LilyRose’s first kiss reminded her of raspberry sherbet. She has synesthesia, making her able to “see” sounds and “taste” shapes – such as kisses. Some are sweet like raspberry sherbet, but most are not. While her synesthesia is a gift, she has been subject to ridicule by others and it has made her an outcast. LilyRose and her mother, Zee, do everything they can to make sure no one knows about her difference.
Now 35 and single, LilyRose has carved out a life for herself and stays within her own protective little shell where things are safe. She has thrown her energy and entire life into her gift basket business. She feels like an accomplished woman, although there is no room in her life for a serious relationship. Her main social contact is through her mother. Zee boards a few tenants in her home and cooks dinner nightly; LilyRose joins them for dinner on a regular basis.
While LilyRose readily accepts her mother’s invitations to dinner, she disapproves of her mother taking in boarders. However, Zee is lonely since her husband and LilyRose’s father, Cy, died; she feels less alone with people in the house. Zee has in particular taken a liking to Kent, a previous boarder. Their feelings are mutual, and the two cautiously explore the possibility of a relationship. Zee has to decide if she is ready to take that step - she has not dated a man since her husband’s death.
When a snobby customer named Bitsy makes disparaging comments about Joey, the granddaughter of Zee’s next-door neighbor who shaved her head in an apparent act of defiance, LilyRose hits her over the head with a basket. Bitsy overreacts and calls 911; LilyRose is led away in handcuffs and charged with assault. Joey’s father, Alex, a boarder in Zee’s home, picks up LilyRose from the police station and offers words of comfort. It is clear that he is grateful that LilyRose protected his daughter.
Though LilyRose finds Alex a bit nerdy, she feels an odd pull of attraction toward him.. The remainder of the book is LilyRose exploring and sorting out those feelings while Alex goes off on moody spells, usually related to Joey’s well-being. While LilyRose and Alex clash at times, it becomes clear that they are going to become “an item.” The question is, will Alex be the man to embrace her unique nature?
Raspberry Sherbet Kisses is not one of the better NEXT books. The storyline is slow, and my interest waned at times. The novel may have made a better short story. The title is too frothy for the story itself, and the whimsical cover comes across as more of a marketing ploy than an accurate “hint” as to what the book is about. That said, the author does a great job of developing the characters ; that is the strong portion of this book. The characters are well-drawn enough to keep readers turning the pages.