Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Anything But Vanilla by Liz Fielding

April/May 2013
Available for pre-order from
The Book Depository

Sorrel Amery is determined to make her summer event the talk of the town, and she knows just the way into people's hearts-champagne sorbet! It's the perfect strategy... Until the ice cream parlour's owner runs off, leaving Sorrel's plans melting faster than a sundae in the summer sun. 
All Sorrel wants is to get back into her comfort zone, but when the gorgeous Alexander West arrives to help pick up the pieces her life gets shaken up more than ever before! Especially as this globe-trotting adventurer is determined that nothing in Sorrel's life should ever be boring old vanilla again...

When Alexander West flies halfway across the world to rescue a close friend’s ice-cream parlour, he makes three alarming discoveries – the business has been issued with an insolvency notice, said friend has disappeared and… gorgeous, sexy businesswoman Sorrel Amery is in the shop’s stockroom, raiding the freezer.

But Sorrel is no thief. As the CEO of Scoop, it’s her job to deliver ice-cream experiences to special events — like the celebrity studded tennis party currently top of her agenda. If she doesn’t get the ices she’s ordered, her reputation will be in ruins.

So when Alex announces that he wants the stock back in the freezer and her off the premises, she takes a determined step forward, intending to search the kitchen for the rest of her order.

Only, Alex won’t let her past. 

She tries pleading. But he’s adamant that nothing can leave the premises until he’s completed an inventory of the assets. In a last ditch attempt to change his mind, she offers a wide-screen, Technicolor, smile and murmurs 'Alexander.. this is important.'

Her action prompts him to ask in a low, dangerously soft voice “How important?”

The next moment he’s kissing her —and she’s making no attempt to stop him. Just the opposite in fact. Totally mesmerised, she arches towards him, lifting her arms and sliding them round his neck, “her body wanting more, wanting him.”

Abruptly he breaks the connection. Thanks to her inexplicable meltdown she’s managed to confirm his belief that she’s the type of girl who thinks she can get whatever she wants in business by flirting.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Sorrel has chosen career over romance and is totally focused on building her business. She does not do lust at first sight.

Her reaction to his kiss marked one of those rare occasions when she’d lost all sense and given into her mother’s wayward genes. A totally  uncharacteristic lapse, given that  Sorrell is determined not to be like her mother (a serial single mother with a propensity for rough-hewn travelling men.) Sorrell wants a man with drive and ambition. Somebody who’ll always be there for her – somebody like her secure, safe and totally dependable mentor, Graeme.

Alex might be overwhelmingly sexy with his “thick brown hair that brushed his shoulders and flopped untidily around his face…and the kind of skin deep tan you didn’t get from two weeks on a beach.” But how can she possibly allow herself to have a crazy fling with a man who clearly follows a beach bum lifestyle and will be gone in days?

Yet despite everything, she experiences such a strong sense of physical attraction that she’s sorely tempted to forget safe and dependable and seize the day in a “live-now-pay-later physical response.”

Seize the day is the book’s theme. Sorrel is locked into a vanilla lifestyle — seeking security and safety in everything she does. But until she learns to be less in control of her life and emotions, ditch her five-year plan and trust her instincts, she’ll never be truly happy .

And emotionally distant, detached, uninvolved Alex, who’s never had a home and is  focused exclusively on exploring distant jungles, illustrates a different side of the theme.

Unlike Sorrel, Alex has no trouble seizing the moment.  His life is full of fresh and exciting opportunities. But instead of experiencing these moments on his own, he needs to learn to open himself up to the warmth and fun of sharing them with another person.

Each leads the other towards emotional change, culminating in Sorrel giving into the attraction and seizing the moment in a night of passion with Alex.  She knows full well that he’ll leave her in a few days, but is done with playing safe with her heart and her head.

Alex proves  the more resistant one. Although he revels in Sorrel’s warm considerate emotionally connecting nature, and has come to a point where he can share confidences with openness and trust, he still backs away from emotional involvement  and returns to his work in the rainforest determined to remain heart whole.

At this point it seems as though Alex will never change his belief about the type of life he wants or the person he is, but in wonderfully emotional final chapter, he experiences a shattering epiphany that totally changes the direction of his emotions and brings about the necessary happy ending.

This book was an absolute pleasure to review. The pacing is smooth (back story is kept to a minimum until well past the second half of the story ) the pages are packed with sizzling sexual tension, deeply experienced emotion and crisp, concise dialogue.

4 1/2  columns (I’d have liked just a hint at the start of the story that the hero’s present life felt a little empty — a suggestion of restlessness.)

1 comment:

  1. I was a little leery of the title, but this sounds like a good read :-) Excellent review!


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