ARC Review: “A Sweet Mess” by Jayci Lee

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for giving me a free digital copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a quick and easy read that I managed to finish with a day. I was eager to read a sexier NA romance because the two I’ve read previously simply failed to deliver there. While yes, this definitely was a bit more hot and heavy than the others, I still wanted more.

Title: A Sweet Mess
Author: Jayci Lee
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Expected release date: July 14, 2020
Genre: New adult, romance, contemporary
Length: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.”

After Landon and Aubrey’s one-night stand, I was really trying to figure out if the two actually had a connection because the events that followed felt…too cute and too cheesy. Perhaps I felt a little distant because I struggled with Aubrey and Landon as individuals. Not that they aren’t great separately. I can appreciate two people who are career-driven though each for very different reasons but I also thought they seemed a little…bland–a bit two-dimensional. Maybe this stepped from Landon’s “plan to help save her business” didn’t feel concrete enough. Maybe I would have been okay with a little more in this area, too. I do, however, loved the idea of Landon and Aubrey in a villa by themselves while trying to not tear each other’s clothes off because their attraction, I think, was very genuine as the story progresses. There were some moments I thought Aubrey was so bold and tempting, I’m surprised they seriously did not rip each other’s clothes off right then and there, lol.

You can also tell that both Landon and Aubrey are fiercely loyal to those they are close to, something that can be seen in Landon and Aria’s friendship, though that too didn’t feel wholly there. (I do, however, approve of Aria’s ways to bring Landon and Aubrey closer together.)

Then the author introduced an plotline that I just couldn’t really get with. Perhaps because of my own personal preference regarding this subject, but it made me think if Landon and Aubrey would have even chose to remain together if this one thing haven’t happened. I’m not quite convinced but I see slivers of possibility since they did seem to genuinely like each other, though it also seemed like a bit of a whirlwind romance.

Of course, I do love that Landon and Aubrey are both Korean, though I thought I would see a bit more of the at least Aubrey’s parents since the synopsis mentioned her getting “away from her strict Korean parents.” Daddy issues abound for both Landon and Aubrey, let me tell you. I did get a good giggle when we were introduced to Landon’s mom because it was like my own mother and mother-in-law (both of whom are Korean) were speaking to me, lol.

Also, let me just say the good descriptions in this book were to die for (or drool over)! I also thought it was so lovely that Aubrey owned a bakery. That’s like an odd pipe dream for me even though I have no talent whatsoever!

After the ending, I can definitely see a companion novel about two other characters coming out of this series, which I would be interested in reading if it actually did happen. I will say that the last few chapters seemed rush, and the whole book seemed to go by rather quickly but maybe that’s my own fault because I read it fast!

You can pre-order this book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, or find it at your local independent bookstore with IndieBound.

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