Jules owns a successful bakery and is devoted to his craft, but since the death of his husband he is lonely and sad. Teddy blends into the background in his life as an accountant where he plays by the rules, but outside of work is a lonely place. When Teddy accidentally stumbles into Jules’ bakery, he finds an almost mystical connection to Jules and his pastry.
Jules is attracted to Teddy at first glance through the crack in the kitchen door. But Jules’ self imposed place is firmly in the kitchen behind the closed door and just his attraction to Teddy makes him feel guilty to the memory of his husband. The men begin a slow dance toward each with the help of exquisite pastry, blog comments, and one feisty bakery assistant. But each love story is different and this one has a narrator to guide the reader in the direction that seems fit. The men make mistakes and have real issues to consider, including supernatural visits from the other side, but falling in love can most definitely be sweet.
Every once in a while a book comes along that is not what was expected. Sweet falls into that category for me and I was thoroughly entertained, moved, and riveted during the time I spent with this book. It was not time spent with one specific character, but time spent in their world and a good portion of the book had the same feel as watching a play where it’s the immediate moments that are the most important.
The prose here is filled with many words and feelings and descriptions and colors that are spun to the scent of flour, sugar, and chocolate. The descriptions of the desserts are as decadent as the pastries themselves, which allows for a deep connection to blossom between the men as Jules infuses his passion into his baked goods and the art of baking and sharing those gifts nourishes their souls.
After Teddy has his first taste of Jules’ pastry, he wants to meet the man himself. But Jules rarely comes out from the kitchen and the door is somewhat of a shield to the outside world since his husband died and his kitchen is his safe zone. He describes himself as a “mild-mannered baker and romantically challenged serial monogamist,” but can’t bring himself to even think about a relationship. Teddy stirs his desires again, but there is a hefty dose of guilt he’s wading through as well about moving on.
So when Jules won’t meet him, Teddy starts to communicate through comments on the bakery’s blog that are funny and even funnier than Teddy has been in person, and the men develop a friendship as Jules teaches Teddy how to bake. This is a slow burn romance and it takes time for these guys to figure it all out much to the disbelief of Jules’ assistant who offers comedic relief throughout. Jules also takes to his blog to post about his grandmother, his early baking, his deceased husband, and it’s simultaneously witty, quaint, charming, and achingly tender.
Now I mentioned a narrator earlier and the narrator plays an important role here. The author and the characters start to lead us in one direction, the direction that could be described as a standard arc or trajectory for a romance novel. But the narrator won’t allow that to happen and pulls us back and leads us and directs us toward the path that the narrator wants us to be on. In one moment, the narrator can make us laugh at the silliness of the story of Jules’ former love, while in the next moment cause our feelings to plummet with sadness that the man no longer walks the earth.
The scenes takes place in NYC, but there were times that I had to remind myself of the setting. While the men were not originally from the area, they spoke at times like elderly proper gentleman from another region or even another place in time. They discuss record collections and read paperbacks and while they talk around Jules’ age and at one point laugh at their proper notions leading us to believe they are not, in fact, elderly, their ages were never fully disclosed. The book also moves into a supernatural storyline further in and just as the men do come together they are broken apart once more and the feel of the book shifts once again. I did have mixed feelings on this development as it did take time away from them finally being a couple and then not only did this area not have a true conclusion, but left a haunted tale in its wake.
Whether you like this book will fall on the side of if you like the style and the narrator and the gauzy veil-like feeling that is evident at times. The words are sometimes spun like confection, where the description of a cupcake can be the absolute best passage you will have read all day, and other times spun like heartbreak, and still other times like longing where there are joyous moments of first kisses and peaches. You certainly won’t be able to forget about the peaches and that scene alone is worth the price of admission. Like a special occasion, this book was a fantastic experience and created a special memory. The best I can say is that if you give yourself over to this book it will simply do all of the things that it’s supposed to do.