Lips Like Sugar

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Pub Date Mar 28 2024 | Archive Date Apr 01 2024

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"Every once in a while, a book reminds me why I love romance... I couldn't put it down!”

-Sarah MacLean, author of the Hell's Belles series

Mira Harlow has finally lost it. Between running her bakery, parenting her 14-year-old son, and taking care of her mom, she’s a stretched-thin mess. But kissing a total—and very sexy—stranger before begging him to be her date to the biggest wedding her small town has ever seen so her ex won’t think she doesn’t have one? That’s a whole new level of chaos, even for her.

The last thing Cole Sanderson expects when he drives into the ski town of Red Falls, Montana is to score a date to his best friend’s wedding. But since his ex-rocker life in Seattle is stagnating, when the gorgeous, green-eyed bakery owner propositions him to play the role of her long-distance boyfriend, stirring his punk-shenanigans roots to their core, he doesn’t hesitate to say, “Hell yes!”

Mira hopes for a fun night with her fake date, but when their wedding weekend turns into a genuine connection, when Cole returns to Seattle and she tries to go back to her normal life, she wonders if she missed out on something real. But Cole isn’t done with her yet, and when he finds his way back to Red Falls, she’ll have to decide what’s more important: clinging to the neat and tidy life she’s struggled to maintain, or taking a risk, embracing the chaos, and maybe even falling in love.

Lips Like Sugar is book 2 in the Bluebird Basin Romance series but can absolutely be read as a standalone.

Content notes: Living with and caring for a parent with mild cognitive impairment, addiction, relapse, a complicated relationship with an ex.

"Every once in a while, a book reminds me why I love romance... I couldn't put it down!”

-Sarah MacLean, author of the Hell's Belles series

Mira Harlow has finally lost it. Between running her bakery...

Advance Praise

"Every once in a while, a book reminds me why I love romance so much, and Lips Like Sugar is that. I couldn't put it down!"

-Sarah MacLean, author of the Hell's Belles series

"So full of hope: hope for second chances and new beginnings and even more than that, hope for laughter and butterflies and passion even as we walk through some of the hardest human moments of life."

-Kate Clayborn, author of The Other Side of Disappearing

"A gorgeous, thoughtful, soft, and sexy book - everything I love about Jess Hardy!!!"

-Sarah T. Dubb, author of Birding with Benefits

"Cole and Mira's love story made my heart swell so much I almost cracked a rib. A triumph of a novel."

-Anita Kelly, author of Love & Other Disasters

"Only Hardy could make Tiger Balm sexy and teach me more about menopause, all in a beautiful romance about two people who find each other at just the right time."

- Alicia Thompson, USA Today bestselling author of Love in the Time of Serial Killers

"I need all my friends to read and fall in love with Cole and Mira like I did. A must read!"

-Denise Williams, Author of Technically Yours

"...A love song to GenX—aging, changing, and falling in love, and still sexy as hell at 50."

-L.B. Dunbar, USA Today bestselling author of Love in Due Time

"Every once in a while, a book reminds me why I love romance so much, and Lips Like Sugar is that. I couldn't put it down!"

-Sarah MacLean, author of the Hell's Belles series

"So full of hope: hope for...

Available Editions

ISBN 9798988516347
PRICE $4.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Send to Kindle (EPUB)
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Average rating from 146 members

Featured Reviews

Cole Sanderson has ruined me for all other book boyfriends. An untied bowtie and black rimmed reading glasses?! Undyingly attentive to Mira and teasing the line between corny and achingly sweet?! Openly loving with his man-best friend and wrapped around his granddaughters' baby-fingers?! And, Cole won't hold back in telling Mira what she does to him. Regularly. His adoration completely glimmers off the page. I devoured this in hours while laughing out loud, and I wish I could stay in the Bluebird Basin world for longer! Y'all know I love love for people who aren't usually centered in the romance world, and a hot-flash having, Sandwich generation caregiver like Mira is exactly that. There is so much to be said for writing love and making love without mentioning ripped or youthful bodies, and I so appreciate this approach. The pacing was excellent, and the side characters were engaging and loveable too! Sign me up for the eternal Jess K Hardy hype squad!

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A gorgeous, thoughtful, soft, and sexy book - everything I love about Jess Hardy!!!

I didn't think anything could top the sweet magic of Jess Hardy's COME AS YOU ARE, the first book in the Bluebird Basin series, but I love LIPS LIKE SUGAR so very very much. Jess Hardy does an absolutely expert job of giving us mature characters who have some life under their belts but still so much to learn. Watching Cole and Mira develop trust, friendship, and love alongside their sizzling physical chemistry, is just a JOY!

Cole is everything I want in a romance hero--soft, emotional, sexy as hell, and ultimately devoted to making Mira's life easier. And Mira is so special and wonderful: creative, devoted, an active mom and daughter, and a punk at heart.

This book is a fantastic journey I want to travel again and again! Love this series and can't wait for more!

