by Jill Winters

September 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21214-2
Reviewer Graphic Button New American Library
Trade Paperback

Raspberry Crush is Billy Cabot's favorite drink and its part sweet, part tart flavor mirror her life at this point in time. She lost her job at Net Circle six months ago when the company went belly-up. Her current job at Bella Donna Bakery may not pay as well, but she is able to put her artistic creativity to work. She has a boyfriend who is kind, but there is not a whole lot of chemistry. She has to deal with her overbearing mother. Life may not be perfect, but it is good.

Her world is turned upside down after her ex-boyfriend; Seth, shows up one day at the bakery. He broke her heart when he moved away several years ago. Seeing him again stirs up old feelings and memories. It looks like he will only be in town for a short time, but that time is extended after someone dies at the Dessert Jubilee, an event they were both involved in. At first it looks like a severe allergic reaction caused the death, but Billy is not so sure. She and Seth begin looking into things on their. Their relationship heats up quicker even than the clues in the case.

There is a great deal of tension between Billy and Seth from the beginning, so the reader just knows the sparks will burst into flames. There are some scenes so sizzling and real, the reader may want to wear fireproof gloves to handle the book. Seth is an alpha hero, but has a tender side, too. Billy is a heroine who is intelligent and can take care of herself, but she is torn between what is "safe" and what her heart truly wants. She is an empathetic character, as we all struggle at some time with decisions about relationships and jobs that will impact our lives.

The secondary characters are mixture of quirky and down to earth and well fleshed out. The small details including the yummy drink of the title give the story richness and depth.

This book is mostly marketed to the "chick-lit" readers, but it is still a story of love, family and second chances that can appeal to women of all ages.

Reviewed in September 2004 by Roberta.

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