Monday 13 November 2023

CBR15 Book 68: "Shucked" by Kate Canterbary

Page count: 462 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Sunny DuJardin is just about to open a vegan cafe in her hometown of Friendship, Rhode Island, but keeps butting heads with the man who tormented her in much of her adolescence and early teenage years. Beckett Loew has had to take a leave of absence from his high-powered business job in Singapore to return to Friendship to try to figure out the total mess his flakey parents have made with the family's oyster restaurant. His father and many of the senior management of the restaurant are in jail for fraud and money laundering, his mother is on the run somewhere in South America, his teenage brother needs a legal guardian, and his pro-baseball player brother isn't returning his calls. Because of his runaway mother, he has an FBI agent following him around constantly, and the discovery that his best friend's little sister Sunny is all grown up and extremely hot is a very unwelcome distraction. 

While Sunny wants to nurse her giant iceberg of animosity towards Beckett, her business partners, his employees, and most others in Friendship have no problems with Beckett. It doesn't hurt that every time something goes wrong, Beckett has bucketloads of money to throw at any problem, making it go away almost instantly. Because of his clueless and deeply irresponsible parents, Beckett has had to be the responsible one in the family since he was a teenager. He doesn't really function unless he is shouldering every burden and taking care of everyone around him. Once Beck and his brother grew up and got as far away from Friendship as they could, his younger brother still had to deal with their super ditzy parents, and he doesn't really appreciate Beckett coming back and suddenly wanting to take a parental role in his life.

Sunny, on the other hand, because of her severe epilepsy, has had to fight to prove to her family that she can manage fine on her own, and stand on her own two feet. She hates people being overprotective, and Beckett's refusal to acknowledge that she is now a responsible adult and small business owner who can take care of herself infuriates her. When they were teens, Beckett and Sunny's brother made her life a living hell, and now he's back in town and rich and successful and gorgeous and while she wants to hat him, she also wants to climb him like a tree and do very bad things with him. Except he's not going to get involved with his best friend's little sister. That way true madness lies.

This book is told in alternating chapters from Sunny and Beckett's POVs. The enemies-to-lovers aspect isn't quite as strong as in the excellent The Worst Guy, the first Canterbary novel I read. There's some great feuding early on, however, and so much great banter, not just between our two protagonists, but also from pretty much the entire supporting cast. While the main romance here is between a heteronormative straight couple, there's a very diverse cast of supporting characters. Beckett's little brother is bi, one of Sunny's business partners has two husbands, and another of her business partners keeps hooking up with one of Beckett's female employees, while Sunny's fourth business partner is asexual. 

This book is a lot of fun and the book is a good start to a new series. The only thing I thought was entirely unnecessary, was the subplot that ends up with Sunny in peril more than once. It felt tacked on, and I didn't think it added anything to the story. The epilogue also felt quite long but makes it clear that the next book is likely to be a second chance romance between the middle Loew brother and his estranged wife. For anyone who wants more sweetness between Sunny and Beckett, Canterbary has an extended epilogue on her website, where you can follow the couple through a whole year of festivals (the town of Friendship has a LOT of festivals). 

Judging a book by its cover: I like the red background, I like the playful positioning of what I'm assuming is supposed to be Sunny. I like that the little dude who's clearly supposed to be Beckett is shucking an oyster, but I refuse to believe he actually did that while wearing an expensive suit. Not a big fan of the faint oysters in the background, though. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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