Cover Image: Sweet Surprise

Sweet Surprise

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Member Reviews

What a wonderful read and a different take on girl meets girl love.  This is well written and worth the read.  I really enjoyed the characters and the storyline.  Once I started I couldn't put it down.  I highly recommend.
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If you are a fan of Jenny Frame then you will not go wrong with this book. It follows the usual line of a butch/femme relationship where the femme needs help and protection. 
I loved the Dexter, the dog and I liked how Flora anxiety issues weren't easily solved when finding love, yet it continued to be a constant struggle in her daily life. The connection between Flora and Mack's niece Isy who suffers from the same OCD and anxiety was a good way to set up the story in which Flora had to overcome her mental issues and show herself that's she's strong in her own right. 
Mack, eh, I liked her well enough, but the relationship she develops with Flora one of dependency and I'm not really into that. I get why Flora would fall for her knight in shining armour, but the other way around?
Either way a book that will appeal to a lot of readers.

***Thank you Netgalley and Bold Stroke Books for the chance to read and review this book***
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I was happily fooled by the sweet cover art. Thinking this would be a nod to Willy Wonka, in some ways it was, but with a seedy underbelly, some mafia-style turf wars, and a HEA- this book was the sugar crush I needed. A bit fluffy when it came to dialogue between the two mains, but it was great fun. The pup stole the show a few times and being a pup lover I was all smiles and laughter with how that wee dog ran the roost. It is a quick read, there's a bit of love, some steam your windows moments, violence, spectrum and psyc discussions, finding family, and then a happily ever after- this book ticks all the boxes and makes  for a great read.
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I love the dynamics of Jenny Frames characters. The butch/femme opposites and the not so perfect characters. Flora with several mental health issues is relatable and makes you root for her to find peace and happiness. Mack's background is a bit sadder, the reason she went to jail is kind of heartbreaking for a romantic themed book, but it makes it more thrilling and intriguing.

Unexpectedly Flora and Mack connect at a deeper level and help each other emotionally.
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When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it.  However, as I continued to read, I really did enjoy it.
The book focuses around Flora who owns a candy shop that was given to her by her grandfather.  Mack owns a barbershop that just opened up.  Also, it is a few doors down from Flora's.  
The two women had briefly met one evening not so long ago.  When a group of men start to accost Flora, Mack sees it and has her men take care of the situation.  What Flora does not know at that time, is Mack is a member of the infamous crime family, the Sharkeys.
Mack is drawn to her even though Flora has a host of mental health issues that makes Flora afraid of a great deal.  
I would recommend this.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I definitely haven't had the best luck with books these past few weeks. I am certainly in the minority on some of them - like this one - so take that as you will.

One evening, Flora Buchanan is hurrying to her car when a group of men start hassling her. Mack Sharkey, enforcer for a crime family, happens to see it on one of the cameras inside the establishment and hurries out with some of her people to rescue Flora. Before Mack can check on Flora, she's gone.

Then Mack spends a year and a half in prison, and it's two years later. Is the prison part important? Nope. It seems to be there just to provide a gap, and to tell us how noble Mack is, by taking the rap and serving the time so her sister, who is head of the family, does not have to. Message received.

The Sharkeys have been legit for ages, it seems, but still police their territory in Glasgow. Mack, with some seed money fro the family, starts up a barber shop. And guess who has opened a candy shop right next door? Of course, it's Flora. I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed it wasn't a flower shop, for obvious reasons.

We find out that Flora is a bundle of mental health issues: social anxiety (same, girl!), OCD, PTSD. This was first thing to stop and wonder about: why on earth does someone with social anxiety open a store where interactions with people are not expected, but required? Not just adults, either: kids. And kids are right little monsters sometimes. It's never really explained what the PTSD stems from, and I guess it doesn't make any difference anyway, but I'd have liked to have known. 

In any case, Mack starts up her barbering and the word starts getting out that she's there, so business picks up fairly quickly. Flora's shop also starts drawing people in, including Mack, who remembers saving her from the dudes in the parking lot that night. Little by little, Mack helps Flora work on her mental health issues (and later in the book, helps convince her to get to a therapist).

