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Publisher's Summary

Fans of Casey McQuiston, Christina Lauren, and Abby Jimenez will love this scrumptious and sweet romantic comedy from the "dizzyingly talented writer" of Boyfriend Material (Entertainment Weekly)

LGBTQ Reads: Most Anticipated Adult LGBTQAP Fiction 2021

We Are Bookish: Spring Releases to Have on Your Radar

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Alexis Hall (P)2021 Forever

Critic Reviews

"Alexis Hall is the undisputed master of romantic comedy." (Jenny Holiday, USA Today best-selling author)

"Hall does it again with this scrumptious, quietly subversive rom-com again.... Hilarious, heartwarming, and grounded, Rosaline's story proves that happy endings look different from person to person." (Publishers Weekly)

"Hall is a dizzyingly talented writer, one likely to spur envy in anyone who's ever picked up a pen." (Entertainment Weekly)

What listeners say about Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Unfortunately more Women’s Fic than Romance

I think a lot of my enjoyment surrounding this book can be tied directly to the fact that I ADORE baking competition shows. Specifically, the one this book’s Bake Expectations is modeled after - The Great British Bake Off, abbreviated GBBO, or annoyingly known in America as The Great British Baking Show because of trademarks or whatever. It’s less sabotage and underhandedness than most baking shows and I just find that pleasant. I mean, the book calls us out on this one and I can’t fault it. Because it’s true.

This book has significantly less romance than I would expect and wouldn’t necessarily be what I would call a Romance book, with a capital R. It probably falls in line with Women’s Fiction, which I typically avoid, but seeing this is by Alexis Hall and I LOVED Boyfriend Material, I winded up reading this anyways. This story is more about Rosaline’s journey through the show and discovering herself than hitting any familiar romance beats even though the hero is quite lovely and this does ultimately end with a HEA.

It helps knowing going into this book who the endgame romantic partner is going to be and knowing it isn’t really a Romance so you can adjust your expectations accordingly. Although this story has a love triangle in it, I think the blurb gives enough of a hint that Alain is trash. Oh, sorry. Is that a spoiler? Oh well. I hate him.

Trigger warnings from the author’s website because it’s detailed enough: sexual content (on page but not graphic), classism, emotionally distant / emotionally unsupportive parents, discussion of a teenage pregnancy (which happened in the past), brief mention of Rosaline considering an abortion (she kept the baby), casual biphobia, casual homophobia, unwanted sexual advances / threat of sexual assault, gaslighting, an attempt at blackmail (doesn’t go anywhere), mild violence (one character throws a punch), very graphic swearing and insults from one particular character that continues all through the book.

Rosaline Palmer is 27, bisexual, and has an 8-year-old daughter named Amelie. Rosaline is a single mom who is doing the best she can to raise her daughter. She works at a stationary shop and enjoys baking. She hopes that being on Bake Expectations and, hopefully, winning will give her a step up in life. Rosaline doesn’t have grand plans if she DOES win, but really just hopes for an extra oomph to enrich her life. Her best friend, Lauren, is an ex and they get on really well, much to the dismay of Rosaline’s parents. Rosaline’s parents are well off and acclaimed in their medical fields, but are awful parents.

I don’t really know how to review this book. It’s delightfully queer but not a romance at all, even if there are romantic interests in the story. There’s a wide cast of characters just from the fact that it’s a reality television show, and you have many contestants, the host, the judges, and the production crew just to name a few.

But out of all this, Rosaline winds up with the misfortune of meeting Alain first. And falls in lust with him. He’s appropriately a man with a career her parents would approve of and he comes across as competent when it comes to baking. He does wind up on the show after all, so it’s not like he could be a terrible baker off the bat. I knew ahead of time from a lot of friends that Alain is awful, and I think he definitely comes across that way from the very first moment we meet him. I don’t know if this is aided by the fact that I listened to this book on audiobook shortly after I had attempted to start this book by text, but Fiona Hardingham, the narrator, gives him the type of voice that makes you very much want to punch him in the face.

I adore this book for being inspired by GBBO, but if it had turned into an adaptation of a BBC drama with a murder in a countryside town on a lavish estate because a contestant deservedly murdered Alain and it turns out everyone helped to cover it up?? I would not have been opposed.

