Praline For My Rival by JJ Keller

Praline For My Rival by JJ Keller
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jenn left the intelligence game behind to sell a delicious dessert using her family’s magical age-old recipe. As the sole ice cream vendor in the food truck arena, success is hers until the hot, new ice cream guy arrives threatening to melt her competitive nature as he heats emotions she thought were dead.

Former Navy SEAL, James “Camp” McLeod returns home wanting to bring joy to people. The perfect solution–making ice cream cones. Who doesn’t like ice cream? But what he really wants is to forget his past. Not an easy task…maybe impossible with the mysterious Jenn Beagle and her tantalizing waffle cone distracting him.
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His past and her secrets may prevent the rivals from forging an alliance, but the magic spark is undeniable whenever they mix business with pleasure.

Jenn loved her ice cream food truck and enjoyed summer time the best. Camp had an ice cream truck of his own and was desperate to know how Jenn managed to make her truck so successful financially. Barely breaking even, Camp yearns to make his business a success but just doesn’t see how to could do it. Getting closer to Jenn is the logical solution, but she puts all thoughts of business and finance out of his head when she smiles at him.

I enjoyed this sweet and happy short story. I particularly was pleased that while Jenn and Camp are both fairly happy and simple people externally, they both had baggage and a past and were more complicated as they deepened their relationship. This helped them feel more realistic and relatable to me. While I adore uncomplicated and happy characters, something just clicked when they each showed a more vulnerable side and part hurts. I also really enjoyed the fact that while they each had an ice cream food truck and were in a similar area with similar clients they didn’t let this “rivalry” get in the way of friendship and exploring a deeper and more romantic connection between them. They didn’t perceive each other as annoying competitors or stealing anything, but were happy to let their friendship – and more – blossom and grow and work together. I really loved this happiness and positivity and it made the story really fresh and enjoyable to me.

There was a quick blitz of plot toward the end which I felt injected an interesting hint of surprise into the story, but I couldn’t help but feel it came a little out of left field and felt somewhat rushed to me. This didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story and while a little puzzling certainly made the adventure of Jenn and Camp coming together and beginning their relationship have a bit more zing than the usual sweet and sugary romance.

Sweet and positive – this was a wonderful “feel good” story and one I really enjoyed. Readers looking for a summery, happy and enjoyable short read should find this totally ticks all the right boxes.

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