Sarah Naylor has spent the previous two years of her life taking care of her aunt Joan till her death of ovarian cancer. A professional chef looking for a new start and return to the carefree life she had before, Sarah left San Francisco to help launch a new food-truck enterprise in NYC.
Tim Cannon lives a fast paced life. Rushing from call to call, bolting down food in his downtime and meeting fast women for uncomplicated sex is all he has time for as a EMT. After a hard day training a probie EMT, Tim heads toward the park to find a hot-dog vendor and inhales two dogs and pretzel before Sarah strolls up to him and offers him a free rice bowl from her food truck. Part-promotional strategy and all flirtation, Sarah encourages him to slow down and try her food. He likes the food but lusts after Sarah. A few afternoons and a couple of bad pick-up lines later Sarah goes off with Tim to his small lower East Side apartment complete with Murphy bed for sex hotter than either of them expected.
“Continuing his deceleration into the slow lane would mean feeling what he wasn’t ready to feel, not for Sarah, not for anyone.”
Each time Sarah and Tim got together there is a challenge heightening the tension and before long they are both much more involved with each other than is prudent if all they want is an uncomplicated spring fling. Between shared meals and intense sexual encounters Sarah and Tim become increasingly intimate, surprising each other by asking the deeper questions and honestly answering them. But just when they both seemed poised to accept the fact that they want more from each other something Tim said or more accurately failed to say to a co-worker has them parting in the drama-free way they always expected. But instead of relief at the end of a temporary arrangement they are both miserable. There is fantastic groveling and believable character interactions that lead to a satisfying reconciliation.
“But unlike him, she was letting the experience slowly simmer inside her, letting it change her for the better.”
As someone who loves food and exploring cities, I wished I could have tasted and seen everything they did. I loved how Tim sets out to show Sarah why he loves NYC, not in a touristy way but in the way of someone who knows it intimate rhythms and is happy to take on the challenge of impressing someone hard to impress. I also particularly liked Tim’s point of view, how we see it slow-down as he slowly starts surrendering to feeling and tasting again. I also loved the way Sarah’s progression from someone trying recapture a particular way of living out of obligation and eventually accepting her changed self gently unfolded.
This is the first Anne Calhoun novel I have ever read but it won’t be my last. Afternoon Delight should be listed under the definition of Erotic Romance as almost all the major relationship breakthroughs happen during sex or shortly thereafter and it does it just right.
I am thankful to have received a review copy of Afternoon Delight from Penguin/Intermix via Netgalley.