Review by Veronica

Series Name: Bluebird Basin, # 2  

The silence descending while Mira slowly melted down shattered as the bell above the door dinged. Even though she’d heard that sound so often it was ingrained on her psyche, this ding was different. This ding trilled. It sang. It tinkled over her like a sound confetti as a perfectly-timed dream come true walked into her bakery.

Lips Like Sugar is a satisfying and addictive romance romp.  

Fake Date. Real Feels.

It’s official, Mira Harlow has finally lost it. Between running her small-town bakery, parenting her 14-year-old son, and taking care of her mom, she’s a stretched-thin mess. But kissing a total—and very sexy—stranger before begging him to be her date to Ashley and Madigan’s wedding just so her ex won’t see how lonely she really is? That’s a new level of chaos, even for her.

The last thing drummer Cole Sanderson expects when he drives into the small ski town of Red Falls, MT is to score a date to his best friend’s wedding. But since his life in Seattle is stagnating, when the gorgeous, green-eyed bakery owner propositions him to be her long-distance boyfriend, stirring his punk-shenanigans roots to their core, he doesn’t even hesitate to tell her, “Hell yes!”

Mira hopes for a fun night with her fake date, but when their wedding weekend turns into a genuine connection, when Cole returns to Seattle and she tries to go back to her normal life, she can’t help but wonder if she missed out on something real. But Cole isn’t done with her yet, and when he finds his way back to Red Falls, she’ll have to decide what’s more important, holding down her world, or taking a risk, embracing the chaos, and maybe even falling in love. 

Jess’s first book, Come As You Are, was one of my all-time favourite rom-com reads. So, I was excited to read her next book in the Bluebird Basin series. I may not have loved this book as much as its predecessor, but it still was an enjoyable read. Firstly, I love that Jess’s main characters are older. Both Cole and Mira are in their 50s, and they have lived life. They have gone through life’s ups and downs and have come out stronger in the end. Their age adds so much richness and depth to their character’s essence. I also adored all the 80’s and 90’s song references in this book. They felt like a love letter to my soul. 

This book starts a day before Madigan and Ashley’s wedding (the two MCs from the previous book). Cole is Madigan’s best friend, and Mira is the local baker baking the wedding cake. Now, this book does read as a stand-alone, but I would highly recommend reading Come As You Are because it is freaking amazing. Mira finds herself in a sticky situation when her ex-boyfriend and his wife walk into her bakery, and Mira finds herself saying that she will be attending the wedding with her boyfriend (who doesn’t exist). Cole just so happens to walk into her bakery while this is all happening, and Mira ropes Cole into pretending to be her boyfriend for the wedding. I’m not always a fan of fake dating tropes, but I didn’t mind it too much in this case. This is because the fake dating aspect of this story only takes up a small chunk of the book. These two only really pretend to be fake dating for the first quarter of the book, and then they move to a steamy friends-with-benefits situation. I enjoyed how this story unfolded. The progression of Mira and Cole’s relationship made sense for them. There are a few things that would only happen in Romanceland, but that’s okay. 

I really liked Mira’s character. Jess knows how to create a strong and complex heroine. Mira is juggling a lot of responsibilities in this book. She is running her own business (that is struggling a bit), her mother is starting to show early signs of dementia, and she is raising a teenage son by herself. My heart instantly connected with Mira. Her struggles are real and very relatable. I could just feel her sense of being always overwhelmed, and I wanted good things to happen to her. Mira is reluctant to open her heart to Cole because she believes that any relationship they have is doomed to fail because they live in two different cities, and because she has so many responsibilities, she thinks no man would ever want to be a part of that hectic lifestyle. Her character arc is learning to believe that Cole is different from past boyfriends and that she can trust this man with her heart. 

If you like your romances on the spicier side of things, then you will love this book. Jess knows how to create delicious and steamy tension between her two MCs. From the beginning, Cole and Mira know that they are seriously attracted to each other, and Cole definitely falls in love with Mira harder and faster in this book. The main hurdle between these two is the long-distance relationship, and Mira is reluctant to be in any relationship. I liked these two together. Their banter is fun and witty and just so enjoyable. These two just connected physically and emotionally right away. There is just something about that spark that existed between them that just draws you in. I loved every exchange and found myself wanting to see what would happen next. 

Lips Like Sugar is a fabulous romance filled with oodles of charm and spice.   

Thank you, Victory Editing, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.