I am not entirely sure how it happened, but I read three romances that featured baking show (okay one is technically a cooking show) settings. The influence on “The Great British Baking Show”. I also found that I really enjoy this setting!
As a note, I read all of these in 2021.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
Plot: Single mom Rosaline bets on herself and enters a baking competition.
I had so much fun with this one! The romance is really focus of the story and there is a love triangle (it’s been a second since I’d read one of those) and I actually did not hate it since it really showed Rosaline a lot about herself and her life. This novel (even with the focus on the romance) is more about Rosaline herself, her struggles, etc. and I thought it worked really well.
Rosaline is bisexual, and it is discussed a lot throughout the novel. From defending herself to her daughter’s biphobia teacher to having to deal with some serotypes queer women face to her ex-girlfriend being in her life it’s mentioned a lot and from my non queer perspective, it’s done very well and naturally.
I loved Rosaline’s daughter (even though she does fall into the category of a little “too perfect romance novel child” but I’ll allow it) and Lauren (her ex-girlfriend) was hilarious. Honestly this book has some great humorous moment and I loved how the humor was so different from Hall’s book Boyfriend Material (which I also highly recommend). Her friends on the baking show were also amazing and awesome side characters.
I reread this one recently and it was just as much fun the second time. Weirdly, the both times I’ve read this one I’ve been on vacation and it is really a great vacation read. Alexis Hall is quickly becoming an author that I need to read everything they have written because wow their books are fun. 4/5 stars
TW: attempted sexual assault
Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Plot: I’m going to be real with y’all. I don’t remember the plot of this one except two people enter a cooking competition. This one is American not British.
I really enjoyed the first half of the this! Dahlia and London were super cute and the plot was moving! But, the last half slowed down (especially once they got together). I really wasn’t a fan of the main “drama/conflict” at the end which made me not totally love this one. But the build up to them getting together was so good.
The side characters were all great and I’m hoping at least one of them gets their own love story in a sequel!
However, this is the first traditionally published romance with a nonbinary POV/love interest that I’ve read so I am still going to support this one a lot because it is so important to have love stories like this one published. I also can’t wait to read more from Anita Kelly!! 4/5 stars
TW: strained relationship with parents
*thanks to the publisher for an eARC; all thoughts are my own*
Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
Plot: Sylvie was kicked off a popular baking show when her creation nailed one of the judges with frosting and glitter. Now four years later, they own shops across the street from each other and now Sylvie is going to be a guest judge on the same show she was kicked off. But, they soon realize they have much more in common than they ever could have thought.
This was cute, but I had a hard time following the pacing and what was going on (lol). Ultimately, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
This one started off super strong for me. I loveee a grumpy/sunshine dynamic (even though Dominic is lowkey Paul Hollywood, which like, are we going to unpack that Lucy?). I loved their meeting and their rival shops across the street from each other.
But, my issue started with me having a hard time keeping track of the plot. Each chapter started with a quote from one of the side characters or a little humorous bit which I liked, but didn’t always indicate whose POV we were getting/where we were located. This book has a lot of settings from the cake show to their individual shops to the palace to the various shooting locations. I will note that I read most of this while I was tired and thus that could have contributed, but a romance should not be this hard to follow.
I also thought the plot was too big for this novel. I would have been perfectly happy sticking to the cake show and the dealing with the grief of losing family that both Dominic and Sylvie are dealing with. The rival shops and competing for the same contract was a lot. Honestly, adding in all the back story with the royals and their relationship was too much. Plus, there is the side plot with the guy who is stealing Sylvie’s recipes? Too much.
I did love Dom and Sylvie together. They were adorable. I loved the emphasis on Dom not liking touch and then seeing him be okay with Sylvie’s touch. So cute.
Overall, I’m sort of bummed I didn’t like this one more. I started a solid 4 star read and ended with me thinking it was between a 3 and a 3.5 for me. I see why so many people liked this one, but it truly got sidetracked from the main couple with all the side plots. I know they were there to bring the couple together, but it was too much for me.
Since reading this, I read Act Like It by Lucy Parker and it was SO GOOD. So will be reading more from her, this one just didn’t do it for me. 3/5 stars (possibly up to 3.5 stars)
Do you like this trend? I don’t hate it honestly.
Thanks for reading!