But alas. We see way too much of Alain and all the reasons why Rosaline feels like she should be with him, and not Harry. Harry is actually in this book a lot once the story gets going and Rosaline gets over herself, but it’s not enough, you know?

Harry is a Cockney boy and an electrician in the family business. He doesn’t come across as sophisticated as Alain, and because on her own upbringing, Rosaline is quite prejudiced against Harry from the start. Anvita (another contestant and later, Rosaline’s friend) describes Harry as a hottie and while correct, that’s not all to Harry. He’s very sweet and kind and awkward and I love him to pieces!! The only downside to Harry, and I agree with Ricky (another contestant) here, is that Harry is a Spurs fan. The author says it’s purely a coincidence that he is named Harry when the Spurs’ most famous player is Harry Kane. But really, that’s my only strike against him if I truly HAD to find one. Harry, the character, is lovely, quiet, and anxious, and I dearly wished Rosaline had been with him from the start instead of having to work out all her feelings with Alain.

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD***

I would’ve been content with Alain as a villain on the side rather than a prominent love interest that takes until around the 76% mark (and sexual assault!) to resolve. The sexual assault is initiated by Alain to try to push Rosaline to have sex with his maybe bicurious and drunk ex-girlfriend is gross, unnerving, and I don’t think the scene needed to be the breaking point where Rosaline finally realizes he’s simply a TERRIBLE person. Alain was already awful before then. He’s a narcissist and gaslights Rosaline at every opportunity. He sulked when he did mediocre in a challenge and avoided Rosaline when she came at the top of a bake. Which is just some examples of minor, quiet things he did compared to all the things he says OUT LOUD.

I think it’s interesting (and okay, also disappointing) that Rosaline has so many sex scenes with Alain and yet only the one with Harry before the book ends. There is a difference with the way the scenes are described - like less detailed and tepid with Alain, and much more drawn out and fun with Harry. But I think my overall feelings in regards to this is that the relationship with Alain unfortunately takes up a majority of the book. Something worth noting, I think, is that Rosaline’s daughter never once meets Alain and does meet Harry a time or two in this book and you can see the clear contrast between the two men and how they are around Rosaline and any mentions of her daughter. Alain avoids mentioning Amelie in any way and described her as more of a burden keeping Rosaline from a life could’ve had. Meanwhile, Harry knows to crouch down to eye level to talk to Amelie and actually takes the time to listen and talk to her.

I haven’t even really mentioned Rosaline’s parents. But I didn’t like that the story tried to give them a chance to make things right with Rosaline. It would’ve been more enjoyable I think if they just…disappeared. Got written out? Rosaline’s relationship with her parents and, I don’t know, her whole story leading up to the competition honestly feels a little too Gilmore Girls for me. And not in a good way.

***END OF SPOILERS***

I know this is the first in a series of at least 3 books and I honestly can’t wait to return so we see more of Jennifer and Colin. Somehow I’ve come to really like them?? Jennifer is the show’s producer and Colin is her assistant. Jennifer comes across as quite harsh at the beginning and I think it’s because we first meet her through Rosaline’s eyes when Rosaline was still a bit shy and not looking to pick any fights. But as we progress with Rosaline’s journey, we see that maybe Jennifer isn’t all THAT terrible? I think her swearing all the time is hilarious, and the way she doesn’t put up with Alain’s lies after THAT moment in the book is icing on the cake. The, I want to say Scottish, accent in the audiobook for Jennifer seems very fitting and I love it. Colin gets the brunt of Jennifer’s yelling but he’s also very lovely and obviously not paid enough to put up with these contestants AND Jennifer. I just can’t wait to see him again in the next book as well.

I’m not sure I would’ve finished the book without listening to the audiobook, to be honest. I’ve listened to Fiona Hardingham a few times for YA books and like her with those narrations, but I LOVE her here. She had distinct voices and accents for the characters. It’s been pretty wild to learn how to properly say the name Rosaline the British way (vs an American one), and the name St. John is not all at what I thought. I did slow down the audiobook narration because of all the accents but I usually listen at a horrendous 2x or higher, so it was interesting having to slow the narration down to a 1.3x to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The audiobook also comes with a PDF of some of the recipes I want to try to bake, and a discussion guide, which I found interesting.

