Book Review: Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

Posted July 25, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 51 Comments

Sugar and Salt
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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by Susan Wiggs
Publication Date July 26, 2022
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Women
Pages: 368
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

The New York Times bestselling author of The Lost and Found Bookshop returns to Perdita Street with a can't-miss tale of friendship, hardship, redemption, and love between a San Francisco baker and a barbecue master from Texas.

Jerome "Sugar" Barnes learned the art of baking in his grandma's bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street.

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn't exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She's taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome's Sugar bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome's grandmother, the lively, opinionated Ida. The older woman proves to be a good mentor, and Margot is drawn to Jerome. Despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful--even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she's found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot's past in Texas comes back to haunt her...

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs is the fourth book in her popular Bella Vista Chronicles but can be read as a stand-alone.  I saw that pretty pink cover with the beautiful cake, read the blurb, and expected a nice summery romance.  I also read the previous book in the series, The Lost and Found Bookshop and I expected a similar story or at least a similar tone.  And, I did get a nice romance, BUT, I also got a very emotional, tough, intense, and powerful story as well.  

Margot needs a fresh start and has always wanted to open up her own barbeque restaurant. She finds a nice space that shares a kitchen with a bakery.  She loves the location, so she goes ahead and takes the space after meeting Ida, the owner of the bakery.  Then she meets Jerome, Ida’s son, who runs the bakery.  Jerome and Margot instantly connect and develop a friendship.   Jerome is a single dad to two young sons, and he continues to worry about and care for his mother, Ida. 

Margot also has a past that she wants to forget. But when she meets and gets to know Jerome, she knows she has to tell him about her past in order for them to move on.  And she’s always afraid of her past catching up to her. Can Margot escape her past and find happiness with Jerome?

I said earlier that this book is much more than a light romance.  It started out just fine, I liked Margot very much, she’s a tough woman who knows what she wants.  I also enjoyed Jerome and his mother Ida.  Everything was progressing as I expected, with Margot getting her restaurant up and running, and Jerome and Margot starting to get closer, and then BAM! Up next came the backstory, which took up about half the book.  Not only Margot’s backstory, but Ida has a difficult past as well, with some secrets.  This is where the book changes from a light romance to an intense, and emotional story.  

I would suggest that you look up the trigger warnings for this book if you get triggered.  There is sexual assault, abortion, abortion rights, adoption, desertion, lost family, assault, draft dodging, criminal injustice and so much more.  I can’t list it all.  Margot’s backstory is horrific, sad, and difficult to read.  But, it also made the book into so much more than just a nice romance.   I wanted to know how she survived such a difficult past and I couldn’t wait to find out.  I also enjoyed Ida’s backstory, although it’s not nearly as horrific as Margot’s.  

I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t like this book.  I loved it!  I felt like the author did a great job handling all the issues, and I was enthralled with the story.  It’s just that I didn’t EXPECT such tough issues in such a pretty book.  

I highly recommend Sugar and Salt to anyone who enjoys romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.

According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable." She is the recipient of three RITA (sm) awards and four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly for her books. The Winter Lodge and Passing Through Paradise have appeared on PW’s annual "Best Of" lists. Several of her books have been listed as top Booksense picks and optioned as feature films. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.

51 responses to “Book Review: Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

  1. Katherine

    The cover is so cute that I would never have guessed how much is going on. I’ve really enjoyed most of the books by Susan Wiggs but there was another book that seemed to pack in so many issues that I really struggled with it. This sounds like one of those. I’ll definitely pick up The Lost and Found Bookshop but may skip this one.

  2. This sounds like a great summer read with a lot of depth. I’m glad that this can be enjoyed as a standalone too. Thank you for sharing your review along with the trigger warnings!

  3. Seems like the cover doesn’t totally match what’s inside., so I would have been a bit surprised at the emotional intensity of the story. I’m so glad that didn’t stop you from enjoying it.

  4. Based on this review, I’m getting this book. It sounds wonderful. Grandmothers, baking, barbecue, and lots of emotion. Sounds like my kind of read!

  5. Jenny+McClinton

    This does sound very powerful, but I do like them kind of books, great review 💕

  6. Great review, Wendy. Thanks for the heads up on the heavier issues here. I was supposed to start this one today, but wanted to get another Christmas in July under my belt first. I do like a book that gives us characters that have had a lot to deal with and that they have moved on, so it sounds like I will love this one as well.

  7. I would expect a light fluffy romance from looking at that cover, but I also like a story I can sink my teeth into. Something that has a lot of emotional depth. This sounds wonderful!

  8. Wow! This story does have a lot of tough subjects in it, doesn’t it? It sounds like it was very well done, though. Glad you loved it! Excellent review!

  9. I’m a huge fan of this author. While the books may have lovely settings or cool careers like fashion design or a bakery or bookshop, they tackle real issues with complex characters. That are great books. I have this one on hold at the library. I didn’t realize it was in a series so I’ll have to look at that. Excellent review Wendy.

  10. I love the cover of this book! It sounds like a more emotional romance novel and you’ve done a great job letting us know what the book is about without giving anything away! A wonderful review!

  11. I’m glad this turned out worthwhile despite having a very different tone than what the cover promised. Great review.

  12. Great review. Interesting how the book is moving along with a Hallmark type romance and then gets into such deep issues. Life is not easy!