When a baker meets the bookshop owner of her dreams, and he turns into her nemesis, they’ll both have to read between the lines to avoid a career-ending recipe for disaster.
Max Boyson looks good...from a distance. But up close and personal, the tattooed hottie Joelle Prima has been crushing on for the past year and half has turned into the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by his delectable cover.
When she first learned about the massive renovation to the building they share, Joelle imagined that temporarily combining her Filipino bakery with Max’s neighboring bookstore would be the perfect opening chapter to their happily ever after. In her fantasies they fed each other bibingka and pandesal while discussing Jane Austen and cooing over her pet hamster, Pumpkin. Reality, however...is quite different. Her gallant prince turned out to be a stubborn toad who snaps at her in front of customers, dries his wet clothes in her oven, and helps himself to the yummy pastries in her display case without asking.
But beneath Max’s grumpy glares, Joelle senses a rising heat—and a softening heart. And when they discover the real reason for the renovation, they’ll have to put both their business senses and their feelings for each other to the test.
Smith's cute but flawed latest (after On Location) takes the grumpy/sunshine trope a bit too far, pairing a refreshing heroine with an over-the-top hero who is saved from being entirely boorish by his adorable rescue animals. Joelle Prima gave up culinary school to support her family, but she's finally living her dream: baking delectable French and Filipino pastries in her own Portland, Ore., bakery. Her regulars include Max Boyson, the dreamy owner of the bookstore with which Joelle's bakery shares a building. The pair exchange some flirtatious smiles and one incandescently hot near hookup when she delivers him some treats—but Max backs off both emotionally and physically when their businesses are unexpectedly asked to share a much smaller space as the building undergoes renovation. Each is underfoot as they work to save their stores, but Max drying his clothes in Joelle's oven and eating her inventory without asking strains credulity and diminishes his appeal. Over time, Joelle and Max peel back each other's layers to discover what makes the other tick, and Smith eventually develops Max into the lovable guy Joelle deserves. Despite some hiccups here, Smith's fans will find plenty to enjoy. Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary.