All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Oh, for Christ's sake. Kat works at a cupcake bakery in Bayou Bend, Louisiana, and yearns to breathe free, or make more interesting cupcakes at least. Her long-time bestie is Lucas, the local high school football coach. There's just this one thing...they've each gone sweet on the other, but are scared to come clean for fear of blowing up the friendship and ending up with nothing. Okay. I get that, at least to begin with. In fact, this novel is as sweet and easy as a cupcake at the start. Even the cover art is appealing. What could go wrong?
The two of them like to watch a Food Network reality show called Cupcake Combat. Sounds familiar, yeah? (Just go with it.) Lucas gets the brainstorm to secretly send in an application for Kat to be on the show, and wouldn't ya know, she's accepted. I'll tell you what she's won, or *will* win if she defeats these other six baking teams: she wins a year's internship at a prestigious New York bakery. But she needs an assistant, so coach dons an apron and off they go to L.A.
So far so good, right? The first flashing neon sign I encountered, saying "Turn back!" appeared around page 125 or so, when a couple of clumsily inserted religious references got wedged in. By about the third one, I investigated the small print on the back cover, and sure enough: FICTION/CHRISTIAN/ROMANCE. From that point on, in an evident effort to be able to market this turkey to a niche audience, the narrative keeps hitting these defects in the track as it chugs along. ("Should I get strawberry, or chocolate? WWJD?")
But still, the religious stuff wasn't any heavier than vanilla icing, and was only a mild annoyance, mostly because it didn't flow. What turned this book into a torture device worthy of Torquemada was the way these two grown people danced around each other for 300 pages. Want to read about 50 pages of Lucas wringing his hands like an old woman, worrying whether he should tell Kat how he feels? Want to watch him jump-back-jack as if she were electrified, every time they might actually touch? Want to slog through 150 pages of Kat's insecurities and misinterpretations and general whiney baby nonsense? ("He gave me a million dollars, a ring, and his autographed Knute Rockne football....he's obviously trying to get rid of me! Boo hoooooo....")
Really, this woman--who I actually liked at first--must be brain damaged or have been recently poleaxed with a railroad tie or something, because the reader and everybody else in the western world will figure out that coach digs her long before she ever does. And as for coach, he dithers around and analyzes more than a lesbian or a 12 year old boy. I am no fan of vulgarity, but I began to long for Burgess Meredith's character from Grumpy Old Men to show up and tell Lucas, "Ya mount the woman, son!" Seriously, this football coach must have had a horse riding accident in his youth or been hit in the grapes with a bowling ball at some point, because he just will NOT make a move, and is actually horrified when a buddy asks if he slept with Kat. "NO!" he responds, as if he'd been accused of selling crack to kittens. There's Christianity, my dears, and then there's idiocy. One is reminded of the Newsboys lyric "Do you really want a love that waits its turn?" Because that's what Lucas does, for 300 pages, agonizing like a palsied jellyfish the whole while.
Oh, eventually--like, 3 pages from the end--they actually throw all caution to the wind and actually talk to each other. (Weren't they supposed to have started as best friends? Did they not talk before? Or was their bond based on collecting American Girl dolls or something?) Oh, Kat! Oh, Lucas! Oh muh gawd, it's about time y'all. In addition, the remaining loose plot threads resolve themselves in the very manner that readers had already figured they would by page 12. Oh, and Kat's dismissive relatives do an about-face and shower her with love, because Jesus, I guess. Whee. NOT recommended.
View all my reviews