Sam Rigby is driving into the town of Aster Valley to visit with friends when he sees a man being chased by the side of the road. Fortunately, Sam manages to scare off the pursuer who is after Truman Sweet, and Sam can’t help but note that Truman is totally adorable. It turns out that Truman owns the local spice store, as well as a nearby farm where he grows plants, and he also knows Sam’s friends, Mikey and Tiller. That gives Sam a chance to get to know the shy, slightly geeky, and completely charming man.
Truman moved back to Aster Valley after his beloved aunt left him her shop and farm. Truman’s family had moved away when he was a kid after the ski resort went out of business and everyone blamed a 5-year-old Truman for the resort’s financial trouble. Now he is back in town, but it is clear that not everyone is happy about it, particularly the Stanner family, who have been making it their mission to make him miserable. Between beating him up, “accidents” around town, and other threats, Truman is having trouble finding any peace.
As Sam and Truman get to know one another better, they have an almost instant connection. Truman appreciates that while Sam is caring and doting, giving Truman whatever he needs, he also treats Truman like a grown man and respects his need to stand up for himself. And for Sam, Truman provides unconditional support and caring in a way he doesn’t get from his own demanding family. Sam was only supposed to be in town for a few days vacation, but as he spends more time in Aster Valley, he begins to realize that the town — and Truman — might be in his future.
Sweet as Honey is the second book in Lucy Lennox’s delightful Aster Valley series (third if you count the prequel novella). I am finding myself totally charmed by this small town series, filled with found family and slightly oddball side characters. There is so much warmth here, with a nice dash of sexiness thrown in. This story features new MCs in Sam and Truman, but Tiller and Mikey from Right as Raine play a big side role, as Mikey is Sam’s best friend and he is staying with them. So from a plot perspective, all you need is explained here, but from the character end, I do think this one is richer having read the first book.
This story is pretty character driven, mostly focused on Sam and Truman and their developing relationship. I am a sucker for the big, gruff guy who falls for the sweet and sunshiney one, and this is a great example of that trope. Truman is adorable and full of life and he totally charms Sam almost despite himself. Truman is fairly young and he has been threatened quite a bit, not to mention that he has some secrets that no one wants to listen to him tell. On top of that, his ex treats him like a child who needs coddling and it drives Truman nuts. So what I most loved about this one is how Sam is that solid strength that gives Truman love and support and the knowledge that someone is in his corner. But at the same time, Sam doesn’t try to fight Truman’s battles and he always treats Truman as if he is capable of handling his own life. I also liked how Truman gives Sam support as well, particularly after Sam’s family does nothing but burden him with demands and offers him no support in return. These guys are such an endearing couple and I just loved them together.
The story also has a mild suspense element as Truman deals with the threats against him and they try to uncover what is going on. Between the corrupt sheriff’s department, the Stanner family’s vengeance, as well as other threats, it is clear that there is a lot going on and things get untangled over the course of the story. This is not high suspense by any means, but it provides some backbone to the overall plot to balance the relationship side of things. I definitely saw what was happening earlier than probably intended, but I still enjoyed this aspect of the story, particularly how it all ties up.
I do feel like the story ends without totally closing all the loose ends, however. I feel like things end somewhat unresolved with Sam’s family and I kept expecting we would circle back to them at some point, but that never happens. He takes some definitive action, but I felt like it needed some final moments of attention. This story also jumps ahead to the new MC in the epilogue (much like Right as Raine did), which is fun in that we get the POV from the next lead, as well as a hint about what is to come. But it did leave Sam and Truman’s story feeling like it didn’t get that last bit of closure I wanted before we moved onto the next story.
Overall, however, I found this one totally delightful and I am really enjoying this series. It has a great found family feel, as well as a charming small town and great characters. I am really looking forward to the next book!