Book Review: The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane by Jeannie Chin

About the Book:

Title: The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane

Author: Jeannie Chin

Page Length: 459

Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2021

Publisher: Forever

Synopsis: June Wu always has it all together—only now, she’s in over her head. Her family’s inn desperately needs guests, her mother’s medical debts are piling up, and the surly, if sexy, stranger next door is driving away the customers she has left! When he asks for June’s help, though, she can’t say no. After all, his new bar could be just what the upcoming Pumpkin Festival needs to bring in more tourists. But with the fierce attraction between them, will working together be playing with fire?

Ex-soldier Clay Hawthorne prefers being on his own. He’s moved to Blue Cedar Falls for one reason—to carry out his best friend’s dream of opening a bar in the hometown he’ll now never return to. But the town’s business association is trying to stop Clay’s progress. June soon becomes his biggest supporter, and while their partnership is supposed to be only temporary, for the first time Clay wants something permanent—with June. Can two total opposites really learn to meet each other in the middle?

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

A heartwarming story, The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane follows rivals June Wu and Clay Hawthorne as they butt heads and eventually fall in love. Clay is new to the area. A retired soldier, he is haunted by the past and deeply grieves the loss of his best friend. Clay is a solitary man intent on fulfilling his friend’s wish to open a bar in his hometown. He’s had a difficult life and is tough with a lot of rough edges, which I understood, but he has such a terrible attitude at the start of the story. He angers a lot of people, and he just doesn’t care. In fact, he seems to enjoy it, which didn’t endear me to his character. Of course, the more you get to know Clay, the more you understand him, and he changes quite a bit over the course of the story. I think the more he learns about the town, the community, and himself, the more he changes. Clay is faced with many obstacles when trying to make his best friend’s dream a reality, one of which is June.

June is a hardworking and caring perfectionist who is doing everything she can to keep her family afloat. She has a lot of responsibility between running the family inn, figuring out how to pay her mother’s mounting hospital bills, and trying to figure out how to reinvigorate the town to help her business. She’s so dedicated to her family (and her family and friends are fantastic!), and even when she makes mistakes, it’s clear that she loves them and wants to protect them. June is like the glue that holds her family together, and she puts a lot of pressure on herself. This is why, initially, she sees Clay as an annoyance and a threat to her livelihood. However, she soon realizes how his business could benefit the entire town.

June and Clay have great chemistry and a steamy opposites-attract, enemies-to-lovers romance. Clay is a grumpy and solitary man, and June is outgoing and optimistic. I think both characters grow and change over the course of the story, and as they became closer, they end up complementing each other well. Both characters are well layered and interesting, as is their growing relationship.

The story takes place in Blue Cedar Falls, a quaint small-town that is economically struggling since a new highway that bypasses the town was built. In an effort to encourage tourism and a potential economic boost, the town holds a pumpkin festival. I love small-town settings with fun community events. It adds a lot of charm to the story. However, the book also highlights some of the detriments to living in this small town, including financial issues, prejudice, and homophobia. The story also touches on topics like PTSD, death, grief, racism, and other prejudices, so I would definitely check the content warnings, as these topics might be triggering for some readers. I like that the author doesn’t shy away from the problems that many towns face. It definitely creates a layered and realistic town and community.

Overall, I thought this was an engaging and heartwarming story and an interesting start to a new series. I think readers who like contemporary romance with compelling protagonists and secondary characters, as well as a steamy romance, will like this book. Thanks so much to Forever Publishing for sending me a copy of the book!


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The characters.
  • The small town charm.


I would check out the content warnings before reading the book, as some topics might be triggering for some readers, including death, grieving, PTSD, trauma, and more.

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