3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Macarons at Midnight by M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin

Title: Macarons at Midnight

Author: M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Tristan Green left his small English town for Manhattan and a job at a high profile ad agency, but can’t seem to find his bearings.

He spends a lot of time working late at night, eating and sleeping alone, and even more time meandering around his neighborhood staring into the darkened windows of shops. One night when he’s feeling really low, he wanders by a beautiful little bakery with the lights still on. The baker invites him in, and some time during that night Tristan realizes it’s the first time he’s really smiled in months.

Henry Livingston has always been the odd duck, the black sheep, the baker in an old money family where pedigree is everything and quirky personalities are hidden behind dry martinis and thick upper east side townhouse facades. Henry is drawn to Tristan’s easy country charm, dry English wit, and everything that is so different from Henry’s world.

Their new romance is all buttercream frosting and sugared violets until Tristan’s need to fit in at work makes him do something he desperately wishes he could undo. Tristan has to prove to Henry that he can be trusted again before they can indulge in the sweet stuff they’re both craving.

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Review: Henry Livingston has defied his wealthy parents and opened his own bakery. Struggling to keep up with its growing popularity, Henry spends most of his waking hours preparing delicious treats and creating even more. Often there late at night in order to get a jump on prepping dough for the morning rush, Henry finds himself suddenly entertaining a shy and very British guest who has lost his way on his journey home. There is an almost instant feeling of attraction between the two men, and Henry decides he wants to spend more time getting to know Tristan.

Tristan has come to New York to work for an ad agency that is just a bit more cutthroat than he had anticipated. One fellow employee in particularly, Jordan, seems bent on treating Tristan with contempt, and bullies him as often as possible by calling him names and putting him down. When Tristan stumbles into Henry’s life, he is desperate for friendship and perhaps even more. However, Henry has been burned before by boyfriends who either were after his father’s money or simply couldn’t handle the ultra reserved and cold parents Henry had grown up around. So, trusting Tristan does not come easy, but when Henry finally lets his guard down, it is Tristan who sticks his foot in it completely and causes Henry to doubt not only his trust in Tristan but whether the love the man professed to have for Henry was real at all.

Sweet. No doubt about it this was an incredibly sweet and gentle love story. Peppered with actual recipes for the very treats Henry teaches Tristan to make, the story reads like an ideal romance that truly has very few moments of worry or problem. I didn’t feel this could be labeled an “insta-love” trope because the authors took the time to reveal each man’s inner sense of caution about not moving too fast. Instead, we saw a nice slow build in the romantic moments between Henry and Tristan, and real dialogue that often centered on Henry’s passion for baking. I felt so sorry for Tristan as he dealt with what amounted to a bully in his coworker Jordan. However, it was here that the novel began to unravel for me and slowly began to feel forced and unfinished.

Tristan was growing more and more despondent over a job he was beginning to hate, and a coworker who took every chance to demean him and poke fun at him. In fact, Jordan, the bully, would be the cause for a rift between our two main characters that almost seemed insurmountable in the last pages of the novel. Unfortunately, the impact Jordan had on Tristan and Henry was never resolved. In fact, Jordan seemed to get off scot-free and was never held accountable for the mess he created in the couple’s life. On the job, it initially appeared that Jordan was going to be shut down and held responsible for his behavior. But then things turned strange. For instance, there was the odd way in which he was initially found out by one of Tristan’s supervisors and removed from the team, only then to later to be absolved of his outright bullying and put back on the team. It just didn’t make sense. Either Tristan’s team leader didn’t tolerate bullying, as she initially stated, or she encouraged it by ignoring it in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Meanwhile, poor Henry was dealing with his own problems which included his cold and standoffish parents and their potential to chase Tristan away, his need for not only an assistant for his storefront but also an assistant baker for himself, and his growing love for Tristan, whom he wanted to trust with all his heart but who kept triggering caution and worry in Henry’s heart. When Tristan managed to survive the meet and greet with the parents, and Henry added an employee to the storefront part of the business, things seemed to settle down and even begin to look permanent. Then a major wrong move by Tristan, along with deliberate interference by Jordan, derailed the novel completely, throwing any future happiness into question and nearly destroying both Henry and Tristan, emotionally. All that was then hastily resolved in the last few chapters of the novel, too much, too quick, a major rift resolved in moments and a potential HEA shoved at us with an abrupt ending that made my head spin.

Macarons At Midnight was a sweet and tender romance that fell apart at the last minute. Rather than take the time to fully resolve some major plot points, there was too much haste to get to the happy ever after, making it less than believable. These two authors are amazing writers but this collaboration fell just a bit short of its goal.




You can buy Macarons at Midnight here:

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