A pause here, and one of my complaints about the genre (or course). Mack is an (of course) superbutch. Do they all need to have superdudenames? Mack, Ben (another I read right after this), etc. Mack's also the enforcer for the family - but we get no sense at all of what she looks like beyond her eyes, really. How tall is she? Is she a fairly large person? I mean, I know we can fill in the blanks and assume so, but every so often, I wonder what would happen if someone wrote a superbutch character with the name Gloria, who was nicknamed Glo, an who was the enforcer for a crime family, because if you got out of line or did something to the family, she'd light you up. I'd read that. I love gangster stories. But here we have Mack, a solid, one syllable named woman who is not unused to violence, caring for the shrinking violet, Flora, and getting into savior complex territory.

Second pause, this time about Flora and the obvious codependence that was ramping up. It's not a favorite of mine, because it's unbalanced and also toxic in general. I also find it odd that Mack deals with the uncivilized dudes who live above Flora and their harassment of her with a small spot of violence, bu Flora seems to have no real issues with that.

Third pause: I didn't get the romance between these two. Mack references this as what got her through prison. Really? A meeting,if you can even call it that, that lasted less than ten seconds and in which the two of you shared nothing at all? I'd buy it if Mack were some kind of philosopher-warrior type, and it was the ideal of the (perhaps) true love carrying her through, but no, it's Flora, herself, and I didn't buy that at all.

But on we go with the story, and somewhere before chapter ten, we get the first instance of the phrase guardian angel - a phrase I came to hate because it was repeated so very many times, and spoke to that codependence. I stopped here and searched it on my Fire: 13 times! Too many, editor! But as with the last one I read, way to go, editor, with no constant drumbeat of heads snapping up!

Mack promises to always protect Flora, but actually does not: due to another crime family wanting to expand and sell drugs in Sharkey territory, the head of that family tells some lowlife that Mack tuned up before (not in the book) to go grab Flora and Isy, who has been helping out at the candy shop. He does so, and then is stuck with the two, when the boss tells him to kill them both, something he doesn't want to do, but he knows that his boss will kill him or Mack will when she finds him.

But Flora saves herself and Isy by distracting the thug and then whacking him in the head - nothing preventing her from doing these things with adrenaline flooding her body.

No sexytimes of note, explicit or otherwise that made a blip on the page. If you're looking for that, it isn't here. If you're looking for more of a slower evolution without a bunch of sex scenes that sound like human anatomy or gyno classes, though, this could do it.

HEA, etc.

My favorite character: Mack's dachsund, Dexter.

Two stars of five. Not my thing.

Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.

Expected publication date: December 14, 2021
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I really loved this book. The relationship between Mack and Flora was just so sweet and loving. This was a friends to lovers slow burn romance with some drama thrown in. I really liked Mack she was such a kind and sensitive person even though she could be quite ruthless if anyone threatened her family and friends. Flora was a favorite of mine also, she had so much going against her because of her mental health problems, but I could see that at every point she always tried to push through to be a better version of herself and not just the person who has mental issues. I loved all the secondary characters as well The relatives were funny and sweet in their support of Mack and Floras relationship, and Macks little sausage dog Dexter was to cute for words, he totally stole the book and made this an even more enjoyable story to read. I would definitely recommend this author to all my friends and family, and I really look forward to what this author writes next.
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The cutest gangster story ever! 

Flora runs an old fashioned sweet shop but she struggles with a variety of mental health issues that affect her day to day life. Mack opens a barbers next door after being released from prison, but as a member of the Sharkey family she is well known and connected because of her family. When Mack realises who Flora is and how she might be able to help her the two form an unlikely friendship which quickly blossoms into something much more. 

I loved this! Every single second of it was precious and something very special. When I started the story, I didn’t know what to expect but everything about this story had me excited to read more. Jenny has taken a variety of mental health issues and handled each one with sensitivity and care whilst importantly highlighting just how exhausting and difficult it can be when trying to manage multiple things that affect your beyond your control on a daily basis. There really is something everyone can relate to in this story, whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or you are just battling with demons or life’s struggles. 

Mack was a big surprise, such a gentle and sweet soul but passionate and strong. You could really feel how much she cared about not just Flora but everyone and she was remorseful of her criminal behaviour and connections while being realistic about them too. She was a great character, perfectly balanced to demonstrate how you can be strong but still have vulnerabilities of your own. There was a pressure that came with being part of her family but she still thought for herself, made decisions based on her morals not what her family expected. How she was with Flora and others just melted my heart. If everyone in the world took time to truly understand and be patient like Mack was, the world would be a better place. 

