Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review of Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton

Marie Sexton
Strawberries for Dessert
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

This is #4 of Marie Sexton's Coda Books, but can be read as a standalone because it has 'new' main characters. There’s a tiny reference to the characters from the previous books but they don’t play an active role in this fourth book.

When Jonathan Kechter agrees to a blind date with Cole Fenton, he expects nothing more than dinner and a one-night stand... but he gets more than he bargained for in Cole. Cole is arrogant, flamboyant, and definitely not Jon’s type. Still, when Cole suggests an arrangement of getting together for casual sex whenever they're both in town, Jon readily agrees.
Their arrangement may be casual, but Jonathan soon learns that when it comes to Cole Fenton, nothing is easy. Between Cole’s fear of intimacy and his wandering lifestyle, Jonathan wonders if their relationship may be doomed from the start—but the more Cole pushes him away, the more determined Jon is to make it work.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M romance, Contemporary

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher

My opinion in short:
This was my first acquaintance with Marie Sexton’s work and I loved it. It’s going to be one of those books that nestle themselves on the books-with-unforgettable-characters shelf. What appeared to be an okay read at the beginning of the book, turned out to blow me away in the end. The unusual relationship building between Cole and Jonathan was intriguing. And the author succeeded in making me adore a hero type that is usually not my favorite type: the flamboyant, femininely build gay hero. Cole just seems too much, but I was on the same path as Jonathan, gradually falling more and more for his complex personality. The increasing intimacy and tension between them kept me reading and reading. This book literally cost me a night’s sleep because I couldn’t put it down. I guess it won’t be a surprise that I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames

What’s more to know about this book:
Cole and Jonathan appear to be a mismatch at first. Jonathan even admits as much as that Cole isn’t his type at all. He himself is a tall, broad shouldered, strong looking guy and he prefers his lovers to be as well. Cole is thin, small build and swaying instead of walking. The way he speaks screams gay. He loves to call everyone honey, sugar, sweetie, doll or darling.
But there’s so much more to these guys than a look at first sight reveals. They keep seeing each other, initially in a casual way, and layer by layer their personalities are peeled down to the core. The character development was excellently done and Ms Sexton succeeded in creating two unforgettable heroes for me.
The story is told in first person from Jonathan’s point of view. This was interesting and worked well for me. Together with Jonathan we experienced the shift in their relation from casual to more intimate to love, and learned to appreciate and understand Cole more and more.
The plot is well developed and steadily paced. The emotional tension is gradually introduced and never gets too overwhelming; it just kept my eyes glued to the pages. It didn’t matter that it was getting later and later, my brain just didn’t seem to remember it needed sleep, it was too involved in Jon’s and Cole’s feelings. At the end the author elongates our anticipation of the HEA a little bit more; to the point I wanted to scream in frustration. In a good way.
At first I thought this was a book in which all the sexy things would happen behind closed doors, because in the beginning all we got was a sort of a recap from Jonathan of what took place in the bedroom. But to my pleasant surprise the sex scenes became more elaborate and explicit with the increase of their intimacy. The result is mind-blowing, not to say scorching hot. And in a subtle way the love scenes start to reflect the development of this couple's relationship, which leads to incredible dynamics.
Writing style
Ms Sexton's writing has a way of evoking emotions and feelings. When I’m absolutely honest I didn’t even take much notice of her writing style because of that. So I actually don’t know how she does it. I think it must be her authentic dialogues (there are quite a few in this book) and the natural way of putting the thoughts of her main character into words.

Favorite quote:
“No dessert, I’m afraid,” Cole said. “I cook, but I don’t bake.”
“Is there a difference?”
“Honey, they’re like night and day. Cooking is an art—you can substitute, improvise, experiment. But baking is a science. Everything has to be exactly right or it all falls apart. So many rules. It’s terribly boring.” I was thinking how that statement illustrated a great deal about Cole’s character when he turned to me. “You should try it, sweetie,” he said, with a hint of venom in his voice.

