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ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by Alexis Hall – double review!

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.

Title : Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Forever/Piatkus
Release Date : May 18, 2021/August 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely had warmer feelings about this story overall than I did about my last few Hall reads but unfortunately most of those warmer feelings kind of depleted over the course of the story. Not because of the events as much as because of certain characters.

When this story focused on some of the secondary cast, specifically Lauren, Harry, and Anvita, it was a great bantery blissful time. When we were in the bake-off segments with the ensemble in addition to all the filming hijinks? Delight. When we were dealing with Alain, or sometimes Rosaline herself? Ugh.

I don’t really want to reveal who Rosaline ends up with, especially for those #TeamNoBlurbers who won’t read the summary, or for those who might not infer from the synopsis how it all goes down, but. I’m very happy with the end result. It was just quite the journey to get there. And I’m not quite sure Rosaline deserved him, full stop, but also because the way things just fall into place is well.. convenient. For her.

Notably, another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about this story, was that it falls into a common and recent trend of feeling like a very “teachy” kind of book. Lots of discourse about gender stereotypes, important dialogue about biphobia, classism, and more, but not only does it handle that.. it also sorta beats you over the head with it. Both in how it’s challenged but also the frequency. Lumped into this were the circumstances of Rosaline’s life, her daughter, and so many horses died in the telling and overtelling of that plotpoint. But what made it worse was how inconsistent, and flipfloppy, even Rosaline told it.

Overall Rosaline was just a very flawed character, which is fine, I just wish maybe it had been showcased differently? For all that Alain was a dick, I understood his reasons (except for that one part; that one part is completely not understandable). I didn’t understand when Rosaline was also a dick (but I think maybe one specific area I couldn’t get was very British-specific in regards to classism that I just don’t think we have in my part of the world; at least not in this way). I didn’t understand her appeal. She had great friends but.. I don’t think she, herself, was always a good friend. We see everyone constantly stepping up for her and rarely does she return the favour. I realize this is her story, not anyone else’s, but it feels unbalanced, in a way.

There’s definitely a lot to recommend within the pages of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake. I think a lot of people will like this. It is definitely an easier, more mainstream read, than Boyfriend Material (which I realize I’m biased against, so, I mean, grain of salt). But I can also see people who loved that book also loving this. Mostly I’m just happy that my experience with the other might have been an outlier because for all that this wasn’t a win, it wasn’t quite a fail, either. In the century that is 2020-2021, we take what we can get.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars

Brit Bake Off vibes
Banter for days
Charmed to the hilt

If I could describe my reading experience of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake in one word, I would say charming. The characters were just simply a delight to sink into. They were messy, flawed but they were also incredibly endearing and a bucket load of funny.

I’m 100% a ‘Bake Off’ fan so this reimagining of a British TV Show in a similar vein was always going to speak to my fandom and it delivered completely. I loved the baking scenes in the competition alongside the behind-the-scenes elements. I grew to love Rosaline as a character, to cheer for her crawl out from the weighty expectations of her parents and she was doing a great job of the mother-juggle. Her bi-sexuality was such an issue for some people and this book really explored other people’s perceptions, expectations and some rather hideous elements to that.

“It’s me. I’ve done it. I’ve made a penis. I’ve made an enormous bread penis. Someone always makes a penis. And this year it’s me who made the penis.”

The two guys of the piece, Alain and Harry really altered my allegiances and expectations along the way. A lot of what happened with them was unexpected in the main and I loved how that story played out. Amelie, Rosaline’s daughter was a super-intelligent and outspoken eight year old but I did enjoy her character.

This book bantered me from front to back, I highlighted so much that it would take an essay to share them all but you won’t be disappointed at the dialogue and Rosaline’s inner monologue. As with all Alexis Hall’s offerings, everything about this book was quintessentially British and I love his style of bringing different British types of characters, accents and speech to the page.

And Rosaline tried very hard to keep her face ungifable.

I’m pretty enamoured with this book and I can see myself returning for a re-read. This story is definitely on my contemporary 2021 favourites line-up.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.

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