I love frosting, which is why the cover of "The Bake-Off," by Beth Kendrick, drew me in right away. And that was just the icing on a delicious cake of a story.
Amy and Linnie are sisters, but they couldn't be more different if they tried. Amy is outgoing and popular, as well as a happily married mom who tends to over-commit herself. She's cute, but in an average way. Linnie is intelligent and withdrawn, rarely smiles at anyone and quick to lose her temper. She's beautiful but tends to hide that fact under baggy and drab clothes. The sisters are brought together for a week of baking and living it up in the Big Apple when their grandmother tricks them into entering a contest together. Will they be able to survive the week without ripping each other to shreds?
I really enjoyed this story from beginning to end. It was easy to get into right away and to follow along throughout. Ms. Kendrick has a good use of visualization. It's easy to picture the people and places involved. (And let's not forget the images of food!) At first, I thought I would be able to connect with Amy more since we had some things in common. However, I found myself connecting with Linnie in the same way I connected with Maggie in "In Her Shoes" when I was more like Rose. (There's one thing Linnie does that is totally something I would do!) I liked the witty humor and the mockumentary feel of the baking contest. It was satirical without going overboard.
I don't have that much to criticize for this story. It's more about what I would have wished to see. The only actual criticism is that Amy and Linnie seemed to resolve their differences rather quickly after all the time apart and resentment that had built between them. It was like they became best friends overnight. I would have liked to see more of a build up before they got back to where they started from. I also wanted to see more depth from Amy. It seemed like Linnie had a lot of secrets and issues to resolve for herself. Amy just needed "me time" for the most part. She sometimes came off as more of a supporting role than a lead. I also would have liked the "romantic" scenes to go on past kissing. The potential was there for something exciting to be written, but then it faded out to the next scene after the kissing had taken place. I could just be spoiled by steamy "romantic" scenes in other novels though.
Overall, "The Bake-Off" was an entertaining, humorous and sweet (also literally) story. It was my first "taste" of Ms. Kendrick's writing and now I want second (and even third) helpings of her novels. Grab a fork and dig in!
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