A Sweet Mess & The Dating Dare Reviews

August 16, 2021 by Jenna | 3 stars, 4 stars, Books, Reviews

A Sweet Mess & The Dating Dare ReviewsA Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 14, 2020
Source: Audiobook, Purchased
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Romance
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Korean-American author Jayci Lee delights with this delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Bake a chance on love.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.
When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible...by sharing a villa.
When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

A Sweet Mess and The Dating Dare are companion novels and it’s a little weird for me to be reviewing them in this order because I actually read the newly released The Dating Dare first… but the reason why I ended up picking up A Sweet Mess as well was because even though The Dating Dare could be read standalone, I felt like I had too many gaps in knowledge. Which I’ll get to in my review of The Dating Dare below.

A Sweet Mess follows Aubrey Choi, pastry chef and owner of a bakery called Comfort Zone in the small town of Weldon. After her shop assistant accidentally sells a “franken-cake” (filled with gummy worms, peanut butter and cream cheese) that was meant for a six-year-old’s birthday party to a stranger, Aubrey finds herself worried about the fall-out. But she’s soon too distracted to care when she meets an out-of-towner, Landon, at a local pub and has a one night stand with him. Except, it turns out that Landon is a celebrity food critic and his review of Comfort Zone can only be described as scathing. After Landon realises he was too quick to judge, he tries to make it up to Aubrey by getting her involved in a cooking show that he’s producing. Which leads to all sorts of shenanigans and falling in love.

I quite enjoyed the reading experience of A Sweet Mess and I definitely cannot resist a book that’s all about food, even if the plot isn’t 100% believable. But the story was really quick and easy to read and the pacing of it made for a lovely reading experience. And I absolutely loved Aubrey and really enjoyed reading about her character. Landon, on the other hand, wasn’t really for me and I found it kind of hard to connect with him. And even though there was definitely chemistry between Aubrey and Landon, I couldn’t 100% get behind the romance because I felt like the issues they faced could have been resolved a lot more easily?

I also didn’t really connect with the secondary characters that much, even Tara (who I’d already read about in The Dating Dare prior to reading this novel). And even though some of their stories and journeys were mentioned in the novel, it was at such a surface level that I couldn’t really bring myself to care about them?

Overall, I did enjoy the experience of reading A Sweet Mess and I loved Aubrey, the main character. This would be perfect for you if you’re looking for somethi However, if you’re in it for something to swoon over, this wasn’t really the strongest romance novel for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5

A Sweet Mess & The Dating Dare ReviewsThe Dating Dare (A Sweet Mess, #2) by Jayci Lee
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on August 3, 2021
Source: Purchased
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Romance
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Jayci Lee, author of A Sweet Mess, returns with The Dating Dare—her next witty, chemistry-filled romantic comedy.
Tara Park doesn’t do serious relationships. Neither does she hop into bed with virtual strangers. Especially when that particular stranger is her best friend’s new brother-in-law. It isn’t an easy decision, though. Seth Kim is temptation personified. His unreasonably handsome looks and charming personality makes him easy on the eyes and good for her ego.
When a friendly game of Truth or Dare leads to an uncomplicated four-date arrangement with Seth, Tara can’t say she minds. But their dates, while sweet and sexy, have a tendency to hit roadblocks. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings get frequent and heated.
Seth is leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But soon Seth realizes that Tara Park doesn’t come in a “nice & little” package--she’s funny and bold, sweet and sexy, and everything he ever wanted and never expected to find. Neither of them are ready for something serious and both have past relationship baggage they’ve been ignoring, but with a shot at forever on the line will they follow their hearts and take a chance on happily-ever-after?

I found The Dating Dare to be quite average. As mentioned previously, I read The Dating Dare before A Sweet Mess and found that there were characters who appeared (or were mentioned) but hadn’t been properly introduced. Of course, I can appreciate that they were introduced or things had happened in the previous book, but for something that should be able to be read standalone, it just didn’t feel like a complete book.

The book follows Tara Park, the best friend of Aubrey, and Seth Kim, younger brother of Landon. They’re both not really into long-term, serious relationships so they decide to go on four dates with the promise that they absolutely will not develop feelings for each other, even though they’re undeniably attracted to each other. Their plan of not falling in love pretty much goes out the window after the first date, and the rest of the novel is spent exploring how they work through their developing feelings.

I wasn’t really a fan of the romance at all and felt like Tara and Seth didn’t really have any chemistry. And it didn’t help that their attraction and lust for each other was being forced down our throats every second page. I think I would have appreciated a bit of a slow-burning romance but instead it all went way too quickly and the plot was so focused on the romance that there wasn’t really anything for me to latch on to. What I also found a bit strange was that they had so much in common, from the horrible college girlfriend/boyfriend that has ruined long-term relationships for them since to them both changing majors in college. It wasn’t the commonalities themselves that were strange per se, but Aubrey and Landon also had a lot in common (both had fathers who abandoned them and subsequent daddy issues), so it kind of felt like the author just rinsed and repeated the same approach.

I did appreciate that it was a light and easy read, with mostly likeable characters, but that was about it for me. It wasn’t a bad read by any means but I’m not sure that I’ll be picking up any other books in this series.

I wasn’t a bit fan of The Dating Dare but it was a fun and light read, which boosted its rating for me. I thought the plot was just okay and I didn’t really connect with most of the characters. If you’re looking for something quick and fluffy, you might want to give it a try but I think there are better options out there.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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2 responses to “A Sweet Mess & The Dating Dare Reviews

  1. “A sweet mess” is a must-read for anyone who has ever craved the forbidden. After all, haven’t we all thought about what it would be like to indulge in that “forbidden fruit?” Besides, aren’t we all just looking for someone to love us anyway? “A sweet mess” is one of the best books to read if you enjoy romance, drama, erotica, or just want to read something scandalous.

  2. I felt similarly about The Dating Dare, like I was missing something even though it was supposed to be a standalone novel. I was slightly disappointed with it so am unsure if I want to read A Sweet Mess, especially with the unexpected trope that I am not entirely fond of. I appreciated your review of it.
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