In this frothy, food-filled contemporary romance by Inclán (The Beautiful Being, 2012, etc.), the way to the heart is indeed through the stomach.
Desperate for a new direction in life, 27-year-old Becca Muchmore abruptly quits grad school and starts a baking business in San Francisco. This venture introduces her to a circle of customers who become potential friends, lovers and enemies. In particular, she develops an instant crush on preppy lawyer Jeff and encounters opposition from Jennifer, his beautiful but nasty lawyer girlfriend. Fortunately, Becca’s baking skills are so astonishing that everyone clamors for more. She hires her sexy neighbor Sal as her assistant, relying on his charm, good humor and uncanny ability to find parking to expand her business. At the same time, she chases Jeff and spies on Jennifer in an effort to win the love she assumes she wants. In an effort to address deeper issues, Inclán uses a single coincidence as a major theme: Sweet Becca is apparently the spitting image of mean Jennifer. However, this quirk is only intermittently thought noticeable or significant by most characters and in the end seems an unnecessary gimmick. The stock characters—including the boy next door, the perky secretary and the critical mother—break no new ground. It’s clear to the reader from the outset who belongs with whom, and getting to the happy ending requires tolerance for the cast’s unsurprising foibles. However, for readers desiring a more immersive experience, the book does include recipes for each treat mentioned in the story.
There's little to distinguish this novel, but it hits nearly all the notes it aims for, and there's a tidy ending for those looking for a comfort read.