Sugar and Salt [Book Review]

July 29, 2022

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs (cover) Image: tight focus on a woman's hands around a cake pedestal holding a pink and white frosted layer cake

Genre/Categories/Setting: Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction, San Francisco, Texas

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @HarperCollins @WilliamMorrowBooks @WmMorrowBooks for a complimentary e ARC of #SugarAndSalt upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Margot, a BBQ master from Texas, desperately needs a fresh start and ends up in San Francisco where she opens her own BBQ restaurant. Located right across from The Lost and Found Bookshop, the restaurant shares a commercial kitchen with Jerome, a handsome baker. She names her restaurant Salt and the bakery next door is called Sugar. The right combination of salt and sugar is also the secret to her award-winning BBQ sauce, As Margot and Jerome become friends, Margot’s traumatic past in Texas comes back to haunt her.

***Because of needed content warnings, this review may contain spoilers.

My Thoughts:

Do you choose a book by its cover?

Cover and Author: First, I must address the cover. To me, it doesn’t match the story and might mislead readers. 1. The main character is not a baker….she’s a BBQ master. Jerome is the baker. 2. Although the title is multilayered in its meaning, at first glance the title references two baking ingredients (especially sugar) and the image of a pink and white cake might suggest chick lit (and a cute bakery romance) and I would not categorize this story as chick lit. 3. If you have read the author’s last book, The Lost and Found Bookshop (as referenced on the cover), you might expect a lighter read….a romance…since Sugar and Salt is set in the same neighborhood across from the bookshop.

Expectations: Based on the above facts and a quick glance at the cover, I expected a lighter read and a sweet romance between a baker and a restauranteur. Although well-written and compelling, I was not prepared for the heavy and traumatic content. The publisher’s summary suggests that the main character has a past that catches up to her but doesn’t allude to the trauma involved. In fact, my expectation was that the romance would be the heart of the story whereas, in fact, the past is the major part of the story. Readers need to be aware of violent rape. Did I mention that the cover is misleading?!

Compelling: Once I adjusted my expectations, I found Sugar and Salt compelling, well-written, and page-turning. Margot is brave and has no quit in her. The author addresses many issues such as racism, assault, self-defense, the justice system, access to abortion, adoption, prison, privilege, interracial relationships, and includes LGBTQ representation.

Structure: Most of the story takes place in the past as we become aware of Margot’s past trauma and the circumstances that cause her to make a new start in life. We also hear the backstories of other primary characters.

Themes: justice, unwanted pregnancy, legal representation, access to abortion, adoption, healthy relationships, friendship, women supporting women, mentorship, reconciliation, interracial relationships, second chances, starting over, finding your voice, racism

Recommendation: I did enjoy Sugar and Salt but it’s not an easy read and I’m recommending it with the mention that it contains heavy and perhaps triggering content. There is a side of lovely romance but it takes a back seat to the trauma. I would not categorize this as romance or friendship fiction as some on Goodreads have done as it suggests a much lighter read.

Trigger Warnings and Content Consideration: violent rape, gun violence, murder, prison

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

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Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs (cover) Image: tight focus of a woman's hands touching a cake platter with a pink layered cake resting on the pedestal

Sugar and Salt Information Here

Meet the Author, Susan Wiggs

Author Susan Wiggs

I like to believe I am the person my dogs think I am.

I phone my parents every day, as they are elderly and adorable, and they read me stories every day of my freakishly normal childhood. I was a writer before I learned to read, by creating scribbles on paper and dictating the stories to my saintly mother. You can see examples here:

Untold eons later, I still read and write every day and I’ve gotten very good at it. I live in a ridiculously gorgeous place in the world–an island in Puget Sound, Washington where we have a lot of the same flowers you grow in the UK. But bigger slugs. Much bigger slugs.

I have lots more to tell you, so please join me on Facebook and check out pictures of my dogs and tell me what’s on your mind.


Is Sugar and Salt on your TBR or have you read it?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. Excellent review, Carol. I just finished this one today and can’t agree more. As Margot’s past is revealed, my jaw dropped. It was a well written story and like you, once I wrapped my head around the story that was so different from my expectations, it was a poignant and eye opening story.

  2. I agree with your excellent review. I think you described the story very well and left it up to others to determine if this is for them or not. I did enjoy the story very much, but it sure wasn’t what I expected!

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