Trevor Hill knows the biggest secret in the restaurant review world. Well, actually, he is the secret as he is “Mr.Tasty,” the food critic that makes or breaks restaurants and, with Trevor’s scathing words, he mostly breaks them. Trevor doesn’t usually review bakeries, but when he walks into Nana O’Neill’s bakery, his life changes in so many unexpected ways. Owen O’Neill isn’t what Trevor anticipated as the owner of the bakery, and after just a sample of Owen’s baked delights, Trevor is hooked.
Owen works hard every day doing almost everything in the bakery. His past has made him closed off and he doesn’t like dealing with the customers, especially posh Trevor. But paying customers are what Owen needs and while Trevor is often dismissive of Owen’s baking, Owen certainly likes looking at the man. The bakery is barely turning a profit and the equipment is failing more every day until the morning the line to enter the bakery goes around the block. The reason is the glowing review from Mr. Tasty. Owen and Trevor form a tentative friendship as Trevor can’t stay away and Owen looks for him every day. But Trevor can’t take it further because he’s sure that if his secret comes out, he will lose Owen for good.
There is definitely a lot of sweet in this book, as there are plenty of descriptions of Owen’s pastry creations. This is a shorter novel that takes place almost entirely in the bakery. Owen wants to take an instant dislike to Trevor, but there is also something about the man that calls to him. Trevor is startled by Owen’s gruff demeanor at their first meeting, but is also turned on by Owen’s tattoos and muscles.
Owen inherited the money for the bakery from his grandmother and it’s her recipes he creates. The bakery is the only thing Owen ever followed through on as he’s determined not to go back to prison. It’s busy and stressful and while he comes off as rough and gruff, Owen does take care of his one employee and treats her well and Owen’s soft spot is well hidden. Despite all of Owen’s hard work, and despite his delectable creations, the bakery is struggling. Owen doesn’t even have time to think much about the review as the increase in business is staggering.
Trevor knows a few things about business and offers himself up to help Owen in trade for pastries as a way to spend time with the man. Of course, neither realizes that the other is attracted to them and Owen struggles with his self-esteem thinking Trevor is turned off by his scars and his past. For a shorter book, their story is a slower burn and we are told of their attraction more than we see it play out on page for a while. When Trevor’s secret finally comes out, it was certainly unrealistic to expect others caught up in the news to keep it a secret as was shown. Then, for a slower paced book, the ending wrapped up quickly with more pivotal scenes off page.
There are some warm moments in Suspiciously Sweet and if you’re looking for a shorter book set around a bakery and two different men, it may be worth taking a look at this one.