pastry shop. For those of you who didn’t have Mlle. Levitt for French class, (she of the love affair with all French food,) or you were smarter than me and took Spanish, a boulangerie is a bakery that only sells bread. A patisserie sells pastry, cake, cookies, etc., and never the twain shall meet under the same roof. In France. In America, it’s a rare bakery that narrows itself that much, but I digress.

Leo and Tessa have more in common than a lifelong rivalry. He lost his mother when he was young; Tessa lost her father. Their family businesses are next door neighbors, which only increases the friction. Now that Leo has returned from New York, he wants to help his father save the family business, an Italian restaurant that has been in decline since his mother died. But his father isn’t interested in Leo’s ideas or trying anything new. All he wants is for Leo to get married. Leo soon realizes that the only way he will be able to help save the restaurant is if he gets married, but Leo has been a player for years, not interested in any kind of relationship. Until now.

Tessa’s family business is also on the skids. They lost their biggest account, a small grocery chain that was swallowed by a bigger one. Her mother will not allow her to sell any pastries in the shop, and is also stuck in the mindset of it used to work just fine this way and it will again. But will they have the time to find that out?

Leo proposes a marriage of convenience to Tessa; they will work together to save both family businesses, then in six months or so, divorce. It takes some persuading but Tessa finally caves. The fake marriage, a variation of the fake dating trope, is always fun and it is here. Do I have to tell you that Tessa and Leo fall in love? That they have a major falling out that threatens everything? And that they find their way back to one another?

I loved these characters and their stubbornness. I loved how they both caved, dragging their families out of the Romeo & Juliet feud into a happy ending. There is a lot of humor here, and a lot of heart in this sweet romance. The only thing that could have made this book better would have been recipes! I can’t wait for the next book in this series, The Sweetheart Fix. Sadly, it will be a bit of a wait.

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SWEETHEART DEAL by Miranda Liasson. Montlake (January 18, 2022). ISBN: 978-1649370273. 330p.

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