Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86398-3
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Ooh, desserts and romance – I always have a fondness of such a combination. Bet on My Love, just like JM Jeffries’s last few books, features characters that are so amazing in what they do that they are practically demigods in their discipline. Here, however, the chemistry between the very likable hero and heroine manages to prevent the story from becoming a snooze of a read.
Hendrix Beausolies makes some of the best pastries you will ever taste – if not the best. She quits her job at a café when her mentor’s daughters take over the business and start becoming overbearing and mean, and their loss is the gain of Casa de Mariposa, now shaping up to be one of the most fabulous and well-patronized casino-hotel in Reno. Donovan Russell, our hero, is the chef in charge of making sure that the food is always awesome, and when he tastes the samples Hendrix brings with her to the interview, he hires her on the spot to become the new pastry chef. He has never tasted such amazing cupcakes, and everyone else agrees. So now Casa de Mariposa has awesome food, rooms, and casino. Do we have a sibling who is a doctor? Maybe the next book will see the casino opening a hospital wing too.
Hendrix is the kind of heroine who likes to do things her own way, which means she needs to wear her own chef coat to get her mojo going. She also cannot resist making changes to the recipes of the items on the dessert menu. All her experimentation only makes the desserts more scrumptious, of course, but her ways rub Donovan the wrong way as he’s become a by-the-book sort over the years. But she takes him to dancing classes, inspires him to experiment with his own recipes, and get smoke coming out from his oven, so it has to be love.
Meanwhile, someone is sabotaging the kitchen, and both Donovan’s ex-wife and Hendrix’s ex-employers seem to have issues in letting these two move on.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the romance makes this story very fun to read. The author captures the whole “slowly discovering new things about the person to love” aspect perfectly in this story, and both Hendrix and Donovan are likable types who communicate and click perfectly. I also like how the secondary characters support the budding romance without being too intrusive and creepy – there is no pushing from other people for these two to shag or other nonsense like that, just folks who think it’s cute that these two are getting along so well because it means great food for everyone, heh.
The author does many other things right here – the conversations feel like something real folks would get into (even the “bro talk” moments), the secondary characters aren’t intrusive or all “Buy my book! Find out why I’m so pregnant right now!”, and the food descriptions make my mouth water.
Alas, the heroine turns into a dingbat in the late quarter or so of the book, when she for some reason believes that her ex-employers will stop giving her new employers problems if she just runs away. Hendrix seems pretty sharp all the way to that moment, when she mutates suddenly into a twit who thinks that a lawsuit can be dismissed just because she’s changing jobs. The whole transformation is so abrupt that I can only wonder this thing occurs just because the author feels that there has to be some kind of martyr drama for maximum impact. No, that doesn’t work.
Also, take note that the author can get unnecessarily petty about skinny and beautiful women – whom, naturally, must have starved themselves to get such a waistline. Meanwhile, women who eat a lot are described as “real” people. Has it ever occurred to you that men who make a lot of effort to get all buffed up rarely get egged by romance authors about relying on steroids and protein shakes while forgoing normal meals, but any skinny and blonde hot woman is automatically fair game to be mocked? I don’t know why this is always the case. Do romance authors assume that all romance readers are fat and jealous of skinny hot women? Okay, my own weight and waistline are not going to disprove the “romance readers are overweight” stereotype anytime soon, but come on, such pointless mocking of skinny hot women only makes the heroine and hero look petty. It’s also easy for these fictitious characters to hypocritically mock people who wish to look good and thin, because they will never get fat even if they eat a gallon of whale fat every two hours. Body acceptance means being secure and content with one’s looks and weight, not thin-shaming people at every available opportunity.
Anyway, despite the hiccups here and there, Bet on My Love is a yummy read, and I’m feeling very hungry after reading it.