It was Flora I really connected with though. I understood and empathised with almost everything she thought and felt. This really is a special story in highlighting the fact that mental health conditions are normal and that with love and support your life can be rich and full and you can achieve anything. 

It truly was a sweet surprise of a story that I just couldn’t put down and cannot recommend enough. A very special story that everyone should read.
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Set in Glasgow Flora runs an old school sweet shop and Mack the knife freshly out of prison opens the barbershop next door.  The romance started a year ago when Mack met Flora during a stressful event.
Flora suffers from mental health issues and is socially awkward, Mack is surprisingly understanding and totally into Flora.  Slow burn romance with a happy ending.
The description of the sweet shop takes me back to my childhood and the shop I visited as a kid!  Jenny Frame is very good at describing the shop, you feel that you are there !
It is a slow burn and a little too slooow for me, I was an impatient reader and didn't appreciate each scene described in such detail.  You know Macks gangster past will catch up with them at some point and when it does, it happens so quickly,
Its great that a main character has the health problems that Flora has and the positive way it is dealt with..
I can see a follow up book featuring the 'Queen of Glasgow" Nikki!
I was given an ARC by NetGallery for my honest review.
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This story is a f/f romance that follows a candy shop owner and a (kind of?) gang member. Okay I have to be honest, this book was so cringe I was literally unable to take it seriously. The dialogue was so awkward and the story itself was just too random. 2/5
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I feel very neutral about this book. I liked both characters but as someone who works with clients with additional needs, I also felt like I was reading an information book on how to help my clients feel ok about sex and relationships.
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Beautiful!

I've got to admit, I am a fan of Frame's work, and I love Sweet Surprise.

Mack Sharkey, (Always love them badarse characters that have a hint of softness to them! ) has just been released from jail and wants to start a new life by opening up a barbers shop right next door to Flora Buchanan's sweet shop. Flora has her own obstacles to overcome, such as anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. And thinks a relationship will never happen. We get to watch Mack and Flora become close to one another, watch their friendship grow, and earn trust. 

I also would like to point out, how fantastically, Mental Health issues were included in this storyline. It was written incredibly well and you can certainly see that research has been done. Not many authors include mental health in their plots and write about it well. 

There is a hint of violence in the story, not much and it doesn't go into great detail... but if you 'trigger' to violence please be aware. 

The sweet shop tho... remember when you were a child and walked into a sweet shop and your hit with that smell?? All the different smells just overpowering your senses?  ... childhood memories.  :)

I really did enjoy the story, and would love to see a series. Any chance??? 

Oh...... and Dexter,,, love Dexter!

4.5 stars.
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Sweet Surprise by Jenny Frame, published by @boldstrokesbooks

I am a big fan of Jenny Frame’s books, especially Unexpected, however this is a standalone novel, so you don't need to have read any others of Jenny Frame's books. I really enjoyed this one- lovely chemistry between the main characters and a lovely, sweet setting! Lots of character richness, too. Thanks to #netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have to be honest here, I was very interested in reading this book because I suffer from the same mental illnesses as Flora. Normally these are portrayed in a lot of lesbian romance books as quirky or funny, so it was refreshing to read a character whose illnesses were not played up for laughs. I was also surprised to find that her issues were not magically nor easily resolved by Mack's love for a completely happy ending. She still needs to grow and heal, and it's just so refreshing. Also I love Mack and how gentle and understanding she is. A good, cute read.
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What a refreshing read with a variety of issues. I really enjoyed how the characters were presented. The story follows the story of, Mack Sharkey, recently released from prison after serving time for her cousin, Nikki, head of the Sharkey clan. Mack is looking forward to a simple life running her own barber shop. Flora Buchanan, shy, introvert, suffering from PTSD, owner of a sweetshop. Neither woman is looking for a relationship but is that not when a relationship finds you? Hummm...

