Riley’s been a bad brother. After selling his business and traveling the world, he returns to the little village where his sister, Emily, and her daughter, Maisie, live. Now, Riley wants to make things right. On his way to Em’s house, he stops in a little bakery to get something sweet for them. It’s there he meets Zac, the baker. Zac knows Em and Maisie, and he’s able to let Riley know what cakes are their favorites. As Riley’s stay in the village lengthens, it’s obvious he has to find a place to live because he and Em love each other very much, but they’ve gotten on each other’s last nerves. It just so happens there’s a flat above the bakery, and Zac rents it to him.
Riley was terribly bullied in school by a boy named Aaron. He still has panic attacks thanks to that period in his life. Imagine his surprise when he sees Aaron’s car in the village. Now, imagine how much MORE surprised he is when he discovers Aaron is Zac’s boyfriend! Zac’s in love, but Riley is nervous. Zac talks of selling his recipes and moving with Aaron to the big city. None of this is really Zac’s idea, but he feels he owes it to Aaron. When Riley and Aaron finally meet up face to face, Aaron tries to make Riley believe he’s changed…but yeah…not so much.
The next few weeks are difficult because Zac is devoted to Aaron and believes everything he says about Riley. When the truth finally comes to light, will Riley find the courage to stand up to his bully to prevent Aaron from hurting the man he’s grown to love?
I chose Sweet Revenge for the New-to-Me Author Week reading challenge because…well, because I’d not read anything Tilly Keyes has written. In fact, this looks to be the author’s first book. That definitely makes Keyes new to me. Also, I have a soft spot in my heart for stories about bakers…probably due to my love of all things sweet. I also thought this sounded intriguing because of the word “revenge” in the title. I love when a formerly bullied/wronged character hands his tormentor his just…hehe…desserts. I got a nice little book with sweet characters who are relatable, a story that was compelling, and a supporting cast who were a real…treat (Ok…enough with the puns).
From the beginning, I was caught up in the story. Riley, by all accounts, should be happy. He’s got a lot of money and has experienced a lot of life, but he regrets leaving his sister and niece behind. I loved how he wanted to make amends. Along that same line, I enjoyed the banter between him and Emily and how good he was with Maisie. Also, even though they affected him negatively, I felt his childhood traumas helped make him the inherently good man he was.
Zac’s sweetness (Ok…one more pun) charmed me. He loves his work, immediately befriends Riley, and is fiercely loyal to an undeserving Aaron. He charmed me, and I fell for him hook, line, and sinker. I admit to being disappointed in him when he wouldn’t listen to Riley, simply believing Aaron’s lies. In fact, Zac’s reaction felt a little out of character for me. I acknowledge some conflict is necessary to move the story along…especially a story called Sweet Revenge. However, for a little while there, Zac had lost a bit of his polish.
The book’s pacing was steady without feeling rushed. All the chapters had a smooth flow. I was always aware of what was happening without any confusion. The dialogue was sharp and felt like “real” conversation and, as I mentioned, the supporting characters fit right in, playing their roles perfectly. Emily was caring and concerned. Maisie was adorable and precocious, Scarlett was hilarious, and Aaron? Well, he was definitely a mean old jerk!
The ending was exactly as expected. That’s fine, though. Everyone loves a delightful HEA, and Sweet Revenge has that in spades. I enjoyed this book very much, and I highly recommend it.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of FIVE $20 JMS Books bookstore gift cards (you can see the full event prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here.