Book Review: Sweet Tea by Piper Huguley
A Southern, interracial romance about finding out your big dreams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and maybe what you were looking for was at home all along. Althea has reached the pinnacle; being made partner in a prestigious intellectual property law firm in New York. But she hasn’t been home to Milford, Georgia, in five years. She’s worked hard to change everything about herself, erasing her Southern accent and even wearing makeup two shades lighter than her natural skin tone. She’s feeling oddly dissatisfied, though, and when she finds out her grandmother, a legendary cook, is collaborating with an unknown filmmaker, Althea flies home to make sure her grandmother isn’t giving away her intellectual property rights for nothing.
Jake Darwent is an intriguing hero for a romance novel; a trust fund brat who has walked away from his family’s expectations and is determined to make his own way, he’s a serious foodie on a mission to document authentic Southern cuisine by interviewing the custodians of the recipes, women like Althea’s grandmother. Althea turning up isn’t going to derail him, no matter how much she apparently dislikes him.
I was a bit thrown by the fact that Jack and Althea don’t even meet until 20% of the way into the story, in chapter 6. And this is a Hallmark, which naturally means ‘chaste’ but… to me, chaste shouldn’t mean basically complete non-contact, which is what we get… they barely kissed. And yet, at one point, there’s a definite implication that Jake is pleasuring himself thinking about Althea before he falls asleep!
I loved all the foodie stuff, Althea’s family and her eventual path and the decisions she makes, as well as the history of Milford College and the way it was inextricably tied up with Althea’s own family history. I very much liked Jake as a character and I totally bought into the possibility of a romance between them, but I did want more of the actual romance to be shown on the page. You can absolutely show love and intimacy without requiring your characters to have sex, but for me, the intimacy in the romance was lacking here. I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.