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Wednesday, May 19, 2010:
Sugar Creek by Toni Blake (2010) - review
Welcome to Destiny, Ohio—where two families have been at odds as long as anyone in town can remember.

Rachel Farris returned to her childhood home with one mission in mind: get Mike Romo out of her family’s apple orchard business and out of their lives. But hard-nosed and totally hot Mike, who happens to be the law in Destiny, is convinced the Farris clan stole the land from his family fifty years ago and he’s not backing down. Even when shapely trouble shows up in a pair of designer blue jeans. However, neither the hunky cop nor the sexy prodigal hometown girl can anticipate the electricity that heats things up whenever they’re together—adding new sizzle to an ongoing feud that’s raged for generations, and soon putting both their hearts at risk.

Rachel has come back to Destiny at the request of her grandmother to help her with the apple harvest. Though she temporarily left behind a dream job and her fast-paced life, Rachel couldn't turn her back on family, even if she did resent it a bit. However her stay is just temporary, until the fall, and then she'll go back to Chicago and get on with her life.

However the minute she sets foot back in Destiny, she clashes with the local authorities. See, Rachel has a bit of a hot foot when she's behind the wheel, and Mike Romo won't stand for it, not in Destiny, so he gives her a hefty fine. Finding out that she's a Farris certainly doesn't endear her to him either, so he feels he has even less of a reason to be lenient. Especially when he catches her speeding again.

Rachel cannot believe the nerve of that man! Mike Romo, also known as Officer Romeo in her eyes - which irritates him to no end - is a first class jerk. So she likes to drive fast, so what. There are worse things she could do. But Rachel knows the long-standing feud between their families is what's driving this anomosity between them. It certainly couldn't be some intense, deeply hidden attraction that has her looking forward to exchanging barbs with the blasted man, and if she's seeing sexual heat in his eyes whenever he looks at her, it must be a trick of light. There's no way that a Farris and a Romo could ever hook up and, God forbid, enjoy it. That would go against the laws of nature....

My thoughts:

In book 2 of the Destiny series, Toni Blake has once again written a sexy, intense story about two people who might seem all wrong for each other, but can't help falling in love anyway.

Mike and Rachel have a long family history, even if they never really knew each other growing up in Destiny. But the bad feelings that started with their grandparents has carried over into their own lives, and they can't help but react to it whenever they see each other. yet underneath it all, they both feel a crazy attraction that doesn't make sense. And when it's inevitable that they finally act on it, the results are amazing. Toni writes incredibly sensual and erotic love scenes (shades of Lacey Alexander) and it's sexy how Mike can't keep his hands off Rachel, and how he can't help but see to her pleasure because that turns him on. Rachel is no prude, and has had her fair share of lovers, but none of the men she's ever been with have ever excited her like Mike does, even if she thinks she hates him. It might not make any sense, but their forbidden attraction is what brings them closer together, and has each of them sharing a part of themselves that they don't show to other people.

In addition to being incredibly sexy, Toni has also written an incredibly poignant storyline featuring Mike and his family. I won't give it away here, but suffice it to say, it's something that most likely will make you cry, and it's not something that has a happy ending, a fact that I appreciate because Toni could easily have chosen that path and made everything perfect in the end, but she chose not to, not only because it made complete sense, but also because it wouldn't have been fair to the reader. Sometimes you have to make the tough choices and not try to wash away all the ugliness and unfairness of life, and I believe it was the right thing to do.

Of course this aspect of Mike's life affects him very deeply, and makes it difficult to connect with people. He's gruff and often unapproachable, but in Rachel he finds a woman who is not easily intimidated by his demeanor. She gives as good as she gets, and he respects her for that. Mike can truly be himself around her and not worry that it will drive her away. And once Rachel understands his history, she decides she's not going anywhere. At least not until the Apple Festival is over.

Rachel is dead set on returning back to Chicago because she loves what she's accomplished, and has worked hard to get there. Her insecurities about being replaced by a younger, more ambitious go-getter drive her to stay on top of her game, and even while in Destiny, she can't completely walk away from the Blackberry, no matter how many times her grandmother tries to hide it from her. Even when she starts to fall for Mike, she's not sure she can give up the career for a totally different lifestyle, one she'd gladly ran from years ago. While she misses her friends and family, she's worked so hard to make something of her life, and she worries that if she's not successful, who will take care of her family if she can't. Rachel puts a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, and it has her conflicted about what she really wants.

I loved coming back to Destiny, and though I wish we'd seen a little more of Jenny and Mick, it was nice catching up with some of Rachel's other girlfriends, and hopefully the men they will end up with. It was also a lot of fun getting to know Rachel's grandmother Edna, who proves that you can be old but not dead, and her candid opinions and comments are hilarious. We discover how the feud between the Romos and the Farrises started back all those years ago, and we learn forgiveness can be a very good thing. Sugar Creek is a lovely place to visit and I can't wait to return.

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****

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  1. I love the cover of this book! It looks like I have another series to start. :)

  2. Great review Stacy! Makes me want to read it even more. Less than a week to go!!

  3. Great review, Stacy! As you know, I loved this book and can't wait to return to Destiny!

  4. Great review, Stacy! Thanks also for pointing the upcoming release of this book because I have it down for June 8th release. I don't know why but I'm not arguing. Can't wait to read it!

  5. *Sigh* Toni is the best. I love her books so much. I can't wait to get this one.

  6. I've been wanting to read this one ever since I finished One Reckless Summer. I'm glad to see you really enjoyed this one - it means I probably will too :-)

  7. I Loooooved your review Stacy !! (and counting the days till I can read it myself ;-).

  8. Excellent review, Stacy! I'm reading this one now and loving it.

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