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Book CoverStevie‘s review of Baking Lessons (Off Guard, Book 2) by Katie Allen
Contemporary Erotic Romance published by Carina Press 01 Mar 18

It wasn’t until I’d read the book and started my review that I noticedthe publisher classes it as erotic romance, and Amazon tags it as erotica, either of which might well have put me off reading it; however, the sex scenes are no more explicit or frequent than I’ve seen in a number of recent contemporary romance novels. Classification issues not withstanding, the book’s blurb grabbed me from the outset. I love books about characters who make a living from baking or sweet-making, and I’ve enjoyed a fair few series about former military personnel forging new careers and relationships in civilian life. I was also intrigued by the concept of a virgin hero, particularly when said hero was ex-military, and wanted to see how both he and the heroine would handle discussion of the situation.

Leah was taught to bake by her late grandmother, who raised her following the death of her parents in an accident, and she now runs a busy bakery and coffee shop, helped at times by a high school student, but often working on her own. One of her regular customers is the owner of her shop’s premises, Anthony Fitzgerald Hamilton III, who lives at the top of the building and has worked as an actuary since leaving the services. Leah delights in teasing her uptight and very proper landlord, but when she has a rush order of cakes to ice, Hamilton has no problem stepping in to help out.

The pair begin spending time together, in and away from the bakery. Hamilton has trouble forming deep friendships because of his exacting standards and has never been attracted enough to anyone before to overcome his dislike of mess, especially of the type he associates with physical intimacy. With Leah, however, he is prepared to try various forms of sexual contact, and she is more than happy to take things steadily with him.

Their situation is soon complicated, however, when one of Leah’s more pushy customers turns into a stalker. Hamilton takes the threat in his stride and does everything he can to keep Leah safe, but he can’t be with her all the time, and there’s eventually a confrontation.

I was mostly happy with the way the stalker subplot was handled, and didn’t find the sex scenes too intrusive. I would have liked to get more of a feel for Hamilton, ideally by seeing at least some of the scenes from his point of view. It was one particular sex scene, though, that really pushed this story down from a slightly shaky ‘C’ to a definite ‘D’. (Highlight following for spoiler.) In spite of delaying vaginal sex due to not having condoms the first time they end up in bed together, Leah and Hamilton later have unprotected anal sex in the bakery, using butter cream icing as lube. Do I have to list everything that’s wrong with that scenario?

Stevies CatGrade: D


Leah loves everything about her bakery—the heavenly smells, the satisfaction of feeding people and, of course, unlimited cookies. The only thing she doesn’t like is her uptight landlord’s daily visits. Sure, the man’s drop-dead gorgeous, but for someone with an insatiable taste for treats, he’s anything but sweet.

Army vet Hamilton knows he comes off as rigid. He just can’t seem to bite his tongue around Leah—he might be a virgin but he can imagine a dozen better ways to use his mouth. But when the woman he considers absolutely delicious is threatened by an unwanted admirer, Hamilton intervenes, captivating Leah with his softer side.

Now the man Leah couldn’t avoid is swiftly becoming the one she can’t resist. Unrelenting temptation soon overwhelms them both, leading to an indulgence in everything they’ve been craving. But when past actions bring a fallout neither imagined, they’ll be forced to confront whether their affair is half-baked—or something to savor forever.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:
Book Cover