Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer hopes that appearing on a popular baking competition, Bake Expectations, will change the trajectory of her life. Winning the prize money would allow her to give her daughter a better life and prove to her parents that she didn’t throw her future away when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter. The baking challenges, however, aren’t the only thing standing between Rosaline and victory. A few fellow competitors have caught her eye and she finds herself torn between parent-approved Alain Pope and shy, humble Harry Dobson. On paper, Alain is everything she should want but it is Harry who makes her start to rethink what she was raised to believe was a successful, happy life.

Ok so I’ve never actually seen The Great British Bakeoff (I have seen The Great Canadian Baking Show, though – thanks Dan Levy!) but I am a fan in general of baking competitions so it was fun to read a story set on one of those competitions. The whole competition, and the way the book was structured by the different weeks, was so much fun to read. Such a cast of characters here, from the other competitors to the host, judges, and producers – it was very entertaining. Honestly, if the competition was the only thing happening in this book – I still would have really enjoyed it.

But as it happens there was also some romance and a lot of personal growth sprinkled into the pages of this one. Let’s talk about the personal growth portion for a moment. I had my ups and downs with Rosaline. Overall I liked her, she was a strong heroine. But there were moments I didn’t like her behavior – mainly when it came to Harry, early on – but the more I got to understand her, I realized a lot of the way she acted was due to her upbringing. It was more conditioning than how she actually felt and I really liked seeing her evolve over the course of the story. Seeing her kind of break out of what was expected of her and did what made her happy instead was a great character arc.

This leads me to the romantic aspect of this book. I know this book is marketed as a romance, and there definitely is a romance (or two) that unfolds but overall the book read more to me as women’s literature with Rosaline’s journey being the central theme. But she does have two love interests – Alain and Harry. Alain is the one who matches up with the life she feels she should want, based on her parents and societal expectations. But it’s Harry who makes her really feel like the person she wants to be. It’s not exactly a love triangle but it kind of is… and I won’t spoil it for you (because things take a few turns you may not be expecting!). My one complaint is that I wanted more between Rosaline and the guy she ultimately picks. You’ll understand why when you read it.

But all in all, I enjoyed this story and I’m very much looking forward to the next season of Bake Expectations in Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble that was recently released!

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