Friday, October 4, 2013

6 Heart Review: Sugar and Spice by Kimberly Kincaid and Giveaway!

Sugar and Spice (The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap anthology #3)
Kimberly Kincaid

Page Count: 123

Release Date: 24 September 2013
Publisher: Kensington
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via tour publicist, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Kensington and Tasty Book Tours!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Christmas cookies come once a year, but true love is forever...

For friends Clara, Abby and Lily, only one thing is more delicious than the Pine Mountain holiday cookie exchange—finding the right man before they ring in the New Year!

When caterer Lily Callahan goes up against hotshot pastry chef Pete Mancuso in the bake-off of the season, the stakes are high—and scandalously passionate. Will the gorgeous gourmand steal Lily's heart—and the top prize in the Christmas cookie competition?
Lily might not have gone to a fancy culinary school in Philadelphia, but she'd still been around enough chefs to know Pete's suave, I-know-best type. She hadn't spent the last month refining her skills and perfecting countless cookie recipes just to be upended by an overly confident pretty face.
Even if Pete's smile had threatened to knock her knees out from under her.

Lily sticks to the rules. That's just her thing; whether it be a recipe or a "type," she adheres to her own restrictions, and seldom strays very far. Pete, rebellious and charming, is the exact opposite. The fun-loving chef takes tremendous risks both in and out of the kitchen, which is why when he and Lily come face to face in a cutthroat Christmas cookie competition, something's going to simmer... if not explode.

Sugar and Spice is the last of the three stories in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. It's short and sweet, exactly the kind of Christmas romance quickie you want to read when you're in between holiday festivities and can't sit down and concentrate on something heavy. Kimberly Kincaid's voice is frank, but she manages to make her characters sentimental. I love the honesty and realness she breathes into Lily as a character. Even though there isn't much character development and obviously with such short length, there isn't much complexity or texture either, Lily is easy to sympathize with and love, which is why readers will relate to her frustration upon meeting Pete, who's trouble from the moment she sets eye on him. Not only does he happen to have the most bone-melting smile she's ever seen, but he'll also be her competition... but then again, who said there's anything wrong with sleeping with the enemy?

Pete's daredevil personality is matched with an equally troubled past, and as Lily is the first and only girl to ever coax him to comfort, both realize there's something there. The concept is cute, but it's inevitable that a Christmas romance would be tacky. The entire story is unrealistic (they just happen to run into each other, they just happen to be partners, the media just happens to love them on TV, resulting in even more duo time... blech) and extremely predictable but I'm not too disappointed by that. After all, this is a cute, cheerful holiday read, one meant to lift your spirits and indulge you in a sugary, spicy, contemporary Christmas fantasy.

While I didn't read the other two stories in the anthology, I did peruse the prologue and epilogue; love how the three best friends' stories all come together! Sugar and Spice was a decent read, but I didn't like it enough to go back and read the other stories; the epilogue, as hurried as it was, was more than enough of an indicator of each of the women's fate: a far-fetched, optimistic happily-ever-after.

Pros


Very quick read // Light tone // Fun, festive, and spirited // Warm and cozy—a feel-good story for a feel-good season! // Likable characters // Each romance story is integrated into the others, and the characters all involve each other

Cons


Way too predictable // "Happily ever after" is really cheesy // Ending is rushed and unrealistic // Not much chemistry because short stories leave little room for relationship development

Verdict


The warm, heartfelt romance that blossoms in the midst of a tense, frenetic Christmas baking contest in Sugar and Spice makes for both a merry, diverting holiday quickie that'll make you smile, and a sizzling, intense affair that will make you blush. I liked how the preceding stories in the anthology are all incorporated into Kincaid's contribution to the collection because it draws three otherwise disengaged women together, but the story itself isn't anything noteworthy. As light contemporary romances go, it's quick, unmemorable, and has both its hot moments, as well as its dull—I enjoyed myself keeping the holiday spirit in mind, but otherwise, I wasn't that impressed Americanflag

6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back (x)

Giveaway!

Two lucky readers will get the chance to read the entire The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap anthology, themselves—we have two finished digital copies up for grabs! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for the chance to win. 

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
This is a tour-wide giveaway and is neither sponsored nor hosted by Books à la Mode. I am merely participating in the promotional tour.
Giveaway ends October 5th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—that means anyone in the world can enter. Woohoo!
Void where prohibited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!