Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Romantic Comedy Review: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (Winner Bakes All #1) by Alexis Hall
Published: May 18th, 2021

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Romantic Comedy/LGBTQ+

Heat rating: 🔥🔥

# of pages: 448 

My rating: 3.5 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

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Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way...and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

It’s no secret Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material was one of my top favourite books of 2020. Because of that, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake was one of my most anticipated books of 2021, and I was extra excited that one of my favourite publishers, Forever, was publishing it. After reading this book, I have so many thoughts and feelings. So many. I will say it started and ended great - I was laughing within the first few pages and I was cheering for Rosaline in the end - but the whole rest of it was a bit of a roller coaster for me.

My main issue with this book was how preachy it felt. Within the first 20%, there were three instances where Rosaline was super preachy, and it continued on throughout the book. I’m here for inclusivity and calling out injustices and wrong assumptions, but the fact so many scenes turned into ‘teachable moments’ where Rosaline climbed up on her soapbox and told people they were wrong and why, it got to be a bit much. All of that was paired with the fact it seemed like nobody in the entire book had ever known someone who’d had a baby at 19 and made a huge deal over the fact Rosaline did. Maybe it’s because I know so many people who had babies in their late teens and early twenties so it’s not a big deal to me, but it was a massive deal to literally everyone in the entire book when they found out. Plus it really irked me that someone Rosaline barely knew - a love interest, no less - asked her why she hadn’t had an abortion. Who asks that of someone they just met?!

I got to a point where I rolled my eyes when a conversation was heading a certain way or someone said something even remotely offensive because I knew Rosaline would dust off the ol’ soapbox and we’d get another lesson. On the one hand, I appreciate that these things were included in an overall lighthearted, fun book, but I think a sprinkling would have worked better than having it dumped in repeatedly. The whole preachy aspect was made even..funnier? Stranger?...by the fact Rosaline herself was incredibly judgemental and often made snap judgments about people the moment they opened their mouths.

I’m also not 100% sure how I feel about the romance(s); Alain quickly revealed himself to be a jerk, yet Rosaline seemed determined to make things work with him because he was everything she thought she should want. I kept wondering at what point the red flags from Alain would smack her on the head and knock some sense into her. Harry was sweet, swoony, and very different from the typical love interest, which I loved. I enjoyed his interactions with Rosaline, but I would have loved to see more of the focus on him and not the guy who turned out to be a completely irredeemable scumbag. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles to begin with and this one fell flat for me because of how obviously wrong one of the guys was for her, plus a general lack of chemistry.

Okay, now that all that’s off my chest, I’ll move into the positive. As with Boyfriend Material, this book had me giggling so much. I love Hall’s wit and humour; the way he writes inner dialogue and banter is genius. Despite my issues with Rosaline’s preachiness, I did like her and connect with her, and I genuinely ended up rooting for her and wanting her to succeed. She reminded me of Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls in a way; despite having rich parents who put a lot of pressure on her, she wanted to forge her own path, raise her daughter on her terms, and find a sustainable (and enjoyable) way to support herself. I enjoyed watching her figure out what mattered to her, and felt like her stumbles along the way were realistic. Even when the things she did made me shake my head or roll my eyes, I still appreciated that more than a perfect, unrealistic character. And even though she came across as preachy, I appreciated how she learned to stand up for herself. 

Overall, despite my issues with Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, I did enjoy it. I was fully invested in Rosaline’s story and felt like she was a friend I was cheering on from the sidelines. This is apparently the first of three books in the Winner Bakes All series, and I’ll be curious to see what Hall has in store for us next.

Read my review of Boyfriend Material

Have you read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake? Have you ever thought about trying out for a cooking show or any other reality show?

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