Neighbors who care, a peaceful routine--accountant Adeline Lamont is glad some things about her beloved hometown never change. But when her grandfather is injured, she has to run the family store, Chocolate Haven, and make its legendary fudge. Trouble is, she can't get the recipe right to save her life--or Chocolate Haven. And she doesn't need her ornery new tenant, Sinclair Jefferson, stirring up the pot with his help--and daring Addie to taste her wild side…
Once Sinclair gets his hapless brother back on track, he's leaving Benevolence for good this time. He's made his life far away from his irresponsible family and their scandals. Trouble is, he can't quite stay away from Addie's optimism, enticing plus-size curves, and kindness to those who need it most. But they don't seem to have a thing in common--except that Addie's passion for chocolate, and for Benevolence, is just as contagious as Sinclair's passion for her. Maybe small-town life has its charms after all…
Praise for Shirlee McCoy's Apple Valley Novels
"A delicious treat. Don't miss a visit to Apple Valley!" --Emily March, New York Times bestselling author
"Sweet as pie." --Publishers Weekly
"A wonderful, warmhearted story." --RT Book Reviews
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By Shirlee McCoy
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Shirlee McCoy
All rights reserved.
The dress wouldn't zip.
Seeing as how the wedding was ten days away, that was going to be a problem. Adeline Lamont expelled all the air from her lungs and tried again. The zipper inched up her side, every slow, excruciating millimeter reminding her that she had bigger problems than a butt-ugly, too-small, tangerine-colored bridesmaid's dress. The fudge, for one. The chocolate shop, for another. Neither of which was being dealt with while she was trying to shimmy into the most hideous dress she had ever seen.
"Addie!" May Reynolds called from the other side of the bathroom door. "How's it going in there?"
"Peachy," Adeline called back, the zipper finally finding its way home.
The last thing she wanted to do was spend twenty minutes explaining her inability to fit into the dress to May. Too much to do. Too little time.
And now ...
She glanced in the mirror above the sink. Orange. Lots of it. Skin too. Shoulders. Arms. Chest. All of it pasty and white from too many days in Chocolate Haven's kitchen. She needed to get outside, get a little fresh air and a little sun. She'd add that to her list. The one she'd been adding items to all day.
"Addie!" May knocked frantically. Probably with both her wrinkled fists. "Please tell me it fits! I don't have time to alter it. I barely had time to make it!"
"I wish you hadn't," Addie muttered, tugging at the huge ruffle that drooped over her chest and fluttered to a stop somewhere in the region of her stomach.
"What's that, dear?" May yelled, her voice edged with panic. The poor woman would have heart failure if Addie didn't open the blasted door.
Then again ...
Addie eyed the white flesh burgeoning out of the bodice of the dress.
... she might have heart failure when she got a look at Addie squeezed into the dress.
A lose-lose situation any way Addie cut it, so she opened the door and stepped into the narrow hall that led from the front of the shop to the kitchen.
It smelled like chocolate. Vanilla. Maybe a hint of the blood, sweat, and tears she'd been pouring into the place since Granddad had broken his hip and femur. She gagged, but managed to keep down the sixteen pounds of fudge she'd consumed while taste-testing batch after batch of Lamont family fudge.
God! If she ever ate another piece of fudge again, it would be way, way too soon!
"Dear God in heaven!" May breathed. She stood just a few feet away, hands clasped together, her blue-white hair a little wild. "You have breasts!"
Addie would have laughed if the dress hadn't squeezed all the air from her lungs.
"Most women do," she managed to say, her head swimming from lack of oxygen or, maybe, too much sugar and too little real food. When was the last time she'd eaten a meal? Two days ago? Three?
"Not Alice," May huffed. "Your grandmother was reed slim. She wore clothes beautifully. Didn't matter what, she looked good in it."
"I am not my grandmother," Addie pointed out. And even she wouldn't look good in this dress, she nearly added.
"You're standing in for her at my wedding, dear," May responded, tugging at the bodice of the dress, trying desperately to get it to cover a little more of Addie's flesh.
Wasn't going to happen, but Adeline let her try. Just like she'd let her insist that Adeline be maid of honor at her wedding since Alice had passed away five years before the big day. Sure, Adeline would be the only under-thirty member of the wedding party, but she loved May. She'd loved Alice. For them, she'd stand at the front of Benevolence Baptist Church wearing a skintight tangerine dress. She just hoped to God that Randal Custard didn't decide to do a human interest story on the event. Sure, it was cool that May had found true love at seventy-six years old. Sure, it was wonderful that she was finally getting married after so many decades of longing for marital bliss.
