Mini Reviews #9: Delicious Romance

I had a little while, there, where basically I seemed to be reading was romance with food stores involved… Don’t ask me why or how, but suddenly that was happening. And guess what? It was great! Here’s my mini-reviews for The Cake Shop in the Garden and more delicious romance!

 The Cake Shop in the Garden

The story

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn’t do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she’s ever made. When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay’s entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision – even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in The Cake Shop in the Garden.

The opinion

Sometimes, one summer can completely change everything – and that’s exactly what happens in this book. In the course of one summer, Fay has to completely rethink everything she thought about her job, her family, and her own history. This book offers a colourful variety of characters – where Fay’s mother is an absolute nightmare, her sister struck me mainly as a spoiled thing. Then, there’s her boyfriend who  – honestly? From the get-go just seems like he’s up to something not-good.

Probably the only characters I really liked, other than Fay, were her assistant, Lija, her set customer, Stan, and the man-who-shakes-everything-up, Danny. The common denominator for these three? They’re not afraid to say it as it is. And that mainly seems to consist of calling out the absolute crap both Fay’s mum and her sister put her through.

That directly leads me to the one thing that kept me from rating this book higher… The fact that Fay seemed to non-stop undermine her own worth, and profile herself as the “ultimate do-gooder”.  She seemed to be so busy excusing other people’s behaviour towards her, and ignoring signs that really shouldn’t have been ignored… Honestly, I was surprised at some points that she’d actually survived – with her business, or just at all :p

Rating: 3/5 (Goodreads)

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams

The story

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money …the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag …Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian’s sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton’s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams – a novel – with recipes.

The opinion

While reading this book, I was constantly torn between loving it, and cringing. There’s a certain “Bridget Jones”-esque quality to Rosie Hopkins that I’m not really sure I enjoyed too much. That’s 100% on me, though, because I just can’t really deal with people that make “all the stupid decisions”.

In general, I feel as if Rosie hasn’t really gotten the best hand, as far as the people around her go – her mother’s basically moved across the world from her. Rosie’s boyfriend is completely dependent on the women in his life to, you know… Stay alive, basically? And while I wish Rosie would’ve kicked him out sooner, Jenny Colgan does make you see why she can’t, really.

Probably my favourite part of this entire book, were aunt Lilian’s flash backs. They give such an intriguing view on her early life, and that, together with the gorgeous descriptions of the little village is probably what did sell me on this book!

Rating: 3.5/5 (Goodreads)

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle

The story

When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.

When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew. But cupcake by cupcake she wins the locals over, including teashop stalwart, Doris, and Ellie’s showstopping bakes look set to go down in castle history!

Now all that’s missing in Ellie’s life is a slice of romance – can Joe, the brooding estate manager, be the one to put the cherry on the top of Ellie’s dream?

The opinion

I don’t know what it is about women who are (slightly) stuck in their lives, but apparently this post is full of them. And just as was the case in the previous two books, it’s a food shop that – somehow, eventually, helps them get out of that. In this case, though, the book could have benefitted from a little more of a focus on that store. After Ellie basically lies her way into a job at the Claverham Castle, it was kind of fun to see her discover exactly how to run the teashop.

Unfortunately, just like in the summary, it seemed as if the author suddenly decided to add in some romance – just for the sake of it. The writing was quite entertaining in general, the descriptions made me long to visit Claverham Castle… But I just didn’t really feel as if there was that much chemistry between Ellie and Joe. While they certainly made an excellent team working on the castle? That wasn’t so much the case as far as romance was concerned. A pity, really, because the story certainly had more potential than the actual writing ended up giving the reader.

Rating: 2/2 (Goodreads)

Have you read any of these? If so, do let me know what you thought!

-Saar