Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I guess this week finds me reading bakery-inspired romance with Katana Collins’s Beefcakes and Erin Nicholas’s Sugarcoated. This is my first foray into the literary world of Erin Nicholas, and I am finding myself hooked with the first book in her Hot Cakes series. If you don’t want to be hooked too, then you’ll want to stay away from Sugarcoated. However, you’ll want to read about the guys of Fluke, Inc, in this series because there is a hero for everyone.
In Sugarcoated, we follow Aidan and Zoe. These two have known each other most of their lives because Aidan is Zoe’s older brother’s best friend and business partner, and his mother was best friends with her mother. Their past is deeply intertwined. As a twenty-five-year-old virgin, Zoe decides that she wants Aidan to take her virginity and prepare her for any future men in her life. She’s attracted to him, but she only wants his help, or so she thinks. When he spurns her request, it makes her feel foolish, and she believes her request is behind her…until it’s not. Five months later, Aidan is back in town, and he’s come for Zoe. See, Aidan realizes his attraction and interest in Zoe, and he’s back to claim her forever, but he has a secret. He and his partners in Fluke Inc. are also interested in purchasing her competition to her bakery. A life-long rivalry aims to derail Aidan’s plans for his future with Zoe. Will Aidan claim her heart and her virginity, or will his purchase of her competitor, Hot Cakes, burn his future?
In one word, Sugarcoated is sweet. This isn’t a “clean romance” by any means. Both Aidan and Zoe are dirty talkers, and their bedroom antics offer the spice of the story. However, their $exiness is really tertiary to this book. Instead, this is Nicholas’s story of accepting change and finding surprises in life by jumping in first and asking questions later regardless of success and failure. Aidan and Zoe are two sides of the same coin. As Nicholas develops their story, it’s clear that these two sometimes “play it safe” or do what’s “easy” to avoid failure. As the story progresses, we find Zoe taking chances and making herself vulnerable to Aidan even though the price is potential failure. Aidan encourages this in Zoe but fails to do this for himself. This conflict/double-standard becomes the tension of Nicholas’s story. As such, this contemporary romance becomes more sweet than sour. Nicholas allows you to breathe as a reader as Aidan and Zoe quickly troth themselves to each other. There is something comforting about that for this romance. You can simply sit back and be entertained by Zoe and Aidan falling deeply for each other, instead of worrying over some level of desolate angst.
If I had any criticism about Nicholas’s story, it would be its feeling of repetition. Zoe and Aidan seem to cycle around the same issues: Aidan’s want for Zoe to accept Aidan’s purchase of her “competitor” and Zoe’s worry over changes in her life and the need for “surprise” since her life is safe. There is quite a bit of reminding about how long these two have been attracted to each other. If I was a beta reader for Nicholas, I would recommend revising out these constant reminders, as they oftentimes slowed down the story progression.
For me, Sugarcoated is a set-up for the rest of the Hot Cakes series of standalones. Yes, Nicholas has a prequel for this series on her Facebook page that introduces you to the Fluke Inc. guys. However, Nicholas has also used Sugarcoated to introduce us further to the personalities of Aidan, Cam, Ollie, Dax, and Grant. This is where she will hook you. You want to know more about the dazzling playboy Dax (his book is coming next with Forking Around), the creative, but flighty Ollie, the straight-laced Grant, and the cocky and oftentimes aggressive Cam. This is where Nicholas will grab you and help you push the button on your Amazon preorders for her books.
If you like friends-to-lovers, brother’s best friend romances, then you will want to read Erin Nicholas’s Sugarcoated. It’s a little bit of sweet, some spice, and a lesson on letting go and accepting life as it comes your way.
In love and romance,