What would not be cool or wonderful would be a picture of Addie plastered across the front page of the Benevolence Times, her fudge-stuffed body encased in tangerine satin! Since she'd turned down Randal's dinner invitations seven times in the past month, it might just happen.
"May," she finally said, the thought of Randal and his camera and that picture souring her mood more than the last mediocre-tasting batch of family fudge had. "The dress isn't going to cover any more than it's already covering."
"But I measured you," May responded, giving the bodice one last tug. "And I never measure wrong."
"I may have gained a pound or two since I took over the shop for Granddad." Or ten, but who was counting? "I'll lose it before the wedding."
"Promise?" May asked, her lined face caked with powder, her drawn-on eyebrows giving her a perpetual look of surprise. She'd always been a little high-strung, a little nervous. The exact opposite of Adeline's grandmother, who'd been calm in the face of crisis, reasonable in the face of difficulty.
"Of course," Adeline assured her.
What else could she do?
"All right. I guess we'll just make it work," May said, probably channeling someone she'd seen on some sewing or fashion show. She'd been a home economics teacher at Benevolence High for nearly thirty years, had owned a fabric shop right next to Chocolate Haven up until a month ago. For as long as Adeline could remember, May had been obsessed with fashion.
Too bad that obsession had never translated into a good sense of style.
Unique was more the word for it.
Or atrocious, horrible, dated.
Adeline could think of a dozen other words, but it was late, she was tired, and the kitchen needed a thorough scrubbing before she left for the day.
"Of course we'll make it work." She cupped May's elbow and urged her toward the front of the shop. "The wedding is going to be beautiful. Every last detail of it."
"How could it not be?" May raised her chin a half inch. "I've planned every last detail. Every flower, every bow, every song."
Every word that Jim and I shall speak during our vows. Every strain of music that shall play during the reception, Adeline added, mentally repeating the spiel she'd heard dozens and dozens of times.
Scrooge, her better-self whispered.
She was a scrooge. She could admit that.
But ... doggone it! She was an accountant. Not a chocolatier. Not a shopkeeper. Not a master creator of the coveted Lamont fudge. After nearly three weeks of trying and failing to be those things, she was getting grumpy.
The too-tight tangerine dress wasn't helping things.
Poor May wasn't either. She meant well. Addie knew she did, but May had a habit of making mountains out of mole hills and creating drama everywhere she went.
"I know you have," Addie soothed as she bypassed the glass display cases that had been in the shop since the doors opened in 1911. She'd already stocked them for the following day — chocolate bonbons in beautiful foil wrappers, milk chocolate truffles with cocoa powder dusted over them, chocolate mint bars, chocolate mallow cups. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.
It's what the Lamonts did.
Only it didn't seem to be what Adeline could do.
Sure, the chocolate was there, but the fudge was missing, and that was the thing that had put Chocolate Haven on the map.
May must have noticed the full display cases. She paused next to them, leaning in to study the goods, her left eye twitching. She was going to ask about the wedding favors, because that was how May was.
Please don't ask, Adeline willed, but May's mouth opened and out it came.
"How are the wedding favors coming along?"
"Great," Adeline lied. Truth? She'd made twenty of the five hundred chocolate hearts May had ordered. She'd had to toss every last one of them, because what should have been a beautiful high-sheen chocolate exterior had been rough, dull, and bumpy.
"Oh! Wonderful!" May's surprised eyebrows lifted a notch. "I'd love to see them. How about —"
"I've got so much work to do, May, and I know you're busy with wedding preparations," Adeline said, cutting her off. "How about we wait until I have a few more to show you? I've only done the milk chocolate, and you wanted dark chocolate and white chocolate as well. I'll put together a little sampler for you one day this week."
"Well, I ..." May glanced toward the kitchen. "Are you sure they're turning out okay?"
"Absolutely certain," Adeline said with so much emphasis, her chest nearly popped from the dress.
"Good, because I can't have anything go wrong." May reached out, yanked at the tangerine ruffle. The dress didn't move. "Not one thing."
"The favors will be perfect," Adeline assured her. "And I'll jog every night from now until the wedding."
