Sweet Talk (Bakery Sisters Series #1)

( 121 )

Overview

Is there anything sweeter than first love?

Don't ask Claire Keyes. The twenty-eight-year-old piano prodigy has never had a regular boyfriend, much less a real romance. Her music career has left little room for friends or family—which is just part of the reason she hasn't seen the family bakery or her two sisters in years.

But now Nicole is sick, and Jesse is AWOL. Despite the fact that Claire can't boil water, she's determined to play ...

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Overview

Is there anything sweeter than first love?

Don't ask Claire Keyes. The twenty-eight-year-old piano prodigy has never had a regular boyfriend, much less a real romance. Her music career has left little room for friends or family—which is just part of the reason she hasn't seen the family bakery or her two sisters in years.

But now Nicole is sick, and Jesse is AWOL. Despite the fact that Claire can't boil water, she's determined to play caretaker. Connecting with her sisters tops her to-do list…along with falling in love, or at least in lust, for the first time.

Ruggedly sexy Wyatt just might fit the bill. Although he keeps saying that he and Claire come from entirely different worlds, he lights up hotter than a bakery oven whenever Claire is near. If this keeps up, she just might sweet—talk him into her bed…and her life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373772971
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Series: Bakery Sisters Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.94 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Mallery
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for emotionally complex stories told with charm and wit. Susan has lived all over the United States, including a childhood in the suburbs of Los Angeles, graduate school in the hills of Pennsylvania and several years in Texas. These days, she makes her home in Seattle, Washington. She's there for the coffee, not the weather.
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Read an Excerpt

Claire Keyes jumped to answer the phone when it rang, deciding an angry call from her manager was more appealing than sorting the pile of dirty clothes in the middle of her living room.

"Hello?"

"Hi. Um, Claire? It's Jesse."

Not her manager, Claire thought, relieved. "Jesse who?"

"Your sister."

Claire kicked aside a blouse and sank onto the sofa. "Jesse?" she breathed. "It's really you?"

"Uh-huh. Surprise."

Surprise didn't begin to describe it. Claire hadn't seen her baby sister in years. Not since their father's funeral when she'd tried to connect with all the family she had left only to be told that she wasn't welcome, would never be welcome and that if she was hit by a bus, neither Jesse nor Nicole, Claire's fraternal twin, would bother to call for help.

Claire still remembered being so stunned by the verbal attack that she'd actually stopped breathing. She'd felt as if she'd been beaten up and left on the side of the road. Jesse and Nicole were her family. How could they reject her like that?

Not knowing what else to do, she'd left town and never returned. That had been seven years ago.

"So," Jesse said with a cheer that seemed forced. "How are you?"

Claire shook her head, trying to clear it, then glanced at the messy apartment. There were dirty clothes piled thigh-high in her living room, open suitcases by the piano, a stack of mail she couldn't seem to face and a manager ready to skin her alive if that would get her to do what she wanted.

"I'm great," she lied. "And you?"

"Too fabulous for words. But here's the thing. Nicole isn't."

Claire tightened her grip on the phone. "What's wrong with her?"

"Nothing…yet. She's going to have surgery. Her gallbladder. There's something weird about the placement or whatever. I can't remember. Anyway, she can't have that easy surgery with the tiny incisions. The lapi-something."

"Laparoscopic," Claire murmured absently, eyeing the clock. She was due at her lesson in thirty minutes.

"That one. Instead, they're going to be slicing her open like a watermelon, which means a longer recovery time. With the bakery and all, that's a problem. Normally I'd step in to help, but I can't right now. Things are…complicated. So we were talking and Nicole wondered if you would like to come back home and take care of things. She would really appreciate it."

Home, Claire thought longingly. She could go home. Back to the house she barely remembered but that had always placed so large in her dreams.

"I thought you and Nicole hated me," she whispered, wanting to hope but almost afraid to.

"We were upset before. It was an emotional time. Seriously, we've been talking about getting in touch with you for a while now. Nicole would have, um, called herself, but she's not feeling well and she was afraid you'd say no. She's not in a place to handle that right now."

Claire stood. "I would never say no. Of course I'll come home. I really want to. You're my family. Both of you."

"Great. When can you get here?"

Claire looked around at the disaster that was her life and thought about the angry calls from Lisa, her manager. There was also the master class she was supposed to attend and the few she had to teach at the end of the week.

"Tomorrow," she said firmly. "I can be there tomorrow."

"Just shoot me now," Nicole Keyes said as she wiped down the kitchen counters. "I mean it, Wyatt. You must have a gun. Do it. I'll write a note saying it's not your fault."

