I will be the first to admit that I am in love with The Captivating Captains series coauthored by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead. Their latest, The Captain and the Baker, is a smidge more romantic than the others I have read, but no less delightful. These stories are often a bit over the top, in my opinion, but so much fun, nonetheless. By over the top, I mean there is often an element of insta-love or attraction followed up by a lot of gushing romantic interludes that are sprinkled with a hefty does of humor and very little angst. If you are in the mood for a straight up rom-com kind of novel, then this fit the ticket perfectly.
In this case, Jake Brantham, a Michelin star chef and TV star, is about to begin a new show where he refits or renovates a defunct restaurant and presides culinarily over a wedding. all filmed for an audience. In order to give the viewers a taste of who they will vote in as the winning couple, each must have a chef from their town take on one of Jake’s recipes while he yells, swears. and basically tries to ruffle them to the point of the chef screwing up. It’s all for the benefit of his fans who love them some swearing, tantrum throwing Chef Jake. But the young couple from Cornwall have brought not a chef, but a top notch baker, someone whose books and program chases Jake’s own in the ratings and who is seemingly unflappable.
Locryn Trevorrow loves his chosen profession. Baking is his passion and winning the contest for his friends is something he would love to do. Plus, the gorgeous Jake Brantham may seem rough and unapproachable, but Locryn isn’t scared in the least. When his recreated dish meets with grudging approval by the master chef and his friends go on to win the competition, Jake is forced to go on location to the small village of Porthavel and refurbish his very own pirate ship that will serve as the venue for the wedding day. But as Jake gets to know both Locyrn and the people of Porthavel, he realizes his brash and hot-tempered ways are no match for the charm and welcoming arms of the small community he comes to admire. Not only that, but all the things he assumed were only for show about Locryn turn out to be true—he really is an expert baker who lives in a small cottage and loves what he does and the people he does it for. Locryn’s charms begin to wear Jake down and he is shocked to discover he doesn’t mind one bit.
There is a magical air about Locryn and Jake as they maneuver their way into being a couple. Jake finds his peace and happiness in the last place he ever expected—a small coastal town in Cornwall in the arms of a baker. Locryn discovers that despite previous relationships never working out, Jake is a keeper and understands his passion for baking and how his love flows through the many delicious pastries and confections he creates. There are some brilliantly funny moments in this novel, as well as some tender and painful memories that emerge and force Jake to reevaluate his approach to doing the show, while enabling him to find his own passion once again in the process.
Those familiar with this series will feel as though they are visiting with old friends when they begin this novel, yet it is most definitely a standalone. That is part of the excellence of this writing team—they create characters who are both magical and yet approachable and recognizable. They welcome the reader in and invite them to visit while unfolding a rich comedic romance that is sure to make you smile. I truly enjoy these stories and The Captain and the Baker is another sweet installment in this fun-loving series.