"You may need to run," May murmured, releasing her hold on the dress. "Or sprint. That might work."
"Sure. Sprint. Sounds good." Adeline wasn't even sure she could manage a jog. It had been a while since she'd had any kind of fitness routine. A while meaning years. She'd try, though. Because there was no way on God's green earth she was standing in front of five hundred of May and Jim's closest friends, looking like an overstuffed orange sausage!
"Okay. Good." May offered a wan smile. "Now, I really have to get going. Doris Linder is creating a special updo for me and the wedding party. I'm going to have her do a trial style on me tonight."
"Doris?" Addie hoped she'd heard wrong. Doris had been doing hair in Benevolence, Washington, for longer than Addie had been alive. Maybe longer than May had been alive.
"Who else would I have chosen?" May patted her hair. "She does a wonderful beehive."
"Your hair is too short for a beehive."
"Have you never heard of extensions?" May stepped outside, cold February wind ruffling her short locks. "The other ladies and I will have them. Your hair is plenty long enough to do without."
Thank God for that, Addie wanted to say.
She kept her scrooge-mouth shut.
May hiked her purse a little higher onto her shoulder and picked her way across the sidewalk that separated the shop from the street. She'd parked at the curb, her gold Cadillac gleaming beneath the streetlight.
"I'll call you tomorrow," she said as she climbed into the car. "To see how the weight loss is going and set up a time to see the favors."
"You do that," Addie said as she let the door swing closed, locked it, and flicked off the light.
Now maybe she'd be left alone. To get out of the dress. To clean the kitchen. To close out the register so that she could finally go home to the puppy she'd adopted four months ago.
He was probably miserable penned up in Nehemiah Shoemaker's back room. It had been sweet of her neighbor to offer to take care of the puppy while Addie helped her grandfather, but Nehemiah was nearly ninety and Tiny was too big for him to handle. The two of them spent most of their time in Nehemiah's family room, watching reruns of Hogan's Heroes and I Love Lucy. Nehemiah seemed to enjoy Tiny's company, but the puppy needed some time to play outside. If Adeline had known that Granddad was going to break his hip and femur ...
But she hadn't, so she'd adopted a puppy because she'd been just a little lonely in her 1920s bungalow.
"It will be okay," she told herself. "Just get out of the stupid dress and get back to checking things off the list. Go through it one item at a time until you finish. And you will finish. Eventually."
She tugged halfheartedly at the zipper. It didn't move. She tugged a little harder. Nothing. She scowled, sucking in her gut and yanking the zipper with all her might as she walked into the kitchen.
Something gave. She yanked the dress around so the zipper was in the front, eyeing the damage. The top part of the zipper held fast, but the middle section had opened to reveal an inch of pasty white skin.
Holy heck, she'd busted the thing!
And now she was stuck. An overstuffed sausage in synthetic orange casing. She'd have to cut herself out and replace the zipper. Good thing she'd taken two years of May's home economics class. She knew how to take out a zipper and how to replace one. What she didn't know was how to get out of the mess she'd gotten herself into when she'd agreed to take over Chocolate Haven for her grandfather.
She stalked to the whiteboard that hung near the back door, snagged a dry-erase marker from a drawer, and scrawled Fix zipper across the bottom of a list she'd been working on all day.
She probably should have written Go for a jog beneath that, but she didn't have the heart to.
The thing was, she'd left her house before dawn, had been shut inside Chocolate Haven all day, smelling chocolate, eating chocolate, serving customers chocolate, and trying her best to recreate some facsimile of her family's fudge. The last thing she wanted to do was jog off ten pounds of extra weight so that she could fit into May's god-awful choice of a bridesmaid's dress. As a matter of fact, right at that moment, all she wanted to do was go home.
She grabbed her faded blue jeans and soft gray T-shirt from the bathroom and searched for scissors. There were none in her grandfather's tiny office. None in the front of the shop. Which left the kitchen. Several batches of discarded fudge sat on the counter there. The last and final batch lay in the sink, the scissors she'd used to try to hack it from the pan sticking out of the rock-solid mess.
She didn't dare get within a foot of it. If she got chocolate on the dress, May would never forgive her.
She bypassed the sink and walked out the back door. The stairs to Granddad's apartment were there, pressed up against the side of the brick building. An empty parking lot lay in front of her, separating the row of brownstones from a public green. Addie and her sisters had spent hours playing there when they were kids.
