- Read my reviews of the previous books in the Heather Bay series.
There are a lot of characters in the delightful found family created by Novak for this series, but each is so distinct that they are easy to keep track of. Just a hint of the relationship for this book is teased in the previous, but the events kick off pretty much where the other ended, not giving us time to dwell on the “will they/won’t they” (anyway, this is a romance novel, so we do know that they will). Noah’s crush on his best friend’s older brother, Spencer, is adorable, but in the manner of a quietly long-held adoration that is safe because it will never happen. Spencer is the caretaker sort of friend who will make sure his drunk buddy is looked after as quickly as he’ll offer that same buddy help with a baking project.
Even though they’ve known each other for years, people change during that time. Suddenly, the chemistry also inherent to baking flares between the men. The baking as accidental foreplay is sexy on its own, but Spencer’s personal eureka moment adds that joyful bit of flavor that makes this story a true delight. He experiences less angst than genuine self-examination and curiosity while he has open conversations with friends about what he might be feeling toward Noah, which is no less than Noah deserves in a potential partner. I also appreciate that the men decide to keep whatever might be building between them quiet so that it can develop at its own pace. Their well-intentioned friends immediately ruin their first date, but I loved that the best friend/brother attempts to rectify this in a supportive manner. This is a nice twist to the trope, where too often that character is responsible for the conflict of the story.
Speaking of conflict, this is much more of a slice-of-life arc than an intricate relationship drama. Low angst can be fluffy, but here, it feels much more like reading about real life. Spencer and Noah both have other external concerns they also devote attention to, rather than the entire story being about their developing romance. That being said, I did thoroughly enjoy all the moments that were devoted to said romance!
Novak has a true gift for developing ensemble casts that represent the best aspects of supportive friendships, no matter the gender. I look forward to following along as they all find their person (or finally see the person right in front of them) and also embark on their happily ever after.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.