***This is a review of an upcoming release. This title is scheduled to be released on May 3, 2022.***
Look at that cover, y’all. Doesn’t it just scream “I am a light buttercream confection?”
Well, just like The GUNCLE, this more than a little misleading.
Amy, a semicloseted queer baker and bartender in mid-2010s Oklahoma, has spent a lifetime putting other people’s needs before her own. Until, that is, she hits it off with Charley, a brilliant, attractive engineer who’s just moved to Tulsa. Suddenly, Amy’s found something—someone—she actually wants. Her tight-knit group of chosen family is thrilled she’s finally moving on from her ex. Mostly, though, they want Amy to find a way to show up for love—and life—as her authentic self.
But when a one-off gig subbing in for a bridesmaid turns into a full-time business—thanks to Amy’s baking talents, crafting skills, and years watching rom-coms and Say Yes to the Dress—her deep desire to please kicks into overdrive, at her own expense. It’s not until Amy’s precarious balancing act strains her relationships to the breaking point that she must decide what it looks like to be true to herself—and if she has the courage to try.
The first thing that I was curious about was why this book was set so far in the past. A decade ago? Seemed like an odd choice. I wondered if it was written then, and just now getting published? But, no, setting the book in the mid 2010s was a choice. And that choice, the choice to set the book in a slightly less kind timeframe for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, informed everything I didn’t like about this book.
So, Amy is a queer baker working in a Christian bakery. Her boss is deeply homophobic, so Amy remains well-secured in the closet. One day as she is closing up, Charley walks in looking for a cupcake. She finds Amy, and they hit it off immediately.
And then they don’t. After a perfect date, they don’t go out again for…a couple weeks. And then they have a pretty perfect second date…and they don’t go out again for weeks. And then they have a pretty perfect third date…and you see where this is going.
This was a relationship that had zero momentum. They seemed to start from scratch every couple of weeks. After the second date, I just didn’t care if they got together, and I didn’t believe it when they did. This was a couple with a casual connection at best, so their HEA rang seriously false for me.
Which brings me to the central problem with this book. It was joyless.
Now, that does not mean that it was a bad book. If you are looking for a light novel that ruminates on the consequences of deeply-ingrained queer-phobia in the deep south in the early 21st Century, this might be your book. If you want to read about toxic patriarchy in the wedding industry, well, ditto.
But if you are looking for the gorgeous confection advertised by that cover, well, this ain’t it. And if you want a love story that feels inevitable, if you want to fall in love with these characters as they fall in love with each other, well…this ain’t that, either.
Two stars because it’s well-written, and the author has a clear point of view. But this is not a Romantic Comedy. Buyer beware.