After finishing Strawberries for Dessert I read the first Coda book, Promises, which I bought ages ago but was still unread on my ereader. And this book had the same sleep-depriving effect on me, the emotional tension was marvelous again and I ended up loving Promises as much as Strawberries for Dessert.

Marie Sexton’s website | on Goodreads
Buy Strawberries for Dessert here

Books in this series:
#1 Promises (Jared & Matt)
#2 A to Z (Zach & Angelo)
#3 The Letter Z (Zach & Angelo)
#4 Strawberries for Dessert (Cole & Jonathan)


  1. Hi Janna, How's works going for you. Any vacay detox symtoms?

    Emotional and erotic development, I love that in a story, they are 2 of my key ingradients in stories :) I must go lurk on this authors website for more info.

  2. I really enjoyed the first two books and have held off reading the third for a variety of reasons. I have this one though and am looking forward to it. Great review.

  3. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and I'm looking forward to reading the rest. I've got them in my TBR just have to move them up the line. Great review! :)

  4. I've never read a M/M romance. I just don't see the appeal but I know a lot of people who do enjoy them. I just like to picture myself in there somewhere. lol

  5. Huh. This is a case where the review will make me try the book. The blurb turned me off (I hate arrogant characters) but your review intrigued me. I will have to read an excerpt to decide. I really, really hate arrogant characters, but character development is a big win.

  6. When, o, when will I ever devirginize myself with a m/m romance? *sighs* This one does sound good though. I am a complete sucker for strong development in emotion and romance between characters - so obviously this one sounds right up my alley. I really like the way you broke down the literary elements, Janna! Fantastic review!

  7. Great review, Janna! You're so organized with the categories. I like that a lot. :) Cole does sound like a very non-traditional hero. What you say about the writing style is very perceptive. I think that an author has done it close to perfectly if the reader doesn't notice it and the style is so smooth that it doesn't distract from the story.

    And what a great quote you found about the "art" and the "science" of cooking and baking!

  8. I loved this book, too!

    Hope you're adjusting ok to being back at work...

  9. @Leontine: Oh don't ask about work, lol! It's hard, very hard! I hate it that I can't read as much anymore! And these first days back at work are awefully busy because of the full inbox *sigh*
    But I'm hanging in there! ;)
    Yeah, I think you'll like Marie Sexton's books too!

    @Tam: I don't know about Zach and Angelo but Cole and Jonathan are really worth to spend some time with. I bet you'll enjoy their dynamics! :)

    @Lily: I'm curious what you think of the other books, especially this one, Lily!

    @Danielle: You're not the only one, hon! And yeah, I see your point, lol! Although a m/m romance doesn't stop me picturing myself in there somewhere *g*

    @Erin: Arrogance can be a turn-off for me too, but not in this case. Cole's reason to be arrogant is well explained, I guess. :)

    @Tanya: If you're looking for a few recs for a great romance to pop your m/m cherry let me know, hon! But don't do it if you're not ready yet, you can only lose your virginity once, lol!

    @Val: Thank you, Val! That means a lot coming from you. :)
    I agree with you on the perfectness of the writing style!
    I loved that quote, because it's so fitting for these two guys!

    @Chris: Cool, this is the second book this week we agree on!
    The adjusting to work is going so so, but I hadn't expected it to go easy after four and a half weeks of being lazy. ;)

  10. Lol, I can't see a cover like this anymore without wondering if I have seen it at Chris' place

  11. Yes! :)

    And the answer is - not yet. I haven't seen other covers with those guys.

  12. I LOVED this book. It was the best of the four. I will be reading it again and again and again. I hear tell there will be at least one maybe two more coming. I sure hope so. I love Jon and Cole. *sigh* They totally rock.

  13. @Blodeuedd: I'm the same! She has brainwashed us all. ;)

    @Chris: Mission accomplished regarding B and me! ;D

    @Jambrea: I'd say that's good news! I hope it will be two! :) I'm with you, Jon and Cole are great!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...