Release Date: Jul 30, 2020
Series: There’s Something About Marysburg
Heat Level: Sensual
Sweetest in the Gale is a collection of stories, one new and two previously released, by Olivia Dade.
Sweetest in the Gale
Sweetest in the Gale is a brand new story from Dade about Griff and Candy, two English teachers that have been polite colleagues for years. At the start of the latest school year Griff sees Candy prepping her room and it’s obvious something terrible has happened to dampen her usually feisty personality. As the two work together on a new school project they begin to confide in each other about their grief. It was heart wrenching to hear both of their stories of loss, but so incredible to see people work through pain. Griff and Candy are attracted to each other, but each have guilt about moving on after the loss of loved ones. My only complaint was that I felt that the guilt both Griff and Candy were feeling was almost oppressive to the rest of the story. I would have liked a little more time to enjoy them together as a couple to offset how much of the story was centered on death and sadness. Overall, I still loved this story because Olivia is such an excellent author and it was a very relatable story.
Unraveled, is the story of Simon and Poppy two opposites that have to work together and it’s probably the lightest of the three stories. Simon is a clinical and systematic math teacher that has been tasked with mentoring Poppy, a sweet and chaotic art teacher. The story is set against the same backdrop of Marysburg High several previous characters make appearances including the funny goth softball players and a meddling but well meaning principal. This really made the story feel grounded and it was easy to become deeply involved in Poppy and Simon’s story. Simon is the sole POV of the novella, which was an interesting change from the dual POV’s Dade usually writes. It really was fun to be inside the starched Simon’s head as he slowly is driven to lust and madness by Poppy. I think it made his passionate response much more believable. Using one POV was a choice that possibly reduces the audience’s ability to connect with Poppy, however it worked for me because she is so well drawn from Simon’s perspective. The story was a fun sexy story with a little bit of mystery that kept me really invested and is definitely worth a read.
The last story is about Elizabeth and James, friends for years, James offers to marry Elizabeth when she gets a scary diagnosis and needs insurance coverage. This story was very difficult to read for me, since I’ve lost several women in my life to breast cancer and I couldn’t help but think of their struggles while reading about Elizabeth. Dade of course handles this difficult topic with grace and compassion, but it made it very hard for me to enjoy the romance piece of the story. I also think their story is a hard one to tell in novella form since it seemed like the romance and the cancer diagnosis were not given enough time to really flourish. But, like any book by this author I of course fell in love with the couple and was rooting for them to admit their feelings from the start. I would warn anyone that this story definitely felt like the most depressing and emotional of all three and there are some scenes of medical procedures on page.
Overall, I enjoyed this collection of stories because Dade is such an eloquent writer. She manages to both convey the emotions of the scene and the personalities of the characters in beautiful detail. Some fans of Dade’s previous work may notice this is tougher subject matter than her other books, but I think this just shows off her range of talents.
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.