That had been before everything else.
Before Dad died.
Before Willow had gone quiet and secretive.
Before Brenna had decided Benevolence was the worst place in the world to grow up.
Before their family that had once been close and loving and wonderful had turned into four people going four separate ways.
She jogged up the stairs, metal clanging under her feet. She fished the spare key out from under the potted plant on the landing, had barely touched the knob, when the door creaked open.
Surprised, she peered into the apartment, eyeing the shadowy furniture and the oversized TV they'd bought Granddad for Christmas. That would probably be the first thing a thief would go for. Not that there were many thieves in Benevolence.
She stepped into the silent apartment and flicked on the light. Granddad should be there, sitting on his plaid sofa, eating chips and salsa and watching The Price Is Right. Instead, he was lying in a hospital bed, waiting for the doctors to decide if he was going to need a third surgery on his leg. The thought left a hollow ache in the region of her heart.
From her position, she could see down the narrow hall that led to two bedrooms, a bathroom, and small office. Despite the unlocked door, the apartment looked untouched, the empty feel of it reassuring.
"There's no one here," she said aloud.
A door slammed, the sound so jarring, she screamed — probably loud enough to wake the dead — and took off, her jeans and T-shirt falling from her arms as she ran.
* * *
Sinclair Jefferson had seen a lot of things in his thirty-four years of living, but he'd never seen anything quite like the woman who was barreling toward him. Body encased in a skintight orange thing that could have been a dress or a costume, she sprinted down exterior metal steps as if all the demons of hell were chasing her.
If she saw him, she didn't let on.
As a matter of fact, if she kept coming at the pace she was, she'd crash into him. He stepped to the side, pulling his real estate agent, Janelle Lamont, with him.
"Watch it," he cautioned.
"How can I not? It's like a train wreck. I can't look away," Janelle murmured, her attention focused on the orange-encased lunatic who skidded to a stop in front of them.
"Mom!" the lunatic yelled. "There's someone in Granddad's apartment."
This had to be one of the Lamont sisters, then.
Excerpted from Sweet Haven by Shirlee McCoy. Copyright © 2016 Shirlee McCoy. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Lamont family chocolate store, Chocolate Haven is in danger. When the patriarch of the family breaks his leg, one of his three granddaughters, Adeline (Addie) steps in to make the chocolate until he recovers. She is the only of the three sisters who has not fled small town Benevolence, Washington for the lights of the big city. At the same time, Sinclair Jefferson has returned to town to help his brother get back on his feet after a disaster in life. He also left town to make his own life away from Benevolence where he was labeled and caged in as a youth. Addie is having problems making the chocolate, especially the fudge, that the store is so well known for. Will she drive the store into closing? This is a fun small town romance with some great characters to add some depth to the story. Sinclair lives above the store and he and Addie are constantly bumping into each other. He is a bit gruff, adamant that he is leaving soon to take up the reins at his home restoration business. Throw in Addie's mother, who is a successful real estate agent, is not very nice to Addie, always judging her. I love that Addie is a real person. She loves to eat, is full figured with curves, loyal to her family and town and tries to take care of everyone. She is the kind of person that I would love to have as a friend. Then there is Tiny, her dog. He is always off and running and some of the humour involves his antics. Add in a homeless young man who just wants to make his own way, someone sneaking in and out of Sinclair's apartment, a new police detective, Jax, who was a childhood friend of Sinclair and Addie's grandfather and you have a close knit community that know everyone else's business. I enjoyed reading about Addie and was happily wishing that she and Sinclair would work out their issues. Could she convince him to stay in Benevolence? Will she ever get the fudge to turn out like her grandfather's? Who is the stranger that is working at Chocolate Haven and what is he doing in town? Lots of fun with some twists to keep the story interesting. I am looking forward to seeing what is in story for Addie's sisters in the next two books in this series.
Great writing, funny and heartfelt small town romance.
