YOU'VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.
In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.
Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.
The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?
Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published: July 21st 2015 by Gallery Books
Three and a half stars: A sweet, fun, though predictable foodie romance.
Lou draws in a breath, she hates these uptight, dress up functions that her fiancé insists she attend. She would much rather be slaving behind a hot stove in her fledgling restaurant. Lou decides to suck it up and get through it. Later, when Devlin proposes she move in with him, instead of jumping for joy, Lou hesitates . Lou is comfortable in their relationship, but it bothers her that Devlin doesn't share her interests. He is even apathetic over Lou's restaurant's impending review from Milwaukee's top food critic. Then the worst thing happens, Lou catches Devlin with his assistant in a compromising situation. Heartbroken, Lou heads to the restaurant and proceeds to cook. Unfortunately, her emotions get the best of her, and dinner service is a disaster. To make matters worse, Lou has no idea that the food critic dined on her horrendous dish. The impending review is catastrophic. As Lou's restaurant dreams being to sink, she takes refuge in an unlikely friendship, but little does she know that the man she befriended is the very same food critic who trashed her restaurant. What will happen when Lou learns the truth?
What I Liked:
- The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a feel good, food infused, romantic read that has a strong You've Got Mail vibe to it. Being an avid fan of Mail, I knew I had to read this book. Needless to say, I enjoyed the romance and all things food. If you want a light, romantic read with a twist, check out this book.
- What made this book shine, aside from the romance, was the setting. I have never been to Wisconsin, so it was fun to visit vicariously. Al, the food critic, is a recent transplant to Milwaukee and he detests it. Things change once he accidentally bumps into Lou and they form a friendship that begins when Lou agrees to show Al around Milwaukee I loved all the food and the descriptions. While reading this, I found myself craving cheese sauce and curds as well as sausages and coconut cake. I love when books completely capture the essence of a city, and this one does just that. I enjoyed learning more about Milwaukee, and after reading this book, I am more than eager to visit to try some of the food featured in the book. If you are a reader that enjoys a good book filled with food, this is a terrific read.
- Let's talk about the romance..... the romance is wonderful. It starts out when Lou and Al bump into one another, and then by chance, meet again later. Neither knowing who the other one is, and what they do for a living. Al asks Lou to show him around the city, and she agrees, but part of her stipulations are that they refrain from discussing anything related to work, since Lou is trying to escape from her floundering restaurant. At the beginning of the friendship, neither knows that Al is the food critic who trashed Lou's restaurant. Instead they are focused on hanging out as friends, sampling all the fine food fare in Milwaukee. This is a slow burn romance. There is chemistry, but it takes its time to build into a nice friendship with lots of sparks, and then it becomes something more. I enjoyed the way it took its time to establish a friendship, and how the friendship changed both Al and Lou for the better before it moves into a romance. Then Al learns the truth. Leading him to make all kinds of drastic decisions. Will he follow his heart or walk away, because once Lou learns who he is, will she ever forgive him?
- This book has a strong cast of characters, and I found that I was just as engaged by the secondary characters as I was by Lou and Al. I loved Harvey and Sue, Lou's fellow chefs and friends. The elderly, German couple Otto and Gertrude are adorable. I think my favorite was the frumpy, badly dressed John, who just so happened to be the newspaper's style editor. John had all kinds of layers, and I loved seeing his transformation.
- I liked the way the conflict played out and how it was resolved. I won't, of course, go into to details, but I will say that I was pleased that there wasn't some miraculous intervention. Instead the book remained realistic. I also appreciated the way that Lou dug her way out of her terrible situation. She has a lot of heart and gumption, and she always had everyone else's best interests in mind. I was honestly surprised at the way it all worked out, I was expecting it to go another way.
- The ending, though a bit sad and bittersweet, ends on a lovely note, that left me smiling and content. I was most pleased to discover the recipe for Lou's Coconut Cake at the end. Score!
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I liked the whole anonymity thing in the romance, it got to the point where it didn't quite work. As Lou and Al's friendship formed, it grew harder and harder to believe that they could continue to not share what they really did for a living, especially after they had been hanging out for months. This isn't a big issue, but I felt that it started to strain believability after awhile.
- All the characters were terrific aside from Devlin. His character came across as flat, and I felt like he wasn't developed. His purpose was solely to serve as the villain. I wish the author had taken time to flesh him out a little bit better. I was left wondering about him, and I was disappointed that I never knew whether he really did cheat or not or why he remained so fixated on Lou.
- Unfortunately, this book was for the most part, predictable. It was clear how it was going to play out, and the only surprise for me was regarding how Lou picked up the pieces.
- While I enjoyed the romance, I started to struggle a bit with it when Al continued with the charade. I kept wishing that he would be more honest, or at the very least, try and make up for his mistake before telling Lou the truth. Instead he spun more lies, and I didn't feel like he really redeemed himself.
- This a minor niggle, but I found that I wanted to know more about Harvey and Sue. They are a big important part of Lou's life, and then they kind of disappear. There was even hints of a romance between them, but it doesn't pan out. I wished there was more of them in the story.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a sweet, fun and delicious little romance. It is perfect for fans of food and You've Got Mail. If you want a romance with a bit of a twist filled with a decadent food tour through Milwaukee, this book is for you. I found it to be a delightful, pick me up romance perfect for summer. My recommendation is grab this with a full belly, as this book will make your mouth water with all its yummy food descriptions!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.