Sweet Surprise (Sweet, Texas #4) by Candis Terry
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Source: ARC for Tour from Edelweiss
Goodreads • Amazon
Playing naughty or nice . . .
Fiona Wilder knows all about falling in lust. Love? That's another story. Determined not to repeat past mistakes, the single mom and cupcake shop owner is focused on walking the straight and narrow. But trouble has a way of finding her. And this time it comes in the form of a smoking hot firefighter who knows all the delicious ways to ignite her bad-girl fuse.
Can lead to heartbreak . . .
Firefighter Mike Halsey learned long ago that playing with fire just gets you burned. He's put his demons behind him, and if there's one line he won't cross, it's getting involved with his best friend's ex. But when fate throws him in the path of the beautiful, strong, and off-limits Fiona, will he be able to fight their attraction? Or will he willingly go down in flames?
Or a sweet surprise!
As a single mother, Fiona is doing her best to navigate the many responsibilities that follow. Her daughter is her world, and while she wants to find the one someday, little Isabella and her dream of owning her own cupcake shop come first. So she makes the move to Sweet, Texas to be closer to the support of her surrogate family. Enter Mike, the hotter-than-hell fireman who makes her reconsider her own "serious relationships only" promise. They both have their histories, but the possibility of being together may be just what they need to let go.
Fiona and Mike as characters were definitely solid. They had a lot of baggage from their pasts that manifested in—what felt to me like—real, believable interactions (perhaps with the exception of Fiona's camaraderie with her ex-husband, but only because I've never seen two people as enviably amicable post-divorce). But, despite their respective hang-ups, they worked hard to move past them in order to be together. I also really enjoyed Fiona's—and eventually Mike's— devotion to and consideration for Fiona's daughter. That had the maternal instincts going haywire in the best way. On top of that, Fiona's drive and determination with regards to her business were admirable and likable qualities. In both cases, our leads certainly strong, worthy characters with enough flaws and missteps for intrigue and believability.
Perhaps my favorite aspects of this book were the little town of Sweet and the lively, genuine characters that inhabit it. The family and small-town dynamics of the Wilders and the rest of the residents were brimming with charm, humor, and all-around entertainment value. Sure, there are elements that aren't so new—the meddling, matchmaking matriarch (Ha! Alliteration!) for instance—but they all worked within the story for me and I never got hung up on whether they might be tired or trope-ish.
Sweet Surprise was the perfect cute read for a decompression weekend. I had a lot going on while I was making my way through it and the book I'd been reading before really hadn't been doing it for me, but this book was the perfect way to bring my stress down. It was a pretty quick read, but not in a way that detracted from the overall story. It was the textbook fun, light read, with enjoyable characters and interactions, but a healthy dose of heart. If you're a romance fan and looking for a way to relax, look no further! The town of Sweet, Texas has you covered.
Excerpt from Sweet Surprise
“Then maybe this won’t work out.” She eased her hand from his and instantly missed the fire in his touch.
“Maybe.” Those broad shoulders beneath that fresh cotton T-shirt lifted in a nonchalant shrug. “I’m willing to give it a shot if you are.”
Give what a shot, she wanted to ask. The actual work? Or the sexual tension that ignited between them like gasoline and matches?
A sigh expanded her chest. “If you’re going to work for me there can’t be any flirting. Or touching.”
His smile widened to a grin. “It’ll be a pleasure working under you.”
Interview with Candis Terry
Hello! Thank you so very much for having me here today! Well, I do love my cowboys. I live on a farm in an agricultural area and there might be more rodeos here per year than anywhere else. When my daughter was involved in the rodeo circuit I got an eyeful of those cowboys. And I’m not complaining! Writing a series set in Texas was a very exciting venture for me. I’d been to Texas many times. I have relatives in Texas. And I just really love the state and its people. So the possibility of being able to do research and spend a little more time there was very appealing. Plus, Texas just seems to have very hearty people, and I knew the Wilder bunch was going to have to come from someplace that had a lot of guts and grit.
Where did you get the inspiration for Sweet, Texas?
I put boots on the ground and traveled all through the Texas Hill Country and I found more inspiration than I could have ever imagined. Sweet, Texas is really a combination of the small towns of Boerne and Comfort. I love these places! Sweet’s favorite fashionista goat, Miss Giddy, would not have come to pass had I not been driving through Comfort and seen an adorable little shop with that name. The sweet potato fries served at Bud’s Nothing Finer Diner may not have made it to the page if I hadn’t discovered the delicious ones at Soda Pop’s in Boerne. And Wilder & Son’s Hardware and Feed may never have opened its doors if it hadn’t been for Bergmann Lumber. There were so many places I discovered that I just couldn’t wait to come back home and create the little town that has become so near and dear to my heart.
What are your favorite characteristics in female and male leads?
Strength and the ability to push past their problems. Anyone who has read my books knows I write very flawed characters. And sometimes their stubbornness drives me a little crazy (Hello, Jackson Wilder from Sweetest Mistake!). But honestly, I want these characters to be as real as the people I meet every day. Real people are complex. They aren’t always nice. They have pasts that mold them into who they have become. Personally, I can tell you why I am the way I am and what caused me to be that way. Characters in books must act and react in the same way real people do. But in a story, the reader must admire or even relate to the characters. And that can only come from giving the characters enough depth and enough strength to overcome their issues and be brave enough to reach out there and grab hold of what really matters. I don’t create wimpy characters because I can’t tolerate them. I want to create characters who, at the end of the day, can be proud of themselves for the way they handled something. Even if they have a tough road getting there. And I want to create characters that the reader will (hopefully) remember long after they close the book.
Is there a part of Sweet Surprise that you really love? What makes it special?
Okay, narrowing it down to just one part is really hard . . . but . . . (groan) okay, I’m going to divide this up into a part that I really love and a scene that I really love. How about that?
The part that I really love is Fiona’s love and relationship with her daughter. I was once a single mom and my daughter is now a single mom. It’s a tough job. Fiona questions herself all the time and wonders if she’s doing a good enough job with Izzy so her daughter will grow up with the least amount of baggage possible. She works hard to achieve that dream, but she’s realistic enough to know that she’s not perfect and somewhere along the way she’s going to hit a brick wall. But her love for Izzy is apparent in everything she does. And I love that part about her.
The scene that I really love is the one where Jana calls in her charity donation from the Black Ties and Levi’s Bachelor Auction and asks Fireman Mike to help Fiona move into her new house and get her cupcake shop started. Poor Mike isn’t quite sure what to make of Jana and her request, but it gives him the opportunity to look at things a different way. It helps him leave his baggage at the curb and open the door to his dream, even if he gets there kicking and screaming all the way.
Fiona and Mike both have a lot of baggage, but they’re both strong characters and after a few bumps and bruises, are able to push forward and grab hold of what really matters.
Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She's experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to scooping up road apples left by her daughter's rodeo queening horse to working as a graphic designer. Only one thing has remained constant: Candis' passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. Though her stories are set in small towns, Candis' wish is to give each of her characters a great big memorable love story rich with quirky characters, tons of fun, and a happy ending.