I've always loved Shirlee McCoy's books. Her characters are so real to life, their lives are so easy to identify with. In this story we have Adeline. She's the middle sister who has always been there but in the background making things work. When her grandfather gets hurt, she takes over the family fudge making business. But something is missing. She's got a crazy life. A mother who is a little hard to deal with sometimes, a horrendous bridesmaid dress she has to wear, a crazy dog, and she's about to take over the care of her grandfather. Sinclair is back in town to help out his brother. When he rents an apartment above the candy shop, he's just planning to get the job done then get back to his real life. But the more time he spends with Adeline, the more he's realizing that the small town life isn't so bad. Add a couple of kids and family drama, and the story is wonderful. I received a copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Small town romance is probably my favorite type of romance. I also like books that are family centered and that is definitely what this is. If you love authors like Debbie Macomber, Donna Kauffman or Sheila Roberts you will love Shirlee McCoy. Addie is a fabulous heroine. She's real. I love that she's a chubby girl. I'm so sick all the heroines in novels being skinny gorgeous things. I want reality in my romance sometimes, or at least something close to it. Sinclair is great too. He's back in Benevolence to help his brother straighten out his life. The two of them start a relationship, albeit a strange one, that includes chasing after Addies not so tiny dog, Tiny. There are characters that you will love like May, who Addie is going to be garishly dressed for as a bridesmaid in her wedding, and character's you hate, Addie's mom, Janelle. Am I the only one that found her referring to her mom by her first name a little odd? I've never understood mom's that want to be addressed by their first name. This book gave me a huge feeling of deja vu, I think that has to do with the number of books from this genre that I've read, but really all the while I read this one, I felt like I had read it before. How strange is that? I loved the little bit of mystery that went along with the romance and I was glad that it was also something that wasn't sinister. When I want a more dark mystery, I'll turn to thrillers not romance, so this suited me well. I also enjoyed Chase, who came to work for Addie in the shop. His story really helps tie things together. Oh and then there's the fudge and how Addie finally got it right. (That was so flipping sweet) This is the perfect feel good romance and there's even a touch of mystery to it. I'm glad this is part of a series, because I look forward to revisiting the town and some of the characters. Review copy provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Format: Galley Copy Sweet Haven had me reeled in from the beginning of the story. Adeline is doing everything for everyone. Running her grandfather's chocolate shop, maid of honor for her grandmother's bff, along with running her own accounting business. The last thing she needs is for Sinclair to come back to town and throw her for a loop. She's been burned and plans to stay single for the rest of her life. Sinclair is in town to help his brother restore their grandfather's house and as soon as that's done he's out of there. He didn't expect Adeline and the draw of his small hometown to make him rethink his life. The chemistry between Sinclair and Adeline is undeniable. Adeline is very nose to the grind, nothing outside of her list should distract her. She's there for her family even though some of them don't treat her the best. Her mother made me want to pull my hair out. She's self serving, critical and only thing that seems to interest her is the almighty dollar. Adeline handled her well, though I wish she'd stood up for herself a bit sooner. Sinclair, he had me swooning through most of the book. However there's a point he aggravated me in assuming that Adeline should know that he'd move back if she'd give him a chance. At the end when her sisters, Brenna and Willow, came home I wish there'd been a scene or two more with the three of them without their mother. I'm definitely ready for Brenna's book to come out. Sweet Haven is just that, the perfectly sweet romance with a hero to make your heart melt like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.
4.5 stars I really enjoyed this one. This book has a feel like a Jill Shalvis or Susan Mallery book. Adeline's family is something. They are a typical crazy family with the issues that come along with it, but have each others backs. I laughed through out this book especially when it comes to Adeline's dog Tiny. Boy can that dog get into mischief. I was a huge fan of Adeline. She has such a big heart and wants to help everyone, but it always felt that people underestimated her a lot. Adeline has a lot on her plate, but add in the new hunk moving in above her grandfather's chocolate shop. things are about to get interesting, This book takes place in a small town and that's one of the things I enjoyed was the small town feel. Now I have to talk about Sinclair. Ex army vet who is still struggling with survivor's guilt. He's come back to a town that leaves a bad taste in his mouth with memories of his childhood. Now when he runs into Adeline that's something he didn't have before. She definitely adds excitement into his life. I really loved how he takes the time to see the worth of Adeline. Though they have their ups and downs because Adeline is leery of risking her heart again. Will she believe Sinclair is worth the risk before it's too late? I have to add Adeline and Sinclair have a lot of chemistry. For a reader who likes hot books I didn't even notice this one was on the sweet side until way after I finished and started writing this review. It is written that well.