"Sorry. No guns at my house."

None in hers, either, she thought glumly, then tossed the dishcloth back into the sink.

"The timing couldn't be worse for my stupid surgery," she muttered. "They're telling me I can't go back to work for six weeks. Six. The bakery isn't going to run itself. And don't you dare say anything about me asking Jesse. I mean it, Wyatt."

Her soon-to-be-ex-brother-in-law held up both hands. "Not a word from me. I swear."

She believed him. Not because she thought she frightened him but because she knew he understood that while some of the pain in her gut came from an inflamed gallbladder, most of it was about her sister Jesse's betrayal.

"I hate this. I hate my body turning on me this way. What have I ever done to it?"

Wyatt pushed out a chair at the table. "Sit. Getting upset isn't going to help."

"You don't actually know that."

"I can guess."

She plopped into the chair because it was easier than fighting. Sometimes, like now, she wondered if she had any fight left in her.

"What am I forgetting?" she asked. "I think I've gotten everything done. You remembered that I can't take care of Amy for a while, right?"

Amy was his eight-year-old daughter. Nicole looked after her a few afternoons a week.

Wyatt leaned forward and put his hand on her forearm. "Relax," he told her. "You didn't forget anything. I'll look in on the bakery every couple of days. You've got good people working for you. They love you and are loyal. Everything will be fine.You'll be home in a few days and you can start healing."

She knew he meant from more than just the surgery. There was also the issue of her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Instead of thinking about that bastard Drew, she stared at Wyatt's hand on her arm. He had big hands— scarred and callused. He was a man who knew how to work for a living. Honest, good-looking, funny.

She raised her gaze to his dark eyes. "Why couldn't I have fallen in love with you?" she asked.

He smiled. "Back at you, kid."

They would have been so perfect together…if only there had been a hint of chemistry.

"We should have tried harder," she muttered. "We should have slept together."

"Just think about it for a minute," he told her. "Tell me if it turns you on."

"I can't." Honestly, thinking about having sex with Wyatt kind of set her teeth on edge, and not in a good way. He was too much like a brother. If only his stepbrother, Drew, had caused the same reaction.

Unfortunately with him, there had been fireworks. The kind that burned.

She pulled back and studied Wyatt. "Enough about me. You should get married again."

He reached for his mug of coffee. "No, thanks."

"Amy needs a mother."

"Not that badly."

"There are great women out there."

"Name one that isn't you."

Nicole thought for a minute, then sighed. "Can I get back to you on that?"

Claire arrived at the SeaTac Airport early in the afternoon, feeling very smug about making her own travel arrangements. She'd even booked a car for herself. Normally she would have used a car service, but she would have to drive back and forth to the hospital, then to the bakery. Nicole might need her to run errands. Wheels of her own made sense.

After wrestling her two very large suitcases off the baggage claim belt, she grabbed one in each hand and dragged them toward the escalator. The catwalk to the parking garage was long and the bags heavy. She was breathing hard by the time she reached a bank of elevators she had to take down to the rental car place. By the time she got to the Hertz office, she was regretting the long wool coat she'd shrugged on. Sweat trickled down her back, making her cashmere sweater stick to her.

She waited in line, excited about being here, nervous and filled with resolve to do whatever it took to reconnect with her sisters. They were being given a second chance. She wasn't going to blow it.

The woman at the counter waved her forward. Claire dragged the two suitcases along as she approached.

"Hi. I have a reservation."

"Name?"

"Claire Keyes." Claire handed over her driver's license and her platinum credit card.

The woman studied the driver's license. "Do you have insurance or do you want coverage on the car?"

"I'll take your coverage." It was easier than explaining that she didn't own a car and had, in fact, never owned a car. The only reason she had a driver's license at all was because she'd insisted on lessons when she'd turned eighteen and had studied and practiced until she'd passed the test.

"Any tickets or accidents?" the woman asked.

Claire smiled. "Not one." Getting a ticket or an accident would require actual driving. Something Claire hadn't done more than once or twice in the past ten years.

There were a couple of forms to sign, then the woman handed back the license and credit card.

"Number sixty-eight. It's a Malibu. You said midsize. I can get you something bigger, if you want."

Claire blinked at her. "Number sixty-eight what?"

"Your car. It's in slot sixty-eight. The keys are inside."

"Oh, great. I'll pass on something bigger."

"Okay. You need a map?"

"Yes, please."

Claire tucked the map into her purse, then dragged her suitcases out of the glass structure. She saw rows of cars and numbers at the end of each parking space. Counting as she went, she found number sixty-eight and stared at the silver Malibu.

