My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: So after quite a few months, I finished “Tart” and actually really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Jules, Cal, and Gideon. They have their moments of weakness, and sometimes there were parts of the story I was a little sketchy to buy, but ultimately, this was a very sweet story for its respective genre and I enjoyed watching the dynamic of the characters, their interactions, and their growth from various challenges that tested them in their lives. I’d probably give this either 3 or 3.5 stars on the whole.
“Tart,” the second story in Lauren Dane’s “Delicious” series is a sweet read. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would going into the novel, given that Dane has such an eye for natural character chemistry and developing relationships. That was one of the parts I appreciated the most about this read.
One thing to keep in mind when going into this novel – if you don’t know the relationships beforehand, it can be a little difficult to get started because Dane throws you into the narrative head first. I think that might’ve been what made me put this novel down because I thought I was missing something to start with, but I realized – as I picked it up again several months after the fact – that it just takes a bit to follow along with the narrative as it’s presented. I think if you’ve read some of Dane’s other works, you may have more of a handle on the characters featured in this, but as someone who was introduced to this particular series via galley, I found my flow with the story in time. It took patience to see and it paid off rather well.
Jules (Juliet) is just one of the bakers a part of Delicious, and she’s very passionate about her work. She doesn’t expect her old crush Gideon to show up in town to help his grandfather, nor does she expect him to be so…grown up. 😉 The two have a very nice connection and overarching developing relationship – which I loved watching unfold steadily because it felt like a real coming to terms.
The other shoe drops when Jules’s childhood best friend, Cal, realizes Gideon’s in town and will pose a threat to his long unstated sentiments for Jules, though he identifies as bisexual. Cal’s advances lead to an encounter between all of them that seems to come to a head, but is resolved in Gideon’s rather interesting proposal to Jules: why not a relationship between all three of us?
And that’s where it gets interesting and complicated at the same time.
The story does a nice job of balancing fluff, real world coming to terms with tough issues, sweetness and steamy sexy times. I had a hard time believing the reason for them hooking up, but in the end, I was rooting for Jules, Gideon and Cal, particularly when they were up against some horrible standards on behalf of their not so “conventional” relationship. I loved the other characters in the novel, including Gillian and Mary, whom I was able to see in brief snippets here, but still fairly developed for what they brought to the story.
It was certainly worth the read, and I look forward to the next book in the series.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from Edelweiss, from the publisher Berkley Trade.