I was excited to read Sweethand ever since N.G. Peltier shared the blurb and cover, so I preordered it and then gleefully downloaded an audio review copy when that option came up. The premise: enemies-to-lovers with a music producer and a baker who have to work together as best man and maid of honor at a wedding? It's like 5 kinds of Suzanne catnip. Besides, from the minute I read this f/f PNR flash fiction on her site, I was eager for more of her work. It's delightfully queer and steamy.
As for Sweethand, I really enjoyed the story. Cherisse and Keiran have an antagonistic relationship based on a few years of misconceptions and somewhat immature competition, but it's not a mean relationship. I really enjoyed the build of their relationship. A lot of the "I will NOT have feelings" foolishness that I love. The community Peltier built is distinctly Trinidadian and effortlessly queer. The bi hero gets to just be himself. No one pretends there isn't bias against bisexual men, but he's not getting slurs thrown at him.
There are a couple of pacing issues (the bleak moment was really late, for one) but I liked the characters--especially the found family and Cherisse's sister--enough that I didn't care much. It was also hard for me to read Kieran's relationship with his father, but that's a personal thing and not a dig at the book. If you have a business-over-people parent, you might appreciate being aware of that going in. Cherisse's ex is also a manipulative cheating liar and Kieran's ex cheated, too.
More things I liked:
- Cherisse is a baker with a major sweet tooth. Some authors try to have their cake and not-eat it too. Their foodie characters are constantly preparing food but have a super slim body and/or don't eat their creations. Cherisse loves food and her rounded body. (Kieran loves it too.)
- Kieran and Cherisse's chemistry is just... it's really good. This isn't erotic romance, but Peltier deserves a spot in the Good Sex Awards.
- Cherisse's sister and fiancé. Kieran and Cherisse are best man and maid of honor and have to work on the Jack & Jill party together. It's such a cool party! I wish I could go to a nap corner at a party.
- Both of them have careers they love. When Kieran inadvertently messes with Cherisse's professional reputation (and after his friends call him on it) he works hard to make it right, even though they're still in the enemies part of the enemies-to-lovers arc.
Unfortunately, the audio narration didn't work for me. I pushed through entirely on the strength of the story, but it's one narrator for both POVs and she doesn't differentiate enough between character voices for me to keep track of who was speaking. Sort of like she was reading me the book instead of performing it.
Overall, I recommend Sweethand, but maybe consider reading in print instead of audio. I also recommend having some sort of sweet food nearby while reading. You'll be hungry.
Content Warnings: strained parental relationship, cheating (not MCs, past)
I purchased a digital copy of this book and received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher for review.