Series: King Family #2
Release Date: January 18th, 2022
CW/TW: toxic family situations, mentions of cancer and death
I knew Lucy Dillard was The One the first time I met her. Yes, I’m enough of a sap to believe in love at first sight. When I fell for Lucy, I fell hard. Everything was great between us—until the moment she dumped me.
Now I just want to forget about her. Instead, I’m stuck staring at her face all day. But I need this job, so I’ll find a way to be civil and professional.
There’s just one small problem: I’m nowhere close to being over her.
First, we were lovers. Then enemies. Now we’re trying to be friends.
I didn’t set out to break Tanner King’s heart, but you know what they say about the road to hell.
I’ve got too many responsibilities and no room in my life for love. I can deal with Tanner’s resentment until he starts working at the desk directly across from mine. Obviously, a truce of some kind is required. We’re both grownups. We can handle this situation like professionals.
There’s only one thing threatening this fragile peace we’ve negotiated: all these inconvenient feelings I apparently still have for him.
I don’t know how Susannah Nix did it again. She made me fall head over heels for another King family member and got me really curious about who is coming next. In short, my obsession and love for her storytelling just went up a million notches. And if you’ve ever read any of her books, I think you’d feel the same way.
Cream and Punishment follows Tanner King, brother to Wyatt from My Cone and Only. If you’ve read book one, then you know that all the King siblings share a father—he’s awful, don’t even get me started on him—but a lot of them have different mothers. Tanner and Wyatt have the same mother and a stepbrother, Ryan, and if you loved Wyatt in book one of the series, then you’re going to absolutely love Tanner and Ryan. I mean…the glimpses we got of Tanner in book one told me that I would love him, but I don’t think I expected my heart to explode for him the whole time.
While he might be a King, Tanner’s been given the short end of the stick in the family business. When his sales reports showed a decline, his father decided to teach him a lesson and sent him to work at the family owned theme park. Oh, the King Family owns the most popular ice cream company and they also have a theme park. For Tanner, it’s the most humiliating job, but all he’s ever wanted is to prove to his father that he’s worth it and he’s good at his job. But the King family patriarch will never see things that way. However, his sister steps in and helps him get a job within her department so that he’s out of the Texas heat and the stinky mascot costume. Except, by working in that department, he has to work with and sit across from the only woman he’s ever loved. For Lucy Dillard, relationships are not a high priority. Between working a full time job and looking after her mother and brother, Lucy doesn’t have time for romance. She has fun with one night stands and hook-ups, but she’s never wanted anything more. Which is why when Tanner drops the ‘I love you’ bomb during their short relationship, Lucy hightails and it and hopes to never see him again. Till he’s her new trainee and being around him is making her question everything.
“Kissing Lucy was like falling into paradise. Our mouths together tasted like poetry.”
Gah these two! I’m a sucker for romances where the hero falls first and then spends the whole book pining for the heroine. And that’s exactly what happens with Tanner and Lucy. Six months ago, their relationship was great—the sex, the chemistry, the connection—and once he opened his mouth and expressed his feelings, he ruined any chance of that becoming something more. And when forced to work together…well, things are obviously bound to get interesting. I liked that while Tanner was definitely pining, being around him also had Lucy wanting all the things. The sexual tension and the chemistry is amazing! But also, I love that they both behaved like proper adults and chose to put their past and feelings aside to become friends who work together. I mean, talk about forced proximity, these two set the pages on fire with each scene where they’re alone together. But they’re also so cute! I love their banter and how much they both nerd out, it’s such a fantastic friendship to relationship situation.
And, let’s not forget that the King Family series is steamy as all get out! Their history and sexual tension, their chemistry and connection really lends itself to making sure that their steamy scenes are out of this world. I loved the teasing and flirting, and Tanner’s dirty talk is just *chefs kiss*. I absolutely love Susannah Nix’s brand of steam, because it’s a perfect balance.
While cute and steamy, Cream and Punishment deals with some heavy topics including parental manipulation and toxic family situations. Both Lucy and Tanner have been weighed down by their familial expectations and there are scenes where your heart will go out to them in such a big way. And mixed in with all this tense family drama, you have the two main characters leaning on each other and supporting the other through everything. Seriously, Tanner King is one a kind and if someone can find me a human like him, I’d be happy as a clam.
Thanks to Susannah Nix for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.