Apr 19 2016 8:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Never Sweeter (April 19, 2016)

Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein

Charlotte Stein
Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #2)
Loveswept / April 19, 2016 / $3.99 digital

Second chances are sweeter than ever in Charlotte Stein’s steamy Dark Obsession series—perfect for fans of Katy Evans—as a self-reliant college girl falls for a reformed bully who’s desperate to make up for lost time.

Letty Carmichael can’t believe her eyes when she catches a glimpse of her high school tormenter, wrestling champ Tate Sullivan, on campus. College was supposed to be her escape from Tate’s constant ridicule. Now he’s in her classes again, just waiting for his chance to make her life hell. But when Letty and Tate are partnered up for an assignment—on sex in cinema, of all things—she starts to see a kinder, gentler side of him. And when she realizes Tate knows more about sex than she could ever guess at, he soon starts making her blush in a whole new way.

Tate Sullivan is haunted by regret over his cruelty toward Letty. So when she agrees to work with him, he seizes his chance to make amends. He can’t blame her for not believing he’s for real, but soon Tate starts to break down her wall. She wants to know about passion, desire, lust—topics he is well versed in. And in return she offers the one thing he always wanted: the chance to be more than just a jock.

Letty is shocked by how sensitive Tate can be. Still, desiring him feels ludicrous. Loving him is impossible. Craving him is beyond all reason. So why can’t she stop?

At the end of Never Sweeter is a dedication “For all of you everywhere who know what it’s like.” The dedication refers to a key theme of Never Sweeter, that of bullying, and I confess that the theme was one of the reasons I liked this book so much (because I do know what it’s like) and throughout the story we learn the various ways that bullying has affected the heroine, with the author displaying considerable insight into that experience.

…that’s what bullies do to people. They don’t just hurt you or make you feel bad for five minutes in high school. They create the backbone of every friendship you try to have from then on. They change your life forever.

Charlotte Stein brings her A-game to this novel, with vivid, original descriptions such as in the opening scene of the book where the heroine realizes (with horror) that her former high school bully is taking the same college class as her:

But then there was his face, fresh from a million of her nightmares. Nobody else looked the way he did, so ugly and handsome at the same time. His jaw was too big ad brutal for that butter-soft mouth; those sultry, soft-focus blue eyes did not belong above his busted nose.

And the ears…

She used to dream up insults about his ridiculous jug ears. In fact, that was the first thing she thought of when she snuck another glance from her seat at the back. All the thing she wanted to say to him, in return for every fat ass and thunder thighs. Every bit of her rage distilled into one perfect, beautiful rant, aimed right at his stupid, smug face.

Like a preemptive strike, before he got his digs in.

Stein perfectly captures all the revenge fantasies, impotent rage and paranoia of a bullying victim while also managing to inject considerable humor into the situation through the heroine’s wildly imaginative point of view. A lot of the story’s humor comes from the heroine’s inability to believe in the hero’s attraction to her, as she thinks she has all the “allure of a diseased snail”.

One of the funniest scenes, and one which makes the hero far more likeable, is when the hero and heroine work on a project together about sex in films and Tate objects to the fact that there’s very little ‘growling at the badger’ in film (as opposed to fellatio):

“Why can’t they have him going down on her? They show guys getting blow jobs in PG-13 movies all the time. Hell, they do it in pretty family friendly comedies.”

“They do not. Name one movie where that happens.”

Police Academy. Ghostbusters. Ace Ventura.”

She went to protest again, then stopped.

Mostly because her brain was already supplying the scenes he was talking about.

“Oh my god. Oh my god, you’re right.”

“I am as amazed as you are.”

“Are you writing this down?”

“Hell yeah I will, now that you think I have a point. What should I put, like—more women need to get head in movies? Better class it up, huh.” He took out his own notebook and started carefully noting down the idea, reading it aloud as he did. “There…is…a sexual double standard.”

Another great aspect to this book is the heroine’s friend, Lydia. For some reason (prior reading experience?) I kept waiting for Lydia to stop being understanding of the heroine’s fears and insecurities, or to withdraw her support of the heroine’s relationship with the hero. But Lydia remains a rock-steady friend throughout the book and, along with providing plenty of dry wit, supports the heroine as a true friend should.

Now, no surprises here, but sex scenes in this story will set your Underoos on fire. Keep a fire blanket and extinguisher handy while reading, and remember to Stop, Drop and Roll if necessary. The sex is also brimming with humor, and I loved the bit where the hero reveals that he has a can of Pringles down his pants. (See if you can work that one out for yourself.)

So, do give this book a try. You won’t regret it, I swear on the undead soul of a barn disemboweler.


Learn more about or order a copy of Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein, out now: 

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Rhyll Biest is an Australian author writing erotic romance hot enough to melt your e-reader. She's also one of the tarts on the Bookish Tarts podcast where she and fellow author Georgina Penney discuss romance novels in a high-brow yet potty-mouthed way.


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1. Kareni
This does sound good, so thank you for the review, Rhyll. And I'll admit this is the first time I've heard, "I swear on the undead soul of a barn disemboweler." It's good to know that you feel strongly about this book!
I have to give Charlotte all the credit for that quote, Kareni! :)
3. Kareni
Thanks for the clarification, Rhyll. Now I'll just be left wondering what precipitated that remark!
Jennifer Proffitt
4. JenniferProffitt
I'm reading this now and it's SO GOOD!!!!! Literally changing my reading life right now.
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