Blurb: Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.
Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory. Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.
Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.
Review: After reading Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall I promptly became obsessed with his work, devouring his backlist and stalking him lovingly on social media. I even managed to get him to participate in an Author Spotlight for this blog which you can view here. Needless to say, the moment his newest book Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake became available I requested an ARC immediately.
I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to go from reading his hot enemies-to-lovers, fake dating gay romance to a sweet, baking-themed romance featuring a queer, but very much female, heroine but as it turned out Hall's writing is so delightfully quirky, strange, and relatable that it didn't much matter who the main character was or what path the plot was going to take... I was going to love it no matter what.
Plus, I'm like super into Great British Baking Show and this book is basically a not-real-but-could-be behind the scenes look into the beloved show. So, if you love spending hours watching baking shows, you know you're going to love this book
Our heroine Rosaline Palmer is what we in the romance business refer to as a 'hot mess' in the absolute best way. The best way being, 'Holy shit, she's not a perfect, do-no-wrong heroine but she's actually kind of me and I both love that (because it's so delightfully refreshing to read such a normal, every day woman as a heroine) and hate that (because now I'm forced take a good hard look at myself)'. Rosaline is bisexual and though this book is about her relationships with two men I liked the way that Hall forced us to see the every day inherent discrimination against bisexual individuals as well as their fantastical oversexualization by society and the media.
Whoa, I'm beginning to sound like a graduate school essay right now.
Anyways, Rosaline is amazing. She's doing her absolute best with the hand she's been dealt by the world and honestly, it's admirable. I really loved that she made plenty of mistakes throughout the book, but they were too-stupid-to-live mistakes, but rather '-damn-I-probably-would-have-made-the-same-mistake' mistakes.
Harry, our adorable cinnamon-roll, is the perfect hero. He's far from the suave, wealthy, brilliant heroes we are used to from so many romance novels these days. He's working-class, overly anxious, and frequently puts his own foot in his mouth. But he's willing to listen and learn and change and apologize. Everything the reader things they know about him from the first time he speaks is constantly challenged throughout the book until you're forced to realize that first impressions are hardly ever correct.
I should note, because I think it's important, the Rosaline does spend a majority of the book pursuing a physical relationships with another man. I thought it would bother me, but it didn't. I mean, don't get me wrong...it was annoying as shit and I was constantly yelling at her for making all the wrong choices, but it was actually refreshingly... real. We don't always fall for the right person and we sometimes make decisions that are bad for us, but that doesn't mean it's ever too late to change our minds or move in a different direction. Still, I know for some people this is a huge deal breaker when it comes to their romance novels (just, maybe give it a chance anyways? Please?)
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is also a massive, massive slow-burn which is pretty on par with Boyfriend Material in a way, but very unlike many of Hall's other books. And the heat isn't explosive at any point so much as it is... warm and cuddly and the kind of romance that sneaks up on your rather than bashing you in the face. I found all this strangely nice given how insta-lust/love a lot of my books have been lately. Still, I don't know that I've ever read a sex scene that was so... PC without being fucking in your awkward face about it. The kind of sex we should all dream to achieve with our lovers (communication, sex toys, and respect).
And most amazingly, in my opinion, Alexis Hall created a quirky, intelligent, probably should be annoying but isn't child character (Rosaline's daughter, Amelie). That's the best part of Hall's books... every character is slightly over the top but somehow still totally real. How does he do it?
Basically, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake gives you all the wit and humor of Alexis Hall writing, all the delicious-ness of British baking shoes, and all the slow-burn heat of an Asian television drama (but with actual sex instead of just hand-holding or light pecks on the cheek). This book is going to change the way you read romance novels.