Series: Southern Style #1
Published by Callahan Publishing on June 25th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Barnes & Noble
Jen Taylor has loved Stefan Sellers all her life. When he surprised her with an engagement ring, she thought all her dreams were coming true. But when she discovers Stefan has an agenda that she never even suspected, she breaks off the engagement and goes to pastry school in Paris. Now she's back in New Orleans, and she has no intention of marrying him for all the wrong reasons. She just has to convince him that marriage is a bad idea. If only she wasn't having so much trouble convincing herself.
Stefan Sellers has waited years to make Jen his wife so when she wanted to go to pastry school, he decided a few more months wouldn't matter. But six months later, the girl he picks up from the airport shows very little resemblance to the quiet, sweet girl he let fly away from him. The girl that came back from Paris is wearing five inch stilettos and waving an attitude that is laying waste to everything Stefan ever thought he knew about Jen. His calm, methodical approach to life is suddenly under siege and he can't seem to keep his hands off her.
Sweetened with a Kiss is a slightly steamy somewhat angsty contemporary romance set in New Orleans. Intended for mature audiences.
Man, I really, really did not like Stefan. I just did not like him. I’m down for an alpha hero. This guy was not an alpha. My notes in my Kindle and on Trello for this book consist of random highlights and the sentence, “This guy is a total piece of shit.”
When the book opens, Jen is returning from six months at pastry school in Paris. Stefan was confused and upset that she went to begin with, and now that she’s home, he wants to get their wedding planned. So. The wedding. Thing #1 I had an issue with. They were engaged. She had a ring. She considered herself his fiancee. However, he never proposed to her. They weren’t even dating. He appeared at her twenty-first birthday party and put the ring on her finger, telling that they’d get married at Christmas, and he’d allow her decorate, but she wasn’t allowed to use the decorations she wanted. Then he left the party. Why her twenty-first birthday party? I don’t know. Her turning twenty-one was some sort of random date he’d chosen for himself to officially be in her life. Or something. Because that’s how you get into someone’s love life, you shove a ring on their finger and announce you’ll be married at Christmas.
Now that she’s back, she and her best friend Jared are planning to open a bakery. But she doesn’t want to tell Stefan because she’s afraid of what he’ll do. (I will say this much for Stefan. He didn’t like Jared, constantly referring to him as “that hippie”, but it seemed like he genuinely just didn’t like him. There wasn’t really any misplaced jealousy or crap like that about him.) And as it turns out, she’s not wrong to be worried about his reaction when he finds out about the bakery.
He took a sip, set the glass down, and leaned forward. “No fucking way,” he hissed across the table….
“You haven’t seen our business plan.”
He lifted one arrogant eyebrow and for once it was not adorable. “I heard hippie, bakery, and French Quarter. I don’t need to see your business plan.”
“You can’t say no without at least looking at it,” she told him, amazed at how calm her voice sounded.
“It’s not your call.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Why does he need to see her business plan? Is she asking him for a loan or to somehow be involved financially in the bakery? No. No she is not. She just wanted him to see what they were planning.
Oh, god. The money. Both Jen and Stefan have money. Jen has a trust fund she came into when she turned thirty or got married, whichever came first (part of Stefan’s reasoning for his engagement declaration? Possibly. Jen certainly comes to think so) and she tells him that she wants money out of it for this bakery. Because when Stefan was eighteen, his father, who was in control of Jen’s trust fund, thought it was a good idea to hand the control and running of it over to Stefan to double, which would be good enough reason for his dad to give Stefan permission to start dating Jen. Not that he did. Start dating her, I mean. He did increase the trust, but he still seems to be in charge of it, so…..
“I asked you for my money, Stefan, not a loan.”
“That’s not going to happen. You want the bakery, these are my terms.”
Jen stood up, pushing her chair back. “You don’t get to set the terms either. It’s my money.”
“I know it’s your money,” he shot back. “But you’re not using it for this. In fact, there’s no reason for you to use any of it at all. As soon as we get married, it’s all going into a new trust for our kids.”
He’s pushy and rude and treats her cruelly. He treats her like a child, refusing to talk to her, telling her nothing, hiding the truth from her, and refusing to have sex with her. That’s right. Refusing to have sex with her. This gigantic ass, this piece of…. anyway. When Jen was sixteen, Stefan kissed her after making her feel like complete shit about her prom dress and how she looked, then made her promise to REMAIN A VIRGIN UNTIL HE DECIDED TO MARRY HER. As if that wasn’t bad enough, which it totally was, he then proceeded to fuck anyone he could stick his dick into for the next five years, parading an endless stream of women in front of Jen until the stunt he pulled at her twenty-first birthday party. Actually he didn’t even tell her to wait for him. He just said “No more boys, Jen. Got it?” and expected his command to be good enough. Now that they’ve been engaged for over a year, they still haven’t had sex because, I don’t know, she’s too pure or some happy horseshit like that. She makes a joke about having a vibrator because she’s so frustrated which gives us this gem –
His Jen would never have a sex toy.
He seems to have a real problem with the dresses she wears. I guess he’s all caveman no-eyes-but-mine-shall-see-her about it, but instead of saying something like “You look so great I’m going to have to fight off other dudes at the restaurant”, he all but tells her that she looks like a cheap tramp, then lets her continue to believe that’s what he thinks, making her feel like shit. She still thinks that’s what he thought about her prom dress, when apparently he loved the prom dress. Telling her after six years that he actually wanted her back then doesn’t really help anything. He’s just such an asshole.
“She’s not leaving.”
“Stefan, you can’t keep her here against her will.”
“Oh, yes I can. She isn’t stepping out of that house.”
I hated this guy so much that I can’t even tell you much about the rest of the characters. The fact that everyone else in this book sees how he acts and says and does nothing about it makes me want to throw up. There were a lot of cold words used to describe Stefan – cold, icy, frosty, etc – and they were all accurate. This guy was completely cold; completely devoid of any emotion. I’m not even sure why he wanted to be with Jen. He didn’t seem to like her very much after she got back from Paris. Apparently her having an opinion and speaking her mind were not qualities he appreciated.
This is the first book in the series. I know who the characters in the others are, and I might at least read the second. I already have it, and I have high hopes for them, despite Stefan being such a mess. They can’t possibly be as bad. Though the heroine in the third book is a side character in this one, and I’m not sure how Lexxi Callahan will be able to redeem her. She’s a pretty awful person here. I don’t know.