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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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.
"Hi. Um, Claire? It's Jesse."
Not her manager, Claire thought, relieved. "Jesse who?"
Claire kicked aside a blouse and sank onto the sofa. "Jesse?" she breathed. "It's really you?"
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."
"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?"
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 leftthere 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Absolutely fantastic. Finished it in a few hours and loved every minute reading this
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.
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.
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!
Every one of Julie Garwood¿s FBI themed books has been a great read and this one continues the streak. The book opens with a look back at the Four Pips, young girls all undergoing a highly experimental treatment for a life threatening illness. The girls, Samantha, Jane, Collins and Olivia, have banded together to survive the grueling treatment and Olivia is the ringleader of this band of pranksters.Twelve years later, Olivia is having lunch with smarmy CEO, Eric Jorguson ostensibly to talk about a position with his accounting firm. She is worried about her current position as there is talk of cutbacks and she is the new kid on the block. When she tries to steer the conversation away from her famous financier father, she triggers Eric¿s suspicions and he rips her blouse thinking she is wearing a wire and trying to trap him. Olivia responds by punching him and breaking his nose, only to be set upon by his thug bodyguard. Keep in mind this is all happening in full view of the other diners in the restaurant but when other people try to help the thug pulls a gun and then backhands her. All of a sudden the man is on the ground being cuffed by an FBI agent. Apparently Olivia has accidentally gotten into the middle of an FBI operation and disputed months of planning. The best line of the book occurs when the Agent in charge threatens ¿I could make your life a nightmare.¿ He put his hand in front of her face and unfolded three fingers as he said. ¿I¿m F...B¿I.¿ She smiled. It wasn¿t the reaction he expected. ¿You want to talk nightmares?¿ she said. She put her hand up to his face and unfolded her three fingers. ¿I¿m I¿R¿S.¿Olivia meets FBI Agent Grayson Kincaid at this lunch debacle and the chemistry sizzles right off the page. Unfortunately, Olivia is up to her neck trying to get evidence to prove her father is a crook and it is consuming her life. Her family is distant and disapproving with the exception of her maternal aunt. She is also getting death threats. Grayson has problems of his own. He is raising his nephew and watching out for his ailing father. He is also still trying to connect Jorguson to a serious crime.Circumstances throw the two together and romance blooms. There is a lot going on in this book with death threats, attempted murder, recurring illness of one of the Pips, and lots of other mayhem. This book cannot be put down once you start it! The story is fast paced and the relationship between Olivia and Grayson makes your heart beat faster. There is the sense that some of the other Pips might be featured in future books, I really hope so. Write fast Ms. Garwood, please!
Gads I hate saying this about a book, but for me, this one just didn't work. Claire was one of those doormat type heroines who just scream `beat me!¿ She¿d been taken from her family when she was very young as she was a young piano protégé. When her youngest sister calls to ask her to come back to help her other sister she can¿t seem to get there fast enough ¿ only to be treated like dirt by her sister and her good buddy Wyatt. Yet sweet, `beat me¿ Claire keeps coming back for more abuse by the two of them. And if that weren¿t enough, she suffers abuse at the hands of Nicole¿s employees. I just couldn¿t understand her reasoning at all.And Wyatt ¿ what a prize her was. Not. He was a grade A JERK. At first he¿s just as nasty to `beat me¿ Claire as Nicole. Then he decides he wants to snog her. And once he does, he¿s ready to let her go onto someone else. What a prince. Then of course he decides almost out of the blue that he loves her. I don¿t know why Claire cared about either her mean spirited sister or Mr. Jerk Wyatt.I have the next book in this series and hopefully it will be a better one. I'm not sure when I'll get around to reading it since this one was such a disappointment. It's a shame because some of my favourite books are written by this author
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The two lead characters were charming but human. Claire was just kooky enough to be fun. The plot had just enough bumps and twists to be interesting.About halfway through, I ran into a problem: Claire's two sisters.At the beginning, the provided necessary conflict. In a straight romance, all of the conflicts are supposed to be nicely wrapped up at the end. But these two aren't directly involved with the romance.And they are incredibly annoying.And they are being set up for future books. So they need to remain flawed, so they can overcome their issues in their own books.In the end, I really enjoyed the primary characters and their storylines. I decided to ignore the sisters, and kept the 4 star rating for But unless someone gives me a good reason to, I'm not reading their books!
My Thoughts...I saw one of the books in this series (there's three books) reviewed on another blog. I was in one of my 'I'm just going to add books to my TBR pile without looking at what I'm doing' moods. So I skimmed the review, checked out my local library and a day later I settled in to read something that didn't involve vampires, werewolves or witches (or anything paranormal in the slightest) for the first time in I don't know how long.Sweet Talk is the first of the Baker Sister trilogy and introduces us to Claire Keyes, world famous pianist and twin sister to Nicole Keyes and older sibling to Jesse Keyes. At the age of three her parents discovered that she had a rare talent for the piano. A talent that was swiftly encouraged and at the age of six was taken from her Seattle home to New York where her talent was honed and she toured the world as a musical prodigy.Because of this the relationship is barely existent between herself and her sisters. She doesn't even know her twin is married until her younger sister calls her out of the blue to say Nicole is ill and will need help running the bakery. Despite their strained relationship Claire drops everything and heads back home to help.Despite the frostiness from her twin sister and the lack of their younger sister Claire manages to push her way back into the family fold and there she meets Wyatt. Ruggedly handsome, and very single, they can't argue that there's chemistry between them and they'd make a perfect match if it wasn't for the fact Claire has never experienced attraction like this before and Wyatt is in firm denial.Mallery has created a very interesting family dynamic here and I was impressed that she didn't fold in the first couple of chapters of Claire being home to make the relationship between Nicole and Claire smoothed over without any bumps. There are plenty of bumps, Nicole is not forgiving and Claire struggles to understand her sisters anger and resentment towards her when they both clearly missed out as children. Final Thoughts...Sweet Talk was a surprisingly refreshing easy read. I flew through this book and read it in less than two days and stayed up till 1am the first night because I couldn't put it down. And for the first time ever I actually put a famous face to one of the main characters. In my head Wyatt was played by Gerard Butler (yum!) and certainly made for entertaining reading.I feel bad for giving this book a three star rating when I obviously enjoyed it so thoroughly, so maybe it is more deserving of a four star rating, but there were moments were things were almost a little too cliche and Claire's naivety did wear me down after a while. But I knew what I was getting myself in for - so I didn't allow it to spoil my reading.If you're looking for something a little different and like your romances with a little bit of fluff then Sweet Talk is your book! I'll be certainly checking out more of Susan Mallery's work!
LOVED! Family saga about three sisters. One is estranged and returns back to help a sister recover from knee surgery. Romance blooms between one of the sister's friends and a sister. Sweet and fluffy. Good Story.
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I read this book in 24 hours. Loved it...the characters and all!
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.
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.