Though the ending seemed a tad rushed (I would have maybe seen a little more of a realization from her and a conversation between the two), overall I was very happy with this story. It is nice to see Sinclair come to terms with his past in Benevolence and look at the town with adult eyes, recognizing that the townsfolk did care about him & his brother. (Although, here was another place I would have liked a little more something because we get a little about Sinclair’s military history. His experiences are still impacting his life so I think there was the opportunity for that to be addressed more.) I also really enjoyed seeing Addie grow and come to terms with her past (and her future) as well. (As I write this I keep thinking of things that I think need a little more explanation because I would have loved to see a little more resolution between Addie and her mother – although her sisters are due stories so there may be something there. We’ll see what happens :) ) I feel a little bad for pointing out things that I think the book needed because when I closed the cover at the end I really & truly liked the story and would very much recommend it. The characters are interesting and they experience a lot of growth, both individually and as a couple. The secondary characters are fantastic as well and I can’t wait to see more of their stories. The writing is very smooth and I found myself turning pages very quickly to see what came next but there aren’t ever any pacing issues. And the deepening of Sinclair and Addie’s relationship feels natural and kept my interest. So everything considered, for me, that means the book is a winner and I’m looking forward to what McCoy brings us next! (Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review)
As Addie takes over the duties of her grandfather's chocolate shop in her hometown of Benevolence, she struggles to get the chocolate recipe just right. She meets Sinclair Jefferson who is her tenant and with whom there is a genuine interest. Addie finds she needs help as the chocolate shop and its internet sales keep her a bit too busy and she finds a most interesting helper, a newcomer to Benevolence. She isn't too sure about him but takes a chance only to find some interesting twists and turns in her life. I enjoyed the book. There was some minor swearing in the book, yet clean in the romance department. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for me honest review which I have given.
This book had all the things I love in a small town romance, a sometimes feisty character who could make me laugh, a little suspense and mystery, and a hunky guy. Benevolence, Wash so reminded me of my small southern town, that I instantly fell in love with it. I, like Addie, love living and working in a small town, so I could relate to this side of her. I especially loved Sinclair and his sweet/pushy way of getting Addie to see that she could stand up for herself without eing disloyal to her family. There's nothing so sad as seeing a smart, intelligent, hard working person unable to say "NO" to family members and friends. This is probably the main thing that kept me from totally enjoying the book. I pretty much read this book from cover to cover in one sitting during our first really big snow. One warning though, make sure you are not hungry while reading this book as the chocolate descriptions alone will put on 10 pounds. One addition that I think would have added to this book would have been some chocolate recipes at the end. Saw on Shirlee's blog that she and her girls had been working on some family recipes and this would have been an awesome place to share.
I enjoyed this book. I thought it was sweet and there are some cute moments, and I enjoyed the small town characters. I did hope there would be more development between the main characters, Adeline and Sinclair, in the romance department because I felt it was sort of glossed over, and I wasn't satisfied with the ending; I felt I needed more of a conclusion about their relationship. Adeline is a do-gooder, even at the expense of herself and her own comfort. She is happy with living in the small town of Benevolence, and even though her mother may think otherwise, she is happy with how her life is. Adeline had some heartbreak in her life, so she is weary of entering into a new relationship, and is content to be on her own. Adeline is filling in for her grandfather at his chocolate shop because he is in the hospital after having a bad fall. She is starting to feel overwhelmed by all the orders she needs to bake for the shop, and is having trouble perfecting the shop's famous fudge recipe, and she has a problem with asking for help, so her life is in a bit of a crazy spot. Adeline has to run the shop, take care of her really rambunctious puppy, be part of a wedding where she has to wear an ugly dress, deal with some mysterious circumstances, deal with her mom's expectations, and her growing attraction to Sinclair. I liked that Adeline is content with her life, and I like that she is a sweetheart. Sinclair is in his hometown of Benevolence to help his brother fix up his childhood home for his brother's pregnant wife. Sinclair dislikes being in Benevolence because he thinks everyone thinks of his family as a charity case, so he wants to get out of there as soon as possible, so he doesn't have to deal with the preconceived notions he thinks the town people are thinking. Sinclair moves into Adeline's grandfather's apartment above the chocolate shop while he is in town, and when he meets Adeline he feels an attraction towards her, and wants to get to know her better, but with everything going on in her life, it is difficult. I loved that Sinclair is a nice guy, who doesn't play games, and knows what he wants and goes for it. Adeline is attracted to Sinclair, but she doesn't want to start anything with him since he is leaving town soon, and she doesn't want to get hurt, so she pushes him away often. Sinclair's feelings are growing for Adeline, but he doesn't know if he should continue to pursue her when she keeps being standoffish with him. I did enjoy the scenes between Adeline and Sinclair, but I wanted more. There were too many other things going on in the story, and I feel Adeline and Sinclair's relationship wasn't fully fleshed out. The romance is pretty tame; there isn't any sex scenes, which I didn't mind so much, but I wanted more scenes with just Adeline and Sinclair. I wanted to see them connecting on a larger level. I did like them together, and I thought Sinclair was really sweet with Adeline. Even though I felt there was bit too much emphasis on the side characters, I did like them all, and I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series. It looks like they are going to be about Adeline's sisters, so that will be fun to read. This book is wholesome, at times funny, and also was heartfelt. I enjoyed Sweet Haven, and I'm glad I read it!
