Always the Baker Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Emma Rae Creation # 1
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Number of pages: 288 pages
My copy: ebook ARC from Netgalley
They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But who would want a cake they couldn’t eat?
Just ask Emma Rae Travis about that. She’s a baker of confections who is diabetic and can’t enjoy them. When Emma meets Jackson Drake, the escapee from Corporate America who is starting a wedding destination hotel to fulfill a dream that belonged to someone else, this twosome and their crazy family ties bring new meaning to the term “family circus.” The Atlanta social scene will never be the same!
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It’s kind of funny that the next NetGalley ARC I read is another book that has recipes and other cooking tips in them, but this time, the characters are way older than Ariel, M and Nicki from The Crepemakers’ Bond were. I guess it’s fate, or maybe even divine, as far as books go, because reading them almost consecutively gives me an idea on how different YA/MG chick lit is to adult chick lit.
You know another funny thing? There seemed to be a lot of Christian chick lit that is set in the South. Atlanta, specifically. Maybe it’s because there are more writers from that area? Or is it because it’s just a charming place to set a story in, because in this book, I am charmed. :)
Emma Rae Travis is an award-winning contradiction — she’s the best baker in town, but she’s also diabetic, so she isn’t allowed to eat more than three bites of her baked confections. But the real point of the story isn’t her diabetes, but her baked goods and how it helped her meet Jackson Drake, owner of the new Tanglewood Hotel. Pretty soon, Emma is a part of the hotel staff and with Jackson’s crazy and efficient sisters, her semi-goth best friend Fiona and her separated parents…well, it’s a circus, alright.
I love myself a good chick lit, obviously, as it’s the genre I really started loving in the first place. I found that I hardly get to read much chick lit though, because there doesn’t seem to be many quality chick lit out there. It’s easy for chick lit to be stereotyped because it seems like there’s only one story line for all books like that. I beg to differ, though, because there’s a plethora of stories that can be written under that genre. You don’t need a fashionista girl with a gay best friend living in a busy city working as a writer promoting weight loss pills and looking for Mr. Right for a book to be chick lit!
This is why I liked Always the Baker, Never the Bride because it doesn’t fall under the usual chick lit stereotype. Sure, the leading man is handsome, and sure there’s a crazy family, but I liked that Emma is her own person, and she’s not a fashion slave. Emma is a bright and strong protagonist, one that I can’t help but get attached to as I read the book. The best thing I loved about Emma? She’s a baker! I bake, too, so that is definitely something I can relate to, but I am sure I won’t be as good as her because my cakes tend to fall apart before I can even get them out of the oven. :P
The Christian aspect of this novel is well written, too, and I liked how it wasn’t preachy. Prayer was subtly incorporated, and Jackson’s grief and fears were real for a guy his age and with his experience. Emma’s religious conflict, though, felt a bit blurry. By blurry, I wasn’t sure why she was having the conflict in the first place — maybe I missed it in the first few pages? I wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t grow up in that environment or she lost it along the way, so her religious transformation didn’t leave a mark in me as much as I wanted it to. I do like the romantic dynamics explained in this novel, though, especially the concept of After Care. Ever wondered why some guys act so sweet and do something special and then disappear afterwards (and it drives us crazy that we over think so much)? That is after care. :P I’d leave you to read the book to understand what it is, but if you’re really curious, I may just explain it off the review. :P
This is a cute and fluffy read, and the romance was nice and well-developed, too. However, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the end. I was waiting for a big “oomph”, a big conflict that would wreak havoc with Emma and Jackson and everything they worked for, but I felt like it never came. I also felt that Emma’s diabetes wasn’t properly spotlighted, but maybe that wasn’t really the point of the story, so I could let that go. I just didn’t find the game-changing (and sometimes tears-inducing) climax that I found in the other Christian chick lit books I read this year in this one, so that part just kind of made this just okay. It wasn’t bad, I wasn’t disappointed, but I felt that it needed a bit more to make it more memorable.