by Rosie Chase
Series: Sugar & Spice #1
Publisher: Under Hill Press
Publication Date: January 10, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
I've always been told I can't have my cake and eat it too. But when celebrity baker Michael Godwin wants a piece of me... how can I deny him?
Sam Davis has been fan-girling over Michael “The Cake King” Godwin for years. So, when she receives a letter from Godwin asking her to compete in a private baking competition where the prize could pull her (and her adoptive family) out of poverty, how can she say no?
There’s just one problem: Sam is an amateur baker from a no-name restaurant in a tiny town nobody’s ever heard of. How is she supposed to hold her own against some of the country’s best up-and-coming pastry chefs?
She’ll have to dig deep and discover what she’s really made of if she wants to win because the prize here isn’t just first place. It’s The Cake King’s heart.
This RomCom is a silly but very sexy take on baking competitions, billionaire romance, and sugary sweet happy endings. Full of bawdy jokes and brilliant besties baking their way to a happily ever after, each of the Sugar and Spice novellas are meant to be devoured in a couple of hours and--taking place over the same two weeks--they can be read in any order.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »minor character gets injured in a car accident (off-page), references to homelessness, parental abandonment, death of MC’s grandmother when she was a teen « Hide Spoiler
Michael Godwin, the Cake King, has summoned several bakers from across the country to Lexington in order to hold his own private bake-off to determine who’ll bake the cake for his celebrity sister’s wedding. Sam’s not quite sure what she’s doing in a room full of big name bakers, considering she just does desserts at a tourist restaurant in Appalachia, but she’s determined to win the prize in order to help save her family’s restaurant. Nellie and Eric took her in after her grandmother died, and while the restaurant is successful, they’re drowning in medical debt. Problem is, she can’t keep her eyes off Michael, and it seems like he can’t keep away from her, either. Is he just a distraction that’ll lose her the competition, or could a bake-off fling turn into something more?
“This was all just magic.
And Michael might be the Cake King but I wasn’t a princess.”
Sam has a lot of self-confidence issues. She feels like she doesn’t fit in with the bakers around her, and she definitely doesn’t fit in to what she imagines the Cake King’s life to be. Michael’s sweet and kind, and turns out he’s as great a kisser as she imagined, but his glitzy Cake King world isn’t where she belongs. Michael came off a bit flat as a character for me – I’ve never been a big fan of the “why yes I’m rich but aw shucks I’m just a country boy”-style guys – but he and Sam have definite chemistry. The insta-love? Also not a fan of that, but what really bothered me was that they started their relationship while she was still competing in the bake-off…. and none of the other competitors seemed to care. At that point, I basically just disengaged the rational part of my brain and went along for the ride.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Sam. I’m a baker.”
Why I said my profession in addition to my name, why I said I’m a baker and not a friend, why I said anything other than my name was a mystery to me. It’s just what came out. Apparently, it was how I self-identified.”
So now that I’ve basically thrown the whole plot out the window, what’s left? Well, the sex scenes are steamy and pretty varied for a novella. There’s very little conflict between Michael and Sam – pretty much all of the angst is from Sam’s worries that she doesn’t fit into Michael’s life and that it’s only a matter of time before he throws her to the curb. The baking competition itself doesn’t play as much of a role as I’d have liked, but it’s very GBBO-style. Sam becomes pretty good friends with some of the other competitors, and talkative, raunchy Rei serves as a good foil for her throughout the book. Also, do not read this novella hungry! Besides the delicious baked goods, there’s also lots of delicious southern food (mmm, chicken and dumplings and collard greens) and lots of restaurants (shawarma, sashimi, yum).
Overall, the book is pretty ridiculous, but it’s also so sweet and fluffy (and steamy) that I have a hard time holding that against it – so 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3. The rest of the series seems to be in Kindle Unlimited, so I’ll probably give them a try as well!