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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ARC Review: Enemies on Tap by Avery Flynn

I discovered Avery Flynn through her romantic suspense-lite Killer Style series and really like her voice and writing style, so I jumped at the chance to check out her new small-town contemporary Sweet Salvation Brewery series. The enemies-to-lovers (with a side of reunited first love) trope is one I enjoy due to the inherent snark and drama, and ENEMIES ON TAP delivers with Ms. Flynn’s trademark humour, knack for witty repartee, and penchant for spunky, relatable heroines and flawed-but-likeable heroes. Though not particularly innovative, ENEMIES ON TAP is a fun, quick read and an enjoyable start to a series that fans of contemporaries—and especially those who enjoy enemies-to-lovers stories—should check out.

Miranda Sweet has avoided her hometown of Salvation, Virginia, like the plague since fleeing to the big city to escape the stigma of her surname. Albeit one of the founding families of Salvation, the Sweets are considered personae non gratae in the small town and the recipients of much scorn and ridicule due to their generally unorthodox (and mostly unlawful) behaviour. Triplets Miranda, Natalie, and Olivia Sweet grew up trying to be ‘normal’ and fighting against that inherent prejudice without much success… especially in Miranda’s case for making the mistake of falling for Salvation’s Prince Charming—and heir apparent to the upstanding Martin family, Logan—as a teen. Now a successful acquisitions specialist working for a financial firm in the big city, Miranda has returned to Salvation to turn the brewery she and her sisters have inherited from their kooky Uncle Julian (whose motto was “Live Free, Die High”) into a financial success and earn herself that respectable corner office. Her boss from hell has decreed that she must use local funding for the project in an attempt to sabotage her chances of that promotion, so Miranda finds herself needing to ask the Martins—owners of the only bank in town and Hatfields (or Montagues) to her family’s McCoys (or Capulets)—for a loan. But Martin patriarch and avid Sweet hater Larry is no longer the bank president, with his son (and Miranda’s high school love) Logan acting in his stead. Logan has plans to incorporate the brewery’s lot into an industrial park—a project of his own making that doesn’t have his father’s stamp all over it—and so Miranda and Logan again find themselves on opposite sides of a great divide with the town firmly in Logan’s camp and willing to do anything to see Miranda fail. Bets are made. Shenanigans ensue. Sexual tension abounds. A little mystery subplot takes place. Sexytimes in the bank vault are had. A judgmental small town is schooled.

I really liked Miranda and thought Ms. Flynn did an excellent job making her someone who’s suffered undeserved lifelong scorn and bullying simply for having been born into a highly dysfunctional (by conservative standards) but loving family and who’s learnt to deal with and try to overcome the knocks without becoming hopelessly embittered. She’s a class act whenever someone throws her family in her face and perseveres even when the entire town is clearly against her. And who can’t relate to and empathize with her lifelong goal of distancing herself from the unsavoury legacy of her name and prove that she’s not “just another Sweet” from a backwater Virginia town, only to realise that maybe the route to true happiness involves accepting—and embracing—the crazy? Ms. Flynn does a great job writing Miranda’s internal conflict between the life she thinks she wants in the big city and the yearning for the one person she knows she shouldn’t want but can’t help falling head over heels for, whilst still keeping it lighthearted. The little battles between Logan and Miranda were great fun and the banter hilarious, and the love scenes were scorching hot.

Logan was a much harder her for me initially—the man is an absolute wanker, both back in high school and when Miranda first comes back to town. He’s so caught up on the ‘upholding the Martin surname’ bullshit and his family’s—and the town’s—prejudice that it’s hard to feel bad for him for having been shoehorned into being the prince of Salvation against his wishes by his bully of a father (a truly unlikeable fellow). The industrial park he wants to build on the brewery land is the first and only thing that’s truly his own so I can empathize with his desire to see it succeed, but the way he tries to sabotage and undermine Miranda’s efforts to ensure his own success is deplorable. Luckily for him, he realises the error of his ways and how poorly he—and the rest of the town—treat Miranda and the Sweets and redeems himself in a thoroughly swoon-worthy way that had me rooting for him and his HEA with Miranda at the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed ENEMIES ON TAP and look forward to reading the other Sweet triplets’ stories and revisiting Salvation in the (hopefully near) future!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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