Reviewed by Christy
This year has been rough, and what better way to take one’s mind off current events than to pick up a light, fluffy book with a light, fluffy cake on the cover. Lou owns the French restaurant Luella’s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She works non-stop to keep her new business afloat but she absolutely loves her job, and her co-workers are more like family than employees. She only wishes her fiancé Devlin were more supportive of her career ambitions. He routinely suggests restaurant work is too hard, and she should give it up. Lou begins to suspect he only wants a chef for a wife to impress clients at dinner parties.
Despite her misgivings, Lou decides to surprise Devlin on his birthday with cake for breakfast (coconut cake to be exact), only to catch Devlin in a compromising situation with his young intern. Blind-sided, Lou does the only think she can think to do: she goes to work. Heart broken and distracted, Lou ends up cooking the worst meal she’s ever made only to unwittingly serve it to the Milwaukee newspaper’s new food critic. Al is a grumpy, British transplant who can’t wait to leave Milwaukee behind. He rips Luella’s to shreds.
While Lou drowns her sorrows in a local pub, she meets Al, and they hit it off. Neither know who the other truly is but Lou agrees to show Al the best parts of Milwaukee as long as they don’t talk about work. Al finds himself having a blast with Lou and looking forward to all their outings. Lou feels the same, and appreciates the break from worrying about her now-failing business.
Anyone who enjoyed You’ve Got Mail, or romantic comedies in general, will enjoy this book. Both the leads are likable (even though Al got off on the wrong foot, I did warm up to him), and watching their romance unfold is delightful. And of course, as a reader, you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop which brings the drama! However, I think my favorite parts of the book were all the festivals Lou takes Al to and the descriptions of the food. The way I felt reading it is how I feel watching The Great British Bake-Off: cozy, in awe of what people can do with food, and a little hungry. And yes, all the festival talk made me a little wistful for all the festivals we’ll miss this year. But books like The Coincidence of Coconut Cake are a good second choice.