Desert Isle Keeper
Anna Martin’s first entry into the States of Love series gets off to a creamy start with the ultra-cute novella Rainbow Sprinkles.
Low-key but slightly salty ice cream man Cooper Reid is happy with his simple lot in life, even if his counter job at Dreamy Creamery doesn’t require a lot of executive brain power. And neither does his night job tending the taps at Jim’s Bar, a generic neighborhood hangout with a wing night and a lively clientele. The twice-weekly highlight of Cooper’s life involves serving offbeat sundaes made of two clashing flavors to a hunky guy who loves his rainbow sprinkles. Cooper hasn’t made a move yet – though he’s pretty sure that the guys’ rainbow sprinkles are some kind of code – and as dreamy as LA theme park employee Andrew (Drew) Tanner is, they haven’t exchanged more than ten words in the scant few months since Drew started coming to the Creamery. Drew’s a terrible flirt and Cooper’s terrible at reading subtle signals, so it takes a bold move from Cooper to get the relationship going. Even with Cooper’s number in Drew’s pocket and their first date approaching, both men keep bumbling their way toward romance.
At heart, Cooper is a realist – slightly cynical about his life and his way of looking at it – but Drew is sweet and earnest and ambitious, fantasizing about escaping life at Disney before he ages out for a solid acting role. When Drew starts to push Cooper to step out of his comfort zone and take his unique ice cream ideas to the street, Cooper thinks Drew is ashamed of his humble roots, leading them to an impasse. Is their love as delicious as it seems to be or are they as different as bubble gum and root beer ice cream?
Some romances are spicy, some romances are stormy, but Rainbow Sprinkles is just as sweet as its moniker suggests it should be – and it’s just icing on the ice cream cake that it’s got characters you’ll care about as well. Cooper and Drew feel like real people you’d meet in your own daily life, the friends you’re rooting for, the ones you want to make a life out of their near misses and happy accidents. Their courtship is appealing and fun to chart, sexy and touched with humor that keeps the romance afloat.
The background details of their careers feel just right; it’s clear Martin knows something about the art of making ice cream and either knows someone who’s worked for Disney or been in the parks herself. There’s a knowing sense of humor about Cooper and Drew’s experiences that suggest that to be the case that just adds to the fun.
Along for the ride are some good supporting characters; Cooper’s co-worker, the grumpy Alaina and Dan, who yearns for a better position at the theme park, and is Drew’s best friend and his one-time crush. They aid and abet everything beautifully.
The novella’s biggest flaw is that it speeds along too quickly; Drew and Cooper fall hard for each other, and quickly, within the space of twenty-six pages. But that’s nobody’s fault, just something that often happens with a shorter-page count. Or perhaps that’s just an expression of my frustrated desire in wanting a longer book!
No matter. Rainbow Sprinkles is a cute little micro-sized keeper of a story that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling.