Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Tropes: single mom; former MLB baseball player with a secret; small-town romance; insta-attraction
One of my favorite parts of reading romance is reaching the end of a book and finding a fulfilling HEA or HFN, the kind that makes your heart swell and threatens to put a perma-smile on your face. This is the case with Adriana Locke’s The Sweet Spot. Adriana Locke has found her niche in the world of romancelandia, and she continues to create stories that make you pine for her characters even after the book has ended. In this newest story, Palmer and Cole simply and effectively steal your time because you hate to leave them to their love affair. There are some intentional and important choices that Locke has made in her story that make it effectively a time guzzler.
Palmer (what a great name for a heroine) has lived a life where the people in her past and present have stolen her hope. She lives her life raising a son who is a great citizen and human being, but his father has done very little to contribute. As many single moms know, it falls on her to bear the burden of raising her child. She does this with aplomb, but given her experience with an alcoholic father and an absentee ex, she isn’t hopeful that she would ever find a man to love her as she needs to be loved. She knows that she wants to marry a man and have another child, but she’s reticent to believe she will ever find what she needs. Palmer is every woman, and vulnerability and trust don’t come easy for her as it doesn’t for many of us.
What Locke does so brilliantly is craft a hero in Cole Beck who is not interested in relationships to act as a foil to Palmer. What’s profound about his characterization is he’s been raised to be a relationship-type of guy. His parents are incredible examples of love and marriage. He’s lived a fairly idyllic life, and he cares for people. Post-baseball, he doesn’t know himself. He also harbors a secret that Locke does well to hide for much of the book. Palmer and Cole’s character arcs side by side look like a potential trainwreck, but, with her writing prowess, Locke shows us how a single mom can grow hope through the careful actions of a stalwart hero. Together, they grow into each other, and their journey looks like a fairy tale. They are both loveable and extraordinary and likable.
Add to their pairing Cole’s parents, Palmer’s tween-age son, Ethan (by the way, probably the wisest person in the story), and Palmer’s best friend, Val. These people conspire to hold Palmer and Beck’s feet to the romance fire so to speak. They also provide carefully placed wisdom and humor to the story’s plot. It would be fun in the future for Val and Ethan to receive stories in Locke’s idyllic small-town world, but The Sweet Spot is so good on its own that I feel replete at its end.
Adriana Locke is a small-town romance force of nature. Every time I enter her stories, I’m astounded at her ability to woo me with characters so loveable you want to know them in real life. This is definitely the case for The Sweet Spot. Using an oft-used baseball metaphor, she hit a home run with this one.
In love and romance,