Rosaline Palmer thought she was making all the right turns in life by going to medical school like her parents wanted, but an unexpected pregnancy altered Rosaline’s path. Now, with an eight-year-old and trying to make ends meet working in a stationery shop, Rosaline still has no clear direction for her life. But Rosaline is now headed to a reality TV baking show with hopes of taking home the top prize.
Things get off to a rocky start for Rosaline on the way to the first week of filming, but one bright spot is co-contestant, Alain Pope. Alain is the exact sort of man that Rosaline’s parents would approve of, as he’s educated and refined and spending time with Alain seems like great way to let off all the pent-up stress Rosaline is carrying around. But then there’s also electrician, Harry, another contestant, who isn’t the sort of man that Rosaline is usually attracted to, and just the type of man her parents would not approve of.
As the competition continues over several weeks, Rosaline learns a lot about standing up for herself and listening to her heart. Love might not have looked like she thought it would, but with the right ingredients, Rosaline might find the perfect recipe for her own life.
I have read several books by Alexis Hall that I have enjoyed and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake caught my interest at first with Rosaline as the lead and centered around a baking competition. There were some good aspects to the story, as well as some aspects that were bland, and some aspects that weren’t to my tastes at all, which left me with an uneven read. Overall, I wanted to like this one more than I did.
Rosaline is a 27-year-old bisexual single parent. She wants to be the best parent for her daughter, but feels boxed in by life and she’s not sure how to get ahead. When she enters the baking competition, Rosaline feels this might be just the thing to move her life forward. The book centers around the weeks of the baking competition and it seems to have a similar feel to the Great British Bake-Off, but since I have not watched that in depth, I cannot compare the two.
On the way to the first taping, Rosaline meets Alain and he is her love interest for most of the book. It’s clear from the start that Alain is not a particularly good person, but Rosaline does not see that as he fits the model of what Rosaline thinks is a good match for her and what she knows her parents want. She then spends most of the book trying to force a relationship with Alain and missing important notes that Alain is not a safe person for her to be with. There is then Harry, who is not anything like Rosaline expected and she’s not interested in Harry for most of the book, except to think he’s good looking.
The format of the book got repetitive for me. We are moved through each week of the competition and there isn’t anything specifically memorable about any of the weeks. The producer of the show is verbally abusive to the contestants, screaming and cursing and belittling them, and they all took it. I do not understand why this is allowed and accepted as a way to treat people or to allow yourself to be treated and I was over it as soon as it began.
This is not a romance, but a story about Rosaline finding her way as she navigates the men and the women in her life, as well as her disapproving parents. It’s not a love triangle either, as she has no romantic interactions with Harry until later in the book. But I was missing that essential element that truly made me like any of these characters. Rosaline is fine and Harry is presented as a nice, but bland guy, since we don’t learn much about him at all. There also is barely any relationship development beyond a tentative friendship between Rosaline and Harry, as Rosaline really doesn’t want much to do with Harry until they become sort of friends and then move to a relationship and, by the end, there was not enough depth to become attached to them as a couple. The book is also long at almost 500 pages and there wasn’t enough there to create a spark for me through such a long story.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is not my favorite work from this author, but if you enjoy other books by Hall, a new one might be difficult to pass up.