by Farrah Rochon, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86306-8
Farrah Rochon's Delectable Desire is the second book in the multi-author series The Draysons: Sprinkled With Love, which revolves around the Drayson family dealing with some office drama, reality TV competition, and, of course, love - all set in the backdrop of Lillian's Bakery, Chicago's most famous patisserie.
This story can stand alone very well, though, and in fact, one of the good things going for it is the refreshing absence of sequel baits hogging the limelight in filler scenes. There are sequel baits, of course, but their roles in this story mean something other than just a sign post saying "Buy my book!"
Carter Drayson is a talented baker, creating cakes that can actually bring people to tears, as well as an incomparable lover. The playboy, however, has issues, as we all know guys who play a lot are actually just waiting for the right woman to change their ways and become domesticated. His father never married his mother, so Carter doesn't feel that he's as much a part of the family as the other Draysons. The poor guy is becoming tired of having to prove to everyone else that he's as good as the other Draysons, and he's wondering whether he should accept a job position at another place.
Lorraine Hawthorne-Hayes is the very prim and proper daughter of one of the richest families in Chicago. Like Carter, she can be quite predictable. Yes, she wants to do her own thing (in this case, she wants to do art, and she's already living a double life of sorts as an acclaimed painter of artworks that her mother would consider scandalous), but she also feels that she must be her parents' doormat due to a relationship with the wrong guy in the past.
Carter and Lorraine start dating, and they bond over mutual anguish of being privileged children of unparalleled wealth. I'm sure people like the Kardashian ladies would read this story and weep because Ms Rochon truly understands just how much they are suffering. Normally, I'd wish these people joy as they wipe their tears away with hundred dollar notes, but Ms Rochon manages to sell the romanticism of the whole gilded cage very well here. Carter and Lorraine have solid chemistry here, and when they bond and bare their souls to each other, their love story really feels like the most romantic thing ever.
The pacing in this story is solid, with minimal scenes that feel like filler. Secondary characters show up to interact with the main characters, bringing out the best - and sometimes, the not-so-pretty - aspects of their personalities.
Unfortunately, in the late third or so of the book, the characters decide that they are irrevocably in love, and that's when my enthusiasm for this story dampens considerably. Up to that point, I was convinced that I had a keeper in my hands. By this point, however, our two main characters turn into dopey... things... that exchange lines that seem suspiciously like lifted lines from overwrought relationship textbooks.
Aside from the over-the-top sappiness, there is another problem. Lorraine turns into a wildly insecure dingbat. Her mistrust seem understandable, but the author's timing is bit off, as Lorraine's gullibility and paranoia show up late in the story and I end up thinking that, one day, Lorraine is really going to kill the relationship for good with her insecurities. It doesn't help that Carter's response to conflict in this story is to either pout or walk away. Put these two characters together and their individual ways of dealing with conflicts suggest that it is only a matter of time before these two encounter a misunderstanding that they can't handle at all.
And really now, Lorraine's mother. Is there really such a need for yet another control freak nasty mother? Maybe it would be more interesting if it's the father who is the crazy bitch for once, as we have so many crazy nasty mothers in the genre.
Delectable Desire has much going for it: a good romance, emo characters that manage to click in so many right ways, and focused narrative without too much sequel bait clutter. Unfortunately, by the last page, I find myself thinking that the couple may be actually wrong for each other, and they aren't going to last. Oh well, but at least things are good while they lasted.
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