Sweet and Sour

astridamara_sweetandsourTitle: Sweet and Sour
Author: Astrid Amara
Cover artist: Ginny Glass
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: gay romance
Length: novella
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

A guest review by Sirius.

Summary: I loved the sweet in this story, but it was not enough for me to counterbalance the sour.


Miles Piekus thought he and Itai would make a great team, despite the infidelities haunting their past. After all, Itai is smoking hot, they’re both driven entrepreneurs, and they love each other. What else did a person need?

Well, a lot more, apparently, because not only are they no longer passionate, they don’t even share the same passions. Like people, affections change, and Miles wonders if a relationship this broken is truly worth repairing.

Itai’s business launch with his ex-boyfriend isn’t helping. And Miles himself has a new business to grow over a busy few weeks where Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collide to form either the best holiday season ever, or a kosher caterer’s worst nightmare.

But help comes in the unexpected, ruggedly handsome form of Detective Dominic Delbene, a pickle aficionado with his own ghosts, who stakes out the deli to capture a dangerous drug dealer. As Hanukkah’s eight days come to an end, Miles discovers that Nic is not only good with pickling; he’s good at everything


I know I may have said it before but I buy (or request for review, or do both sometimes) Astrid Amara’s books when I see her name on the cover, really I do not care what she decides to write about. No matter what it is, I will buy it.  Having said that, I cannot tell you how much I loved her Hanukkah themed stories in the past.  I could not wait to start another Hanukkah themed story written by one of my favorite authors.  As you can see from the grade, while I still liked it, I did not fell in love with it.

Please do not get me wrong, the writing is just as good as ever, the characters are just as good as ever – they came alive on the pages of the story, despite its relatively short length. What went wrong for me? I think first and foremost I formed wrong expectations of this one. If I review the story, I am almost terrified to have any specific expectations of it, because I worry that I will end up reviewing the book I want to be written, rather than the one which author actually wrote and I always want to avoid that. I will not apologize for expecting a good story, but anything more specific I try to avoid. Unless I am reviewing the series of course, then I think it is okay to have your expectations narrowed down by the previous books somewhat.

But I thought this story was advertised as a holiday fluff and Hanukkah romance. Unfortunately I cannot qualify this story either as a holiday fluff OR romance (I guess beginning of romance will be ok) and I will try to explain why. I think what I have read was a holiday themed piece of a gay fiction, which has the very beginning of a new romance for the main character and it ends well, but the story also almost left me in a depressed mood (I was saved by the last quarter of it) and that’s not what I expect from a holiday themed romance.

You can see that I put up a spoiler warnings, because there is no way I can talk about what bothered me without spoilers, this would be the time to stop reading because the spoilers will begin shortly. As you can see from the blurb Miles and Itai are in the relationship which they are trying to repair, but which is slowly disintegrating. This disintegration of the relationship, wondering whether the partner is cheating on you again or not, whether something is left worth saving had a very realistic and believable feel to me. I felt bad for Miles because he was a narrator, and did not feel much for Itai, because I felt he was a pretty selfish individual, but I did not feel that the writer demonized Itai, I thought they just wanted different things from the relationship even though at some point at time they loved each other very much. Anyway, this relationship which was not going anywhere lasted till almost the last quarter of the story. When I say lasted, I mean it was stagnating, but Miles did not have a nerve to break it off. It was obvious to me very early that they were not staying together but as it was going and going and going I started to wonder whether they will eventually make it work, because it did not end and I was so very ready for it to end, I cannot tell you how much.

It is true that Miles’ eventual new love interest (and I do understand the contrast in the title – old versus new relationship) makes an appearance early enough in the book, but nothing  romantic happens between them till 68-69 percent of the story on my kindle. I did not even feel that they had enough of friendly interactions till that point in the book – yes, they had very nice, easy going chemistry, but for me it was not nearly enough to consider it a building romance. It was a spark of something maybe? Do not get me wrong, what they had I loved, but I wanted more balance, more sweet to counter the sour in the title of the story.

I think the longer story would have delivered more equal balance to leave out the bitter taste in my mouth after observing Miles and Itai for too long.The story has a lot of food descriptions, which is understandable considering what Miles does for a living, but if you do not like pickles, beware :).The dialogue has cute, funny moments, but weirdly I did not like Miles and Itai together so much that I could not even laugh much. I just kept thinking – break up with him already and start something with Nick.

Still recommended but with the above reservations.

The book is available November 26 from Loose Id.


  • I plan on buying because I liked the excerpt so much, maybe this just sets the groundwork for more Miles/Dominic stories?

    • Hi rdafan7, if this is the beginning of the series, I will definitely buy the next one (maybe I will check out the spoilers to make sure Itai won’t be back first ;)), but seriously you definitely should buy it if you liked the extract I think, because writing was just as awesome as in her other books.

  • Sirius

    I agree with you completely on your review of this book. I kept hoping that Miles would grow a pair, but as you said, it didn’t happen until the book was three quarters over. Like you, I have always loved Astrid’s Hanukkah romances and look forward to them every year, but Miles and Itai reminded me of an old married couple who should have divorced a long time ago but kept living together for convenience only, having boring sex. They had nothing in common. There was no spark between them even though Miles tried to pretend.

    Dominic entered the picture as Miles’ love interest too late to save the book for me because Miles’ and Itai’s relationship had soured me on the story. However, I sure learned a lot about pickles. 😀

    • You know, I read this story three times. I kept wondering whether I missed the fluffy and romance part, just whether I missed something important. But no, Itai was still there and there and there. So yeah looks like we agree that unfortunately the story was not as awesome as her others were.

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