Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Tart and Sweet
SERIES: Candy Man #4
AUTHOR: Amy Lane
NARRATOR: Philip Alces
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 7 hours, 47 minutes
RELEASE DATE: August 1st, 2017
In the Army, Robbie Chambers turned on his lover out of fear—and he hasn’t been able to live with himself since. Now he’s out of the Army but still trapped in the closet that brought on his most cowardly moment, and he starts to think he’ll never be able to fight his way free.
Until he sees Cy McVeigh. Beautiful and uninhibited, Cy is dancing on the boardwalk at Old Sac for no other reason than the moment called for it. Robbie not only joins in the dance but is smitten from the very beginning.
However, Robbie still has old business to clear up, and when he helps out a kid in need and comes face-to-face with the man he betrayed, he’s forced to come clean with himself. He can’t redeem his mistake if he’s still locked into his old patterns, and he won’t ever be worthy of Cy if he can’t earn Adam’s forgiveness. He’s going to need all the help he can get from the people at Candy Heaven in order to make things right with his past so he can have a future with Cy.
Seriously, the only way this book could have been better was with some awesome narration. And that is exactly what we get with the audio book version!
This series started with Candy Man, and wraps up With Tart and Sweet, the fourth book. The series basically follows the lives of a group of men that work at, or frequent as customers, a candy shop in Sacramento called Candy Heaven. The owner of the store, Darrin, has some special powers, and seems to draw damaged or needy people to him, with the goal of healing them. In Candy Man, we met Adam. Adam was in the Army, and in love with a man named Robbie. Robbie abandoned him in a bad moment, and Adam left the Army in a bad mental state. Partly due to family issues, but a whole lot of it was due to Robbie. Adam eventually ends up working at Candy Heaven, and with the meddling of Darrin, falls in love with, and is healed by Finn, his boyfriend.
Bitter Taffy follows Rico, Adam’s cousin, as he falls in love with Derek. Lollipop follows Ezra, Rico’s ex-boyfriend, as he falls in love with Miguel. So each book features a couple, but they all intertwine, as the men build a close-knit family. The bad guy that has always hovered in the past, has been Robbie, the guy that screwed over Adam. He is mentioned here and there, as the cause for some of Adam’s issues. Finally, in Tart and Sweet, Robbie gets his redemption story.
Robbie has left the Army and has come home, or close to it, settling near his family. He has a decent paying job at a warehouse, where he can be the muscle but not have to think. He has a crappy apartment, and has managed to find a bitchy girlfriend. He has no real attachment to his family, has no friends to speak of, and only has the girlfriend because he thinks he should. He has a couple of life-changing encounters on his way to dinner with his parents. He and the bitchy girlfriend dance with a pretty man on the street, who slips a card in Robbie’s back pocket. The other life-changing encounter is rescuing a young man who has been hit by a car, and asks to be taken to his boyfriend who works at Candy Heaven. And happens to be…. you guessed it, Adam, Robbie’s ex-boyfriend, and deepest regret. This all leads to Robbie dumping the girlfriend, getting some counseling and support from Darrin and Ezra, and eventually having a healing conversation with Adam. But best of all…. getting it on with Cy, the pretty man from the street!
Whew. So most of this story is about Robbie dealing with his shit. Confronting his own feelings and why he fucked over Adam. Confronting his parents and coming out to them. Confronting Adam himself, and Finn, Adam’s strongest defender. Confronting his own lack of motivation to form attachments. All while falling in love with Cy. In some ways, Cy is a secondary character. He is the catalyst to much of Robbie’s healing, but Cy is so balanced, that he doesn’t need to do anything but fall in love with Robbie. He stays pretty happy and stable throughout the whole story, which is a very nice balance to Robbie’s drama. He supports Robbie in all he does. He does have to work a bit to admit he’s in love, but he never really has any issues. This is totally Robbie’s story.
The two form a bond pretty quickly, this is darn close to insta-love. Well, insta-lust I guess, since they fuck really fast. But they jump right in to dating, and love follows fast. The sex is super hot, and the sweetness comes out to play as they continue to grow closer. I loved how Robbie grows, making friends, falling in love, facing his issues, all with the support of Cy. This is not a super complex plot, but the characters are what makes it special. Not only Robbie and Cy, and all of the series characters, but we also see characters from other books sneaking in from Amy’s Promise Rock series as well. So fun to see!
I have loved each of these books individually, and collectively. I love how the characters all interact, forming such a wonderful family. I love that each story grows, and builds on the next and next and next. Now we have the final book, and it holds its own with the other three. Robbie needed his redemption, and….. does he get it? Read the book and see!
Read this series, read this book, and better yet, listen to all of them!
The narration for this book, and the whole series, was just perfect. I’ve been re-listening to my Amy Lane audio book collection, and listened to the first three books in this series within the last month I guess, without realizing this one was due out, so I was familiar with the narration. Philip Alces narrates all four books, and that works very well. I just listened to another series, and the narrator changed, which I found annoying… So, it was great to have all of the voices consistent through the whole series. Philip’s voices for each character are clear, it’s easy to tell who is who. There aren’t many accents, but the ones there are, he does well. He enhances the sex scenes with lovely moans and groans, in all the right places! He gets the passion and emotions just right, I could really hear the pain in Robbie’s voice at times, and hear the pleasure both Robbie and Cy share. His female voices are well done, which can be hard to do. Another challenge with audio books is keeping the voices separate with multiple characters in a conversation, and Philip rocked that as well!
Overall, Philip’s narration made a great book, and a great series, just a little bit better!