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.
“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)