Welcome to Benevolence, WA, the charming setting for ‘Sweet Haven’, first in Shirley McCoy’s Home Sweet Home series! Among the best known citizens is Janelle Lamont, a real estate agent and mother of three adult daughters. Two of her daughters are living in big cities seeing guys who have big careers; one is a doctor, another is a prosecuting attorney. And then there is Adeline or “Addie”, an accountant who still lives in Benevolence and is single, much to Janelle Lamont’s chagrin. Chocolate Haven, owned and managed by Grandad “Byron” Lamont, who as a widower lived in the apartment over the store. At least until a fall sent him hospital bound with broken bones. While Byron was in the hospital, Addie ran the chocolate and fudge shop single-handedly and tried to do small accounting projects until she could return to it full time. When she couldn’t keep up with the daily needs and special orders, she risked hiring a very young, mysterious guy new in town who learned fast. Addie could make chocolates as she had worked at the shop when a teenager, but the family fudge recipe wouldn’t work for her at all. Just one of many things that didn’t, including relationships. Janelle rented out the upstairs apartment while Byron was hospitalized; what a gorgeous guy rented it! Sinclair would be in town just long enough to help his brother clean and repair the family home that was dangerously full of trash while necessary fixtures and appliances didn’t work. His sister-in-law would soon give birth, and he could help give their baby a warm, clean place to live. Sinclair definitely wasn’t interested in dating. Addie is a heroine to whom many readers can relate, my younger self included. She is not a perfect, tiny size 6; she is like the majority of gals who neither become a doctor or lawyer nor marry one, and like the many ladies who just can’t get recipes to work for them. She is friendly unless too stressed at the shop or when standing up to her mother on behalf of Byron when Janelle tried to put him into a dementia facility. Adeline’s friend and dog-watcher Nehemiah, whose bride of almost 70 years passed away several months ago, had modeled to her the kind of marriage she would want. Descriptions of Addie and Sinclair, then her assistant, make them come to life. Conversations and actions define them, as well as in a limited fashion for the folks with smaller roles. I enjoyed the novel because I like Adeline, and because I was wanted to see the family ties improve and folks get along. Much of the plot is woven around preparations for septuagenarian May’s first wedding, Addie trying to maintain Byron’s shop, and the young mystery man she hired. I see several stories within the whole: a young woman coming to terms with her life and what she wants, a young man who knew what he wanted for his life until his small home town began to lure him, and a much younger man who found himself in town with a broken car and empty wallet. ‘Sweet Haven’ is a relationship novel, both within families and romance or marriage. I highly recommend this novel to women who feel like they do not measure up or have interesting family members and everyone who appreciates chick lit with humor, friendships, and a bit of romance. With a grateful heart, I received a copy of the e-book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received.
This is a wonderfully sweet small town romance and the first book I have read by this author. It definitely won't be my last. Ms. McCoy has a great writing style and her characters are well developed and interesting. Adeline and Sinclair are both involved in family commitments. Adeline is having to run the family chocolate store while her father recuperates from an injury. Try as she might she can't get the fudge her family is so well known for exactly right. Sinclair is back in Benevolence helping is brother clear out and clean up the old family home. His relationship with his father was never good and he had never planned to return but when his brother called what could he do. The attraction between these two is strong and the sweet relationship that develops between them is wonderful. This is a book I would definitely recommend.