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Miles thought he and Itai would make a great team, despite the infidelities haunting their past. After all, Itai is smoking hot, they’re both driven entrepreneurs, and they love each other. What else did a person need? Well, a lot more, apparently, because not only are they no longer passionate, they don’t even share the same passions. Like people, affections change, but Miles wonders if a relationship this broken is truly worth repairing.
Itai’s business launch with his ex-boyfriend isn’t helping. And Miles himself has a new business to grow over a busy few weeks where Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collide to form either the best holiday season ever, or a kosher caterer’s worst nightmare. But help comes in the unexpected, ruggedly handsome form of Detective Dominic Delbene, a pickle aficionado with his own ghosts, who stakes out the deli to capture a dangerous drug dealer.
As Hanukkah’s eight days and Miles and Itai’s relationship comes to an end, Miles discovers that Nic is not only good with pickling; he’s good at everything.
I love Astrid Amara’s holiday stories – they all feel so, ‘homey’ and down to earth. This one was no exception. It was a different kind of romance, that’s for sure. But it worked and it felt natural.
Why did I say different?
Well, for one thing, Miles was in relationship with his boyfriend Itai, for almost 90% of the book, even if the relationship felt like it reached the end. They were both busy with different things – Miles with his pickle shop and deli, Itai with his app launch (that he started with his own ex, Travis, the one Itai on cheated Miles with!) – and everyday it felt like there were more distances between them. Then came along Dominic (“Nic”) Delben, an Italian detective who needed to use Miles’s deli as part of an undercover operation, who shared Miles’s love for food and running the deli.
This was what I meant by it felt natural. Relationship could die even if the people involved were trying to make it through. What happened with Miles and Itai wasn’t forced – they just didn’t share the same life purpose anymore. What I loved about this story was, that in the end, Astrid Amara didn’t just make Itai the bad guy. Miles could see that he could still be friends with Itai – they just didn’t fit as a couple.
Throughout, I enjoyed the love that bloomed between Miles and Nic, amidst, the easy banter, their passion for food and sampling the menu (food porn! *lol*). Their scenes together made up for the fact that Miles and Nic didn’t get together until the last chapter. I admit I was slightly worried that Miles would cheat on Itai – Itai cheated on him, so why didn’t he, right? But nope, Miles wasn’t a cheater, so he contemplated about this friendship with Nic but he didn’t act on it until he was out of the relationship with Itai. Even if Nic made him happier than ever.
Other than that, I really liked the story and the customers too. I have a soft heart to stories that set in small café or restaurant or deli like this (Merlin AU coffee shop *sigh*). The atmosphere seemed peaceful and inviting. Oh, and Miles’s family – especially his mother, such a delight, even if I only ‘knew’ of her through Miles’s phone conversation.
My only complaint would probably be the contrast between Itai and Nic. Oh, I know that it was necessary somewhat, to make it easier for us readers to root for Nic. But these two men came truly different with one another, so it was, well too easy for Miles to choose Nic over dying relationship with Itai. I guess I sort of wanted a small conflict, a deeper inner struggle in Miles when he made the decision.
All in all, another charming holiday novella from Astrid Amara – I guess it has become one of my annual tradition, waiting for her Hanukkah story at this time of year…
Title: Sweet and Sour
Author: Astrid Amara
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Purchase Links: Loose-ID