Lori Foster serves up a sweet story with Tangled Sheets (A Winston Brothers novella).
Grade: B (Amazon 4 Stars)
Synopsis: For months, Cole Winston has been obsessed with the sweet and sexy Sophie. Every night, Sophie closes her boutique, walks into his bar, settles in for a cup of hot cocoa, and then proceeds to drive Cole to distraction. Watching Sophie eat whipped cream in his bar is the highlight of Cole’s day, and he longs to tell Sophie how he feels, but Sophie has no idea the effect she has on him. In fact, Sophie is so sure the gorgeous Winston brother doesn’t like her that she has decided to let her sexy twin Shelly seduce him. Except… Shelly is Sophie. By pretending to be a sexy-vampy version of herself, Sophie hopes to have her cocoa and drink it, too. Will being Shelly help Sophie save her friendship with Cole while letting her say goodbye to her unwanted virginity?
The Good: So often romance short stories or novellas are disappointing: underdeveloped, clunky, little slips of story that don’t cover much. But Tangled Sheets is a treat. Foster provides a satisfying back story for the couple that allows her narrative to come to a boil quickly. And Sophie is such an endearing character. In a world where women must be lambs in the kitchen and tigers in the bedroom, Sophie struggles to step out of her buttoned-up sweaters and step into sexy come-hither stilettos. Watching Sophie seduce Cole was fun and engaging because it felt so true. Women really do struggle to find courage to love the man they like. And for all the Sex in the City, Chick-Lit heroines that are professional vixens and sex-goddesses, there are many, many, many, many more women who are less comfortable oozing sex, who prefer hot cocoa to appletinis, who are small-town rather than big-city. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Foster for featuring a female character like Sophie.
Of course, the Sophie-is-Shelly story line was a difficult one to manage well. If Cole loves Sophie and simply can’t find a way to tell her, how can he have sex with Shelly? How can he be attracted to her? When I first read the cover blurb, I was incredibly skeptical, but Foster pulls it off. Tangled Sheets is like the cocoa shelly loves: sweet, comforting, and piping hot.
The Bad: The end was too neatly wrapped up. After a passionate night with Cole, Sophie sneaks away in the morning, mortified because she realizes that Cole has seen through her deception. She feels both embarrassed and and a little betrayed. She calls out of work to avoid him and wonders how she will ever face him again. But… Wait! That night, Sophie comes to his bar as she always does. They talk. He proposes. They are getting married. The end.
Like that layer of filmy chocolate on the bottom of a cup of cocoa, their conversation is cloying and unconvincing, syrupy and sickly sweet. Of course, I would have preferred that Foster add a touch of warm milk and swirl it around for a few more sips of Delicious, but the shortness of the tale meant a too speedy end, no-time-for-new-milk-sorry-lady-the-kitchen-is-closed!
The saccharine final sip shouldn’t be that disastrous, but often it’s our last taste of food or drink that decides how we feel about a meal.
The Ugly: The Cover. Oh, the cover…
We’ve all been there. We’re wandering through a bookstore, or maybe aimlessly searching suggestions, looking at random lists on Amazon.com for something to read. Happily, we traipse through booktopias convinced that we’re going to find something wonderful to read and then… We are greeted with this:
Before I begin, I feel I must point out one very simple fact:
Most authors get absolutely no input in their covers, or, if they do, it’s mostly a kind of courtesy. Publishers rule. Authors weep and hope for reprints.
Challenge accepted. Unleashing Mockery… SINGLE RELEASE AND COMPILATION COVERS!!!
Forgive the cover artists, for they know not what they do.
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