Review: The Sweet Spot by Ariel Ellman

January 15, 2014 Blog Tours, Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: The Sweet Spot by Ariel EllmanThe Sweet Spot by Ariel Ellman
Series: Boston Harbor Romances #1
on 8/4/13
Genres: Romance
Pages: 260
Format: eARC
Ani Winthrop has spent the

last ten years trying to forget what it meant to be Ani Mackenzie, the girl who

had to say good-bye to her childhood love Sebastian O’Reilly when she was just

sixteen. She married a wonderful man, had a beautiful daughter with him, and

opened up her own bakery, The Sweet Spot. But when Sebastian walks into her

bakery after fifteen years apart, she cannot ignore that he is the only one who

could ever truly find her sweet spot.


Sebastian has returned to Boston now, no longer a boy, a man with a feral

intensity and a hard muscled body tattooed with the story of his years away

from Ani. He has returned to claim the love of his life, only to find that Ani

is a wife and mother to another man’s child.

Now Ani has to choose

between the love that she has for her husband Jordan, a handsome and successful

pediatric neurosurgeon, and the love for Sebastian that she has never been able

to let go of.

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Kristina’s Review:

What do you do when your heartbreaking past slams right into your happy present? 
Ani Winthrop is faced with this very question the moment she lays eyes on Sebastian O'Reilly after fifteen years of radio silence. Sebastian was Ani's world in every definition, but a tragedy took him away from her, and she had to move on. Happily married, and a beautiful daughter to show for, what is she to do when the Love of her life comes waltzing back in her life, for her? 
I was really nervous to read this book. Cheating is hard subject for me to read about, and I typically stray from books that involve it. Nerves aside I began this journey, judgement free. I am so happy I ventured into the world of Ani, and Sebastian. This book was not at all what I thought it would be about. The characters made the choices they felt were best for them, and dealt with the consequences, no matter how much pain it caused them. It's never fun to read about someone's heartache, but this story was so true to each character. I felt connected on so many levels to this story. Being Irish myself, I adored the Gaelic, and Irish traditions. I loved how the author resolved each conflict with such a fluid precision. They did not cheapen the plot in any capacity. The characters stayed true to who they were, and never once did I want to punch the main characters in the face for being immature/whiny! Oh glory be! 

This isn't a story based on fleeting emotions, or rash decisions. This is a second chance romance, that doesn't let the main characters off the hook emotionally. This is a story that confronts all parties effected when an affair occurs. I was blown away from chapter one, and you will be as well. 

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He was the same and yet he was different. He was taller, his youthful teenage body replaced with the broad shoulders of a grown man, and his arms were hard with tightly defined ink-covered muscles. The mop of unruly blond curls that Ani used to love running her fingers through as a girl was gone, replaced with a buzz-cut that accentuated the angles of his face, the sharpness of his jaw and the brilliance of his startling emerald green eyes. Two teardrop tattoos rested under his right eye, and a single white rose climbed up his neck. But it was the tattoo on his throat that mesmerized Ani. She stared, transfixed by the sight of the Irish Claddagh symbol inked onto Sebastian’s throat in the tangle of rose thorns that climbed up his neck. The Irish version of her name, Áine, stared back at her from the center of the Claddagh heart where it was written in dark ink.

“The Sweet Spot huh?” He stepped closer until the space between them disappeared and suddenly Ani was sixteen again, lost in the memories of their bodies tangled together on his sweaty sheets. “I think I’ve found the sweet spot baby…” he used to tease as Ani writhed and moaned beneath his probing fingers. She was drunk on lust in those days, intoxicated by love. She was in heaven and thought it would last forever. She had no idea it would all be taken away.

“Oh Bast,” Ani stared back at him in shock. She reached out a hand hesitantly to touch his face, to see if he was really there.

“Easy,” Sebastian murmured back as Ani’s eyes filled with tears and she swayed unsteadily on her feet. “Easy there.” He reached for her hands and pulled her into his arms and against his chest.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Ani whispered as she buried her face in Sebastian’s chest, inhaling deeply. “It’s been almost sixteen years since you’ve teased me about my sweet spot.” Almost sixteen years had passed since the day the police had pulled Sebastian’s arms off of Ani.


Author Bio

I got my first taste of romance novels tucked away in the back of Papyrus, a little bookstore near Columbia University in Manhattan, when I was eleven years old. They had a children’s section, but it was downstairs in the basement, accessed by a separate street entrance, and they always closed it before we got there.


My father liked to take me and my brothers to bookstores late at night, after spending at least an hour lingering over black coffee and poppy seed cookies at The Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam Avenue and we never made it over to Papyrus before ten p.m.


Out of boredom, trapped in the dusty aisles of Papyrus late at night, I started browsing through all the old used books. I wasn’t too interested in the textbook sections that catered to the Columbia students, but I did fall in love with the paperback romance novels. The first one that I read was an epic 500-page historical love story set during the War of 1812. I was drawn in instantly, and I fell in love with romance novels after that. My oldest and dearest friend Barbara’s older sister, Audrey, lent me my second romance novel, a tattered paperback that reminded me of a steamier version of the movie Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. After that, I could always be found in the romance section of B. Dalton Books, devouring steamy historical romance novels by Catherine Coulter and Dorothy Garlock.


