Sweet as Sin

Sweet as SinBy Inez Kelley

Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: January 31, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he’s driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.

Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won’t lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she’s as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?

Goodreads Summary

I’ve been extremely lucky to come across a number of books in the last several months that have been placed in my to-be-reread pile.  This is one of only a handful in the past year that I ended up reading again within a couple of days of finishing it the first time and just like the others, I’ve been mulling over what to say about it for a while.  Kelley knocked me over and made me a huge fan.

The story opens hot and fast when John and Livvy meet and fall nearly instantly into serious lust for each other the day he moves in next door.  They both have reservations about an actual relationship – he knows she’s probably too good for him, she knows he’s probably going to be bad for her – but they’re drawn to each other anyway.  Just days after meeting, John finally has a break in his writer’s block and when his sister asks Livvy to take care of him while he’s writing, she agrees.  When she inadvertently startles him while he’s engrossed in his work, he reacts by shrinking away in fear but brushes it off by telling her it’s a normal reaction to getting in the head of his characters.  She doesn’t buy it but she lets it pass.

Livvy and John start what could probably only be called a free-fall into that relationship neither was sure about.  While there aren’t any discussions about the future, since she stayed overnight to watch over him while he worked, Livvy has stayed with John and he’s happy to settle into a routine with her.  I didn’t specifically notice, but I’m hoping Kelley included some fire extinguishers in the Sugar Shack and John’s bedroom because.. Oh. My. God.  My Kindle screen started to melt.  It’s a good thing I don’t eat cupcakes because I don’t think I could eat cupcakes again without blushing.

It’s revealed early in the story the characters in John’s books are extensions of pieces of John’s life: the heroic Jondi and the scary protective Thorn are flipsides of his own personality, the evil Nordrake a representation of his horrifically abusive stepfather and Vory is Livvy.  While John’s aware of the symbolism of the characters, he never makes any connections between the stories he writes and the things that either are happening or that he’s afraid will happen.  There are little snippets of Jondi, Thorn and Vory’s story as it’s unfolding for John intermingled with the narrative for Livvy and John, making the whole story even more affecting and as things spin out of control, completely heartbreaking.

While she came perilously close, Livvy is not perfect.  She comes complete with her own set of baggage thanks to a philandering father but she’s still willing to stick with John through the worst of what he can dish out when she finds out about his past.

I keep a box of Kleenex next to my reading chair, not because I live in Wisconsin and get a lot of colds (well, true), but because I end up crying when I read sometimes (a few sometimeses).  John’s story did it to me – twice.  The juxtaposition of this strong, sexy guy who was completely in control with the child-like, lost Jondi who couldn’t protect Thorn or Vory made my heart ache.  The way he and Livvy found their way back to each other made me cry all over again.

I don’t think it can be said enough that Kelley should be applauded for handling the issues of PTSD and Anxiety Disorders so intelligently.  There weren’t any quick answers to dealing with the aftermath of those things here, which was exactly the right answer.

My Summary: This isn’t your typical “alpha he-man sweeps hot chick off her feet and they live happily ever after” sort of thing (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).  Ugly things happen to nice people but there are some wonderfully brave and loving things too. Having done it myself, not only do I recommend reading this, but I recommend reading it twice.

My Rating: A




  1. I've heard wonderful things about Inez Kelly!

  2. I was really blown away by this. From some other comments I've read since, it sounds like she's done some other really smokin' things – I've been like a monkey with a shiny penny using Calibre to organize my books and I found Myla by Moonlight, one of her earlier books, in my collection. I'm going to reread it when I have a chance.

  3. I've heard so many good things about this book! I don't know why I've resisted putting it on my TBR pile, but you've finally convinced me.

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