It had four doors and looked huge. She swallowed. Was she really going to drive? A question for later, she told herself. First she had to get out of the parking lot.

Challenge number one turned out to be getting her luggage into the trunk. There didn't seem to be any way to open it. No buttons, no knobs. She pushed and pulled, but it wouldn't budge. Finally she gave up and maneuvered her two big bags into the backseat. Then she slid behind the wheel.

It took her a couple of minutes to get the seat moved up so she could actually reach the pedals. She managed to get the key in the ignition and turned it. The engine caught immediately. Claire carefully adjusted her mirrors, then drew in a breath. She was practically on her way.

Next she turned to the GPS system. It greeted her in French.

Claire stared at it. What on earth?

She pushed a few buttons. Yup, it was speaking French. Okay, sure, she also spoke the language, but not well enough to deal with it while driving. The potential to freak while on the road seemed big enough without adding a foreign language to the mix.

She punched buttons until she'd scrolled through Dutch and Japanese. Finally she heard the pleasant female voice in English.

The need to run screaming into the night faded slightly.

She continued reading the instruction card, then carefully punched in the address of the bakery. She'd forgotten to ask Jesse for the name of the hospital where Nicole would have her surgery, so the bakery seemed like the best place to start. Finally, she braced herself to drive out of the space.

Her chest was tight. She ignored that, along with the prickling that started on her back and moved over her whole body.

Not now, she thought frantically. Not now. She could panic later, when she wasn't about to drive.

She closed her eyes and breathed, pictured her sister lying in a hospital bed, in desperate need of help. That's where she needed to be, she reminded herself. With Nicole.

The sense of panic faded a little. She opened her eyes and began her journey.

The parking structure seemed dark and closed. Fortunately there weren't any cars in the row in front of her, so she would have extra room to turn as she drove out.

Slowly, carefully, she put the car in Drive. It started to move right away. She jammed her foot on the brake. The whole car jerked. She eased up on the brake and it moved again. Moving six or eight inches at a time, she managed to make it out of her space. Fifteen minutes later she'd made her way out of the parking structure and onto the road that led out of the airport.

"In five hundred feet, stay to the right. I-5 is on the right."

The voice from the GPS system was very commanding, as if it knew Claire was totally clueless about driving in general and where she was going in particular.

"I-5 what?" Claire asked before she saw a sign for the I-5 freeway. She shrieked. "I can't go on the freeway," she told the GPS. "We need to go on regular streets."

There was a ding. "Stay to the right."

"But I don't want to."

She looked around frantically, but there didn't seem to be any other way to go. The road she was on just sort of eased into the freeway. She couldn't move to her left—there were too many cars in her way. Cars that suddenly started going really, really fast.

Claire clutched the steering wheel with both hands, her body stiff, her mind filled with images of fiery crashes.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 121 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(46)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(6)

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(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 122 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    great

    Absolutely fantastic. Finished it in a few hours and loved every minute reading this

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    Fast but Great

    I read this book in one day. It was a good story with a lot of family dynamics and internal conflicts that made it intriguing but not so much that it was complicated or got the reader bogged down. I thought there were some far fetched things (like a 28 year old who didn't know anything about sex) but that was overshadowed by the well-written plot and dynamic characters. My only fault with the book is that the ending was a little abrupt (quick). I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    well....

    I really like Susan Mallery. Falling for gracie was a really wonderful book, but Sweet Talk was not that great of a read for me. I found myself getting into the story and starting to think yes now the plots getting better but it just fell short! Also everyone was so horrible and mean! I couldn't even bring myself to like the leading male character, and I mean come on a 28 year old woman who seems to know nothing about sex? I get she travels the world and so on but hello???? It was a bit farfetched for me. Sorry I do like her other books though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Is Wyatt at the Top of Claire's To-Do List?!

    Susan Mallery has done it again. I love her new Sweet trilogy! Sweet Talk introduces us to the 3 sisters and some of the secondary characters. Claire Keyes is our heroine and she is so sweet! Claire is a world famous concert pianist and has been all over the world playing her music. She was a child prodigy, at 3 she picked out a tune after seeing and hearing her first piano, at 6 she and her grandmother were sent to New York City so she could study under the greats. Now at 28 she has come home to Seattle to take care of her fraternal twin after extensive gall bladder surgery. She was called by her younger sister, Jesse, who said she was unable to take care of Nicole and she needed to be taken care of. Claire hasn't been home since her father died some years earlier. At the time Nicole and Jesse said they didn't need or want her around! So the call from Jesse was a surprise but a good one. Her twin, Nicole, is under the impression that Claire is a spoiled and needy woman so is surprised to see her there ready to take care of her and the bakery that has been in the family since their grandparents opened it years before. Nicole is a real witch with a B, most of the time but Claire has decided that now is the time to be a family and she wants to show Nicole that she cares and wants a relationship with her and Jesse. Claire has a to-do list included in it is 'fall in love' as she's never had a boyfriend--no time for one! She didn't mean to fall in love with Wyatt, Nicole's good friend, but she did. What a relationship they have!! Wyatt has an 8 y.o. daughter that Claire falls in love with too! Good book and we watch the characters, the sisters, grow and learn to love each other again. Oh yes and a delicious recipe too!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a fine contemporary romance.