I then proceeded to write my own romance series, which I thought was fabulous, but since I was only twelve and had an almost non-existent love life to base it on, it probably wasn’t actually that exciting.


Over the years, I detoured away from the standard romance novels as I delved into classic literature as an English major in college at Drew University, and I fell in love with the classics: Jane Austin, George Elliot, The Bronte Sisters, Hardy, and Hawthorne. In my personal reading, I delved into Gail Tsukiyama, Dorothy Allison, Kathryn Harrison, Julia Alvarez, Anita Shreve and many others. I devoured memoirs by Alexandra Fuller, Adeline Yen Mah and Helen Fremont. I went through a Patricia Cornwell phase and even considered becoming a mortician, earning the nickname Morticia from my husband’s high school buddy Jeremy. But through it all, the constant theme that attracted me to everything that I read was romance, and in the end, I found myself circling back and falling in love with the good old romance novel again.


Upon my return to my old love, the romance novel, I fell in love with Julie Garwood and read every historical romance that she wrote at least five times. Then I discovered Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books and tore through them, sulking and grumbling as I waited for each new book in the series to come out.


During this process of abandoning the romance novel and finally returning to it, I graduated college, married a wonderful man and spent the next twelve years having five children, which kept me a little busy and distracted me from the one thing that I love more than reading romance novels, writing them.


So armed with a little more history in the love department than I had at twelve, I decided to dive back in and write The Sweet Spot. I had no idea initially that it was going to be the first book in my Boston Harbor Romance series, but as I was writing it, I realized that I didn’t want the story to end, and that so many of the characters in the book had stories that needed to be told.


Whenever I finish reading a great romance, it is always bittersweet because I miss the characters that I have fallen in love with. The wonderful thing about a series is that you never have to say good-bye.

Author Social Media Links:

Interview with Ariel:


What is your writing inspiration?:

Everything around me inspires my work. Sometimes something

simple will spark an idea, like the feel of a raindrop on my cheek, and

sometimes my inspiration will come from something deeper, a feeling that a

friend or loved one evokes in me.

What would you die without?:

My AMAZING support network of friends and family

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?:

Definitely reading romance books! And drinking my coffee with

heavy cream ;).

Did any of your early ideas or characters make it into your

current work?:

Yes and no. All of the characters in The Sweet Spot were

original to the book, but the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s story came from a

fictionalized memoir that I was working on before it. Everyone that read my

memoir kept fixating on the story of my first love from my teenage years, and

the unresolved way that we left each other. The interest that everyone showed

in that aspect of my original story sparked the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s

love story in The Sweet Spot.

Do any of your friends or family inspire the characters in the book?:

Yes! My relationship with my little sister definitely inspired

the relationship between Ani and Sawyer in The Sweet Spot and the entire

series. My sister and I cannot be around each other without doubling over in

hysterics every five minutes. We laugh non -stop when we’re together, we both

have foul mouths and a playful sense of humor, and we know each other inside

and out. We mother each other to death, and we know that we can always count on

each other no matter what. There is nothing like a sister to get you through

all your good times and bad, and Ani and Sawyer’s relationship reflects that

throughout the entire series.

Do you have any new projects in the work for another book?:

Yes! I am currently writing Book IV in my Boston Harbor Romance

Series, which is about Bella, Bobby’s little sister, who you meet briefly in

Book II. I’m really in love with this story, partly because I feel like I have

a little more freedom and flexibility with this book than I had with Book II, Mixing

It Up, and Book III, Mississippi Spice, which will be released next month. In

books II and III, the characters had already been established from The Sweet

Spot, and while I loved telling both Sawyer and Jordan’s stories, I didn’t have

as much room to play with them as I do with Bella, because I’d already given my

readers certain expectations of Sawyer’s and Jordan’s personalities. With Bella

and book IV in general, I feel like I have a blank canvas again, the way that I

did with The Sweet Spot when I started the series, and it’s a lot of fun. I

love that I can continue to develop all of the existing characters in the

series, especially Raffi, who is slowly becoming a teenager and approaching her

own story, and yet, I’m also creating something fresh and new at the same time

with Bella’s story.

Do you let your close friends and family read your work while

you are writing it?:

Initially I did, and The Sweet Spot went under the microscope

with my friends quite a bit through all of it’s stages, but as I’ve progressed

through the series, I’ve become a little more hesitant about letting anyone

read anything until the first draft is at least complete. While I definitely

think it’s valuable to get input from “test” readers, I also think it can

sometimes be distracting when you’re still trying to figure out the exact

direction that you are heading with the story yourself.





Rating Report
Overall: 4

One Response to “Review: The Sweet Spot by Ariel Ellman”

  1. Ariel Ellman

    Thank you so much for joining my blog tour this week and for posting your beautiful review! I really appreciate it!! Check out book II in the series, Mixing IT Up, for Sawyer’s story and more of Ani and Sebastian. 🙂 Jordan gets his own story in book III, Mississippi Spice which will be released next month. Thanks again for sharing the love! xoxoxxoxox Ariel

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