Mack's barber shop happens to be next door to Flora's shop. Immediately infatuated with the shy Flora, Mack yearns to get closer to her. What unfolds is a lovely and entertaining story of family, friendship, and love.
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Mack Sharkey loves her family and will do whatever she has to do keeping them safe. Even go to prison.  Her family, for generations, ran on the wrong side of the law. But a few years back they decided to keep their business legal, and now her cousin Nikki has taken the helm, growing their business but they dipped into the illegal side once in a while. It’s while helping Nikki that the family finally gets caught. So Mack being Mack takes the fall for the family and gets a year in prison. 
    But before that day came about she’d also come to a woman's rescue when she was being attacked by a group of men. Who the lady was she doesn’t know because all the lady wanted to do is get to her home where she felt safe.
   Flora Buchanan owned and operated the sweetshop left to her by her grandfather. She lives a quiet life dealing with slew of mental issues. When she was younger she could manage by herself but as she’s gotten older it seems her anxiety, OCD and PTSD has gotten worse. She’s tried therapy but none of it helped her. When she was attacked she was thankful Mack came along. But Flora didn’t stay around. She left immediately, not even stopping to  thank the person who saved her.
    Now Mack is out of prison and instead of returning to the family business she decides to set herself up in her own barber shop. Now here she is where she belongs. But it’s when she meets the  neighboring Sweetshop she’s schooled to find it owned by the woman she’d saved a few yrs back. Now how will they deal with each other? The attraction is there but can either accept the others lifestyles.
    Ms Frame writes a variety of books dealing with romance and the paranormal,  you know things like werewolves (not my cup of tea). But the romance’s are fun fast paced stories that I find hard to put down. Very nice read.
ARC via NetGalley/ Bold Stroke Books
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NetGalley ARC Educator 55p974

Fans of Ms. Frame will love this book. She explores a relationship between a diagnosed OCD individual and an enforcer. Mack and Flo are opposites that attract wildly. Throw in a cute puppy and  an endearing family and it's a recipe for success. There were some unanswered questions so maybe they'll be a a sequel.
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4.5/5

I’ve read several Jenny Frame books by this point and I’ve really enjoyed them. I figured her name attached to the work was really all I needed to know.

I really enjoyed both of these characters. I especially enjoyed them together. Flora has a few assorted mental health issues, and I cannot explain how much I loved how sweet Mack was with her about these. It was just great. Both of these characters are so genuinely sweet and likeable. They do seem a bit too perfect at times, but I’m not too bothered by that in all honesty.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that it didn’t end where Flora’s mental health issues were fixed. That’s always something I’m worried about when it’s in a book. That there will be a magical cure. No. She finds things that help manage her issues a bit better and she even finds the strength to overcome some of her issues when it's serious, but she’s not “fixed” by the end of the book.

One thing I don’t have an issue with that other’s might is the pacing. There’s kind of an instant connection between the two and the relationship does likely move to fast into relationship than it normally would. I don’t mind that in a book, but others prefer their romances without a dose of insta-love.

The plot of this book was…unexpected for me. Again, I didn’t read the summary, but I definitely did not expect it. It’s a good plot and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what came to mind when I saw the cover and read the title SWEET SURPRISE. It was an interesting plot and I thought it was quite well-developed. The conflict could have lasted a bit longer and been a bit more impactful, but I’m also glad that it wasn’t dragged out too much.
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This is a slow burn romance. It was nice to see a main character that was different from the usual.  Without giving too much away. Mack Sharkey  is released from prison and has decided to walk the straight and narrow road. She opens a barber shop.  She  discover that her neighbor Flora is the young lady she thinks about constantly ever since an encounter that took place over a year ago.
  Flora is the owner of a sweet shop and suffers from OCD, PTSD  and Social Anxiety. I admire how patient Mack was when dealing with Flora as their relationship developed.  I enjoyed the book and thought it was an easy read.. I recommend. 4 stars
  
Thank you NetGalley and Bold Strokes Book for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netally for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I'll be honest, out of the three books I requested from Bold Strokes in November I predicted that this would be my least favorite but it ended up being the book I loved the most.

I loved the build up and that Mack tried so hard to understand Flora's things. I love that they all tried to understand both Flora and Isla. There was very little romance in this but I actually preferred it that way. It was nice to just get know the characters and see them evolve as a person, friends and couple before anyhting really happened. And the side characters were nicely written too. 

I actually finished this in 5 hours.
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