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“Could a person hurt themselves from
Holding back huge smiles all night? Like a mouth sprain?”

Yes Mira, they can- I’ve been smiling through this whole damn book. I’m sitting here in the afterglow massaging my cheeks. Goddamnit it was so good. Fuck insta-love or insta-lust, I’m now here for insta-intimacy, thats exactly what this book felt like, intimate. As soon as Cole and Mira meet they just *clicked* and it was so beautiful and joyful to read. I’ve been loving the Bluebird Basin series and FINALLY reading about people my own age with actual real life issues. Jess just gets it cuz she’s one of us.

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Sometimes a book is just magical. Characters sound and act exactly like you think they would. The writing is funny and clever and sweet. Chemistry is off the charts. They live messy, realistic lives; caring for a teen and an elder and never yourself, recognizing your own destructing/protective patterns, and still repeating them even so, showing up for friends and walking the line between vulnerability and protecting your heart. Lips like sugar is a book that has a rare alchemy of Hardy's mastery and confidence in the world of Bluebird Basin, her writing, and her deep understanding of her characters.

Mira is a baker raising her son and caring for a fading mother. Flustered in front of a now-married ex, she invents a fake date for the wedding they are both attending. Lucky for Mira, in walks Cole, a man made to"Yes, and..." a situation like a boss. Mira kisses him hello with a "babe!' and a whispered apology? Cole follows up with a tiny observed compliment only a long-time partner would think to make. A later scene where they are making up their backstory (and almost burning a bar down with their chemistry) is a delight. What ensues is a relationship build that had me alternating from internal delighted screaming and goosebumps. It's a little gift for someone used to only providing, its communication that gradually deepens in intimacy, its running after the kiss you know you'll regret not having.

Cole is a romance hero for the ages, sexy, vulnerable, deeply committed to his family and friends (one of my highlight notes about something he does is just "A king"). Mira is so used to putting herself last she throws up walls and relationship rules as fast as she can, even though in the end these walls are as stable as a pyramid of Qtips. Their Low Moment comes on the way it does in life, like a car crash you see coming and don't want but can't seem to stop. The way forward comes with reflection and recognition and a push from their people. "She took a step toward him, pulled by that magnetic force that drew her in one direction over and over again: due Cole." Sigh.

I received this book as an arc from Netgalley.

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I'm in love with this story.

This book is the second in the Bluebird Basin series, and we get a peek at Madigan and Ashley, so much love there. The story begins with their wedding and the arrival of Cole, who's the best man and ex-drummer from the rock band Madigan used to shred with back in the '90s. To help out the bride and groom, he swings by Mira's bakery, Glazed and Confused, to pick up an order. Next thing he knows, Mira kisses him and give him the puppy-dog eyes, begging him to play the part of her boyfriend and wedding date. He totally gets into the act, and from there it's all sorts of delightful chaos.

Jess K. Hardy has my heart and eternal gratitude because she penned one of my all-time favorite romances.
Here's why I loved it:

* Protagonists in their 50s
* Awesome music references (I even made a Spotify playlist)
* The best damn first date ever. I'm talking THE BEST.
* Loads of '80s and '90s throwbacks
* Maximum romance without being cheesy
* Cole, MMC, is bisexual, a drummer ("fucking drummers," I even married one), has a daughter and granddaughter, and is the epitome of a "golden retriever"
* Mira, FMC, is a single mom, town baker, intense but reserved, juggling caring for her mom in the early stages of dementia, a teenage son, and running her bakery—all while going through menopause. Phew!
* And it's hella steamy. Like, seriously. Hot stuff.
* I swooned and fanned myself endlessly
* Cole's eternal crush on Madigan is gold, look at this: "Yo, Mad!" Cole called out, breaking into a grin when Madigan—the man, the myth, the legend—came into view at the top of the stairs. His beard, those piercing, crystal blue eyes, his shoulders stretching the seams of a dark gray Henley, pushed Cole’s pause button too. He looked even bigger than he’d been at Flannelfest four months ago, and he’d been so big then, Cole had fallen into a lumberjack TikTok spiral for a solid week afterward." HOT!

We talk a lot about representation, and I've never felt more seen by characters like these two, especially Mira. This book beautifully shows that us Gen Xers might be more mature, but we still have our insecurities, still make mistakes with ourselves and others. There's a generosity in the author's writing that moved me deeply.

Thank you NetGalley for let me read this ARC.
ARC provided by Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op
#LipsLikeSugar #NetGalley

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Yes, just YES! Mira and Cole 100% gave Ashley and. Madigan a run for their money. I truly thought they wouldn't be able to reign as my favorite Hardy couple, but they absolutely did.

I wish I could show you the amount of passages I highlighted, it was so good. From how they first met and sparks were flying everywhere. That instant connection with some fantastic, "this is everything I want and more in a romcom movie". Pure perfection on all fronts. I simply couldn't stop grinning while reading.

And I want everyone to pick this up, add it to your TBR or even add it to your neighbor's TBR. Loved it!

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