    The Keyes sisters are estranged from one another or at least with Claire since their dad¿s funeral several years ago. However, Jesse calls her sibling renowned pianist Claire to tell her Nicole is undergoing gallbladder surgery and will need help since she will be recuperating for six weeks and her bakery has apparently shut. Claire sees this as an opportunity to make up with her fraternal sis and agrees.----------- However, in Seattle, Claire learns that Jesse and Nicole are not talking to each other and that her ailing sibling does not want her here. Claire ignores Nicole¿s protest. When Claire meets Nicole¿s friend Wyatt Knight an attraction surfaces immediately. However, neither wants to pursue their desires because she is in town for Nicole so feels strongly she must reject any intrusions including a loving one and he has been burned in his previous relationships--------------- The battling Keyes sisters are as dysfunctional siblings as one will find short of fratricide each has what they perceive is a legitimate gripe against her siblings. In fact it is the interrelationships between the trio that is the key to this fine emotional tale. Even the romance between Claire and Wyatt, though well done, takes a back seat to the war as Nicole feels her close friend is betraying her by his attraction to her enemy sister. Susan Mallery provides a powerful passionate backdrop to a fine contemporary romance.------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    Excellent read!

    I read this book in 24 hours. Loved it...the characters and all!

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  • Posted March 29, 2012

    This story took me through a myriad of emotions...At the beginni

    This story took me through a myriad of emotions...At the beginning of the book, I hated Nicole and felt so bad for Claire, yet was astounded by how incompetent a 28 y.o was in living amongst "real" people doing everyday things like driving and laundry. Later on I hated Jesse and Wyatt too eventually. Susan Mallery sure does right dysfunction well! This was no sweet superficial romance. These characters were broken, yet redeemable and endearing. Great start to a series and I look forward to reading Nicole and Jesse's stories as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Fabulous !!!

    I love Susan Mallery. This series is one of my favorites. She has sister dynamics down to a science and you can smell the cinnamon and vanilla in the bakery. A great read.

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  • Posted March 15, 2012

    Recommend this series

    Very interesting book really enjoyed the series!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Pretty Good

    This is a great quick read but pretty cheesy at times. It is also quite predictable. Still, though, not a bad book. It has really likeable characters who experience growth and maturation which pushes it along. Some of it seems a bit rushed also, particularly at the end. If you like this genre then I would recommend it for a light read. I will be reading the other two books in the series for sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Really liked it. It was a smooth read.

    Doesn't get 5 starts because the arguing between the sisters doesn't seem realistic sometimes. There would be more yelling and screaming, or at least smuggness. But it was a really easy read and I like the guys in he series.

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  • Posted November 22, 2011

    Recommended

    Very funny and enjoyable!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    Good Book

    It was my first book by Susan Mallery and after reading it I had to get the other two in the series! It was a quick read and it was predictable but still worth it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved It

    Was my first book by Susan Mallery and I loved it. Finished off this whole series in a few days. Will be buying more from this author.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Enjoyed this book

    Going to read the other two books in the series!

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    different

    this is amazing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    very cute

    must read all in series

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Eh...

    Cute trilogy. Its a very light read. The bubblegum side of the romance section.

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  • Posted January 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the Best!

    I am a fan of romance trilogies and I have to say this is one (if not THE) best I've every read. This series cements Susan Mallery as a must read author for me. The characters are well-rounded (one minute you hate them the next minute you love them)and the plot never gets boring. I read all three in two days. Truly wonderful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2008

    Sweet and Sexy

    This was my first Susan Mallery read and now I've added to cart the rest of the Bakery Sisters series. Sweet Talk was so hard to put down I finished reading it in 2 days with studying and work in between! The feuding story of the sisters was a great connection to read with the sizzling romance between Claire Keyes and Wyatt. I can't wait to see what the rest of the series will bring about the Keyes sisters.

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