Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
Since the start of Erin Nicholas’s Hot Cakes series, there have been two books in this series that I’ve been awaiting with bated breath: Cam and Whitney’s book and Oliver and, I hope, Piper’s book. Thankfully, Nicholas has treated us to Cam and Whitney’s book under the title Semi-Sweet on You, an apt moniker for this story given its connection to an important moment within its pages. What I didn’t expect was the story’s tenor and development. If you are looking for a typical enemies-to-lovers’s story, be forewarned, it isn’t here. Instead, what Nicholas’s newest book offers is a refreshing look at the male/female dynamic in a love relationship. I really don’t want to give too much of this story away because I want you to be as surprised as I was in the story development. Here’s what I will say about this book, though:
- It’s my favorite thus far of the Hot Cakes’s stories.
- It will surprise you, especially Cam.
- The psychological and emotional gravity of this book is surprising and easily the best part of it.
- Whitney’s development as a character is a revelation in the expanse of the Hot Cakes’ universe. She is easily the most complicated character to date.
- There is still lots of humor in this story. The BEST part of this book beyond Cam and Whitney and its emotional complications is Didi Lancaster. Her friendship with Henry (yes, you read that right) elicits some of the sweetest moments of this story.
- This is a SERIOUS slow-burn. It is, by my estimation, the cleanest of the book thus far which is another surprise given…Cam.
- Yes, there are some early signs of Ollie and Piper, but unlike the other books, it isn’t transmitted overtly. It’s still underlying, so you will need to wait.
- It has a message about women that cannot ever get old. The idea that women in business being overlooked and the necessity for men to be aware and careful is important. As you see this played out on the page, you recognize the feminism of the men of Hot Cakes quickly.
- Family is the core of this book. Given the feud between the McCaffreys and the Lancasters, you would hope there would be reconciliation. How it comes about articulates the need for community and family. This message is clear over and over again in this story.
Now, my continued criticism of Nicholas is her continued need to repeat the travails of her characters. While I’d love to say her stories’ depths require a continued repetition of the issues, it isn’t necessary, and it causes the story to drag at times. Whitney plays at oppositions for much of the story, and I recognize its importance to her journey as she processes new possibilities for her life. However, it feels superfluous at times and a tad manipulative. While this is my favorite Hot Cakes story, there is still some revision that could be had in future stories.
Semi-Sweet on You will make you sweet on Cam and Whitney. It was a surprising journey into a story of second chances. As Erin Nicholas’s characters recognize certain truths about their history, you recognize that we all process the past in different ways. Cam and Whitney’s story is a complex entanglement that eventually finds itself in the sweetest of endings.
In love and romance,