While offering scrumptious recipes, this tale of a baker embracing God’s path to true love lacks a convincing plot.

Patti Cake

A wistful and talented dessert maven hopes to find the Christian man of her dreams in this debut faith-based romance.

Patti Murray is known as “Patti Cake” for her superb cake-decorating skills as well as her delicious recipes. Her home business, Exquisite Cakes, is steadily growing in Santa Rosa, California. She’s content in her professional life, but her personal life is lagging. She wants to marry and start a family but feels strongly about marrying a similarly devoted Christian. Patti often talks to God about what she wants in a mate, and hopes that he can deliver someone appropriate to “capture the spirit of true, unending love.” When Patti is least expecting it, not one but two contenders materialize. She literally runs into Dr. Cal Ripland, a local dentist, in several ill-fated episodes. He’s a quiet man but she feels drawn to him. While he weathered a loss when his wife died, he still manages to hang onto his faith. Jim Callahan storms onto the scene with his outsized, film star personality to buy a cake for his sister’s wedding, and attempts to impress Patti with the trappings of his fame. He’s passionate and handsome, but she questions whether he really possesses the personal character she desires. She’s torn between the two men until meditating on her personal beliefs, and their faith, makes it clear who is the right match. Ingersoll’s decadent descriptions of Patti’s cake and pie recipes and the inclusion of full recipes in the appendix help their sweetness jump off the page with mouthwatering detail. But the dialogue is often stilted. Jim’s character becomes trite, with an unnecessary kidnapping and gun battle right out of a Hollywood film. The clunky, repeated phrase “the actor Jim from the movies” appears too often. The ending then rushes into an implausible resolution. While the tale should appeal to Christian romance fans, general audiences will likely find the frequent, page-long conversations with God too slow-paced.

While offering scrumptious recipes, this tale of a baker embracing God’s path to true love lacks a convincing plot.

Pub Date: April 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9471-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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