I came into this having not read anything by Miranda Liasson previously. She is well-known for her Angel Falls series, and “The Sweetheart Deal” is the first book of her new Blossom Glen series. I opted to read this book because I was interested in its ‘marriage of convenience’ storyline.
Pastry chef Tessa Montgomery and chef Leo Castorini have always been in competition all through their school lives, not unlike their feuding families, particularly for a most sought-after college scholarship. Leo won the scholarship by the smallest margin and went on to make a good living thanks to his education. Tessa, who had always dreamed about going to pastry school, had put her dream on hold and stayed back in Blossom Glen to look after her family and their boulangerie. Now, Leo is back in town to help his father with his restaurant.
Both the restaurant and the bakery are not doing well financially, but despite this, neither Leo’s father nor Tessa’s mother want to pay heed to the ideas their children are putting forth to turn their businesses around. At his wit’s end, during one of their rare meetings, Leo puts forth to Tessa the idea of a marriage of convenience for a few months; he reasons it will help to bring their parents around to their way of thinking if they work as a team. Though reluctant at first, Tessa eventually agrees to his proposal.
Did they manage to get their families to accept their marriage? Were they able to gain the confidence of their parents to make the changes that would enable the success of their businesses? Was Tessa able to achieve her dream? Did their marriage stay the business arrangement they had imagined it would be? The story answers all these questions in quite an interesting way.
Both Leo and Tessa’s characters are fairly well-crafted. Their motives and priorities have been clearly defined, providing a good basis for their unusual decision. Both of them have some emotional hang-ups, creating roadblocks in their relationship and their growth as people; the author has done a fairly decent portrayal of their resolution of these issues. Her depiction of their growing mutual attachment is also organic and natural.
But I felt certain aspects of the story’s development felt abrupt and some of the actions of a few characters were not convincing at all. Moreover, in spite of an interesting premise, I felt the story was not sufficiently engaging. I just couldn’t connect with the people in the story at all. The book, despite featuring two close-knit families, didn’t create the intimacy that I was expecting it to.
To conclude, for me this is still a fairly good story, apt for fast, holiday light-reading.
The book gets 4 out of 5 stars.