cover image Sweeter than Honey

Sweeter than Honey

Joy Avery. Montlake, $12.95 trade paper (354p) ISBN 978-1-66250-084-8

A fake relationship heals real emotional wounds in Avery’s sexy and sensitive second Honey Hill novel (after Something So Sweet). Widowed baker Rylee Harris impulsively claims to be romantically involved with her good friend Sheriff Canten Barnes in an effort to thwart her mother’s matchmaking attempts. Canten, a widower, agrees to go along with the charade. Each secretly harbors feelings for the other, but their lingering grief over their respective spouses’ deaths and guilt over the prospect of moving on has them avoiding acting on their connection. As their fake relationship heats up, however, their off-the-charts chemistry soon has them rethinking their roles in each other’s lives. But their fledgling romance hits a hurdle when Rylee discovers Canten’s shrine to his late wife, leaving her feeling like she’s competing with a dead woman. Meanwhile, Canten is offered a dream job in another city. Can they save their relationship or is being together simply too complicated? Rylee and Canten are charming, complex characters whose transition from friends to lovers feels wonderfully organic. The eccentric supporting cast brings on some laugh-out-loud moments that perfectly complement the heavy emotions and sizzling romance. This is a must-read. Agent: Elaine Spencer, Knight Agency. (June)