Overall, I really liked Rosaline and her daughter! I loved a number of the other contestants, but especially Harry. Alain gets the subscriber count he deserves (aka not enough to monetize). This book would have been much more enjoyable without a love triangle with Alain of all people. I am not opposed to love triangles, I am just opposed to men like Alain and the fact that he took up way too much of the book. I really enjoyed the baking parts of the story and it definitely got me thinking about what might be happening behind the scenes on episodes of GBBO. Well, maybe not the Channel 4 episodes, but the original BBC ones for sure. I’m very much looking forward to book 2 and finding out who Paris Daillencourt is!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Laugh Out Loud Funny

This book made me laugh so hard. I enjoyed the story and I’m obsessed with cooking shows so it was perfect.

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So funny!

Thoroughly enjoyed this. If you have ever watched The Great British Bake Off even a single episode, you’ll recognize the truth in this.

Fast-paced, witty dialogue, and an engaging story had me laughing aloud, and the reader was excellent.

Definite new fave. I’ll be listening again.

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Cute and fun

I loved Boyfriend Material, so I was excited to hear another Alexis Hall book. Loved this one too. I really enjoyed Fiona Hardingham's narration.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Alexis Hall - this one is alright!

I really, really loved Alexis Hall's other book, Boyfriend Material (yes, I know he's written more books, but these 2 are the most well-known). I had seen mixed reviews for this one when it came out. I completely understand and agree with the mixed reviews.

This book had highs and lows of good and less good. I wouldn't say any part was bad, but it definitely did have some incredibly good high parts. The major conflict portion should come with a trigger warning for assault - I admit, I didn't check if it did, since I don't really get too set off by most triggers, and this one didn't go too far or get too triggering, but I don't think it was handled very well... being basically brushed off, truly like it seems to be in reality (perhaps the intent was to show how it's treated in real life??). That's my only thing to point out and mention if anyone is reading this!

So - Rosaline is not completely satisfied in her life and joins a televised baking show, much like The Great British Bake-Off (or whatever the proper show title is, sorry I don't watch so I'm not sure!), and on the way, she meets another contestant, Alain. They strike up a friendship that becomes a romance. She is a bisexual woman which he seems fascinated with and doesn't stop asking about or pointing out that she has twice the number of potential partners (and assumes she has slept with a whole lot of people due to choice). He also pushes her decision about returning to school, which she left as a young, pregnant woman and hasn't returned, being a single mother. He continues to be quite an ass throughout the book, and eventually he introduces Rosaline to his ex-girlfriend and there is a power/friendship struggle between the ladies that leads to the aforementioned assault, and the downfall of the relationship. At least Rosaline still has the other excellent friendships she has formed from the show and can lean on them! But will she be able to get beyond this and finish the show, and carry on with life and be happy?

This book is definitely as well-written as Boyfriend Material, but the subject wasn't nearly as interesting and the characters were not as lovable as Luc and Oliver, and the relationships formed in this story weren't quite as strong and you don't get quite as invested. Yes, it was a good story, but I give it 3-3.5 stars, while Boyfriend Material was absolutely a stellar 5-star read!

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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastically narrated avatar of the Great British Baking Show

Truffled with laugh-out-loud moments, and seasoned with delightful characters, including pitch-perfect versions of the judges, this delicious confection is fully brought to life by the versatile Fiona Hardingham. Alexis Hall gives us an idylically located love story in which the bisexual heroine--a single mum with overachieving parents and a dead-end job--has to overcome her ingrained insecurities and inadvertent snobbery before she recognizes that the televised contest is offering her real options for remodeling her life. Attractive but out of practice in the romance department, she gets a bumpy emotional ride before she finds the way to her HEA. It's a very gay-friendly hetero romance. Real recipes are included in a companion PDF!

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Loved it

I loved it! I felt like I was really on the journey with Rosaline! I wanted more!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • s
  • 06-02-21

I Adore Alexis Hall

I have read four of this authors books and I have enjoyed them all. This one had some wonderful secondary characters and had the Witt I love in these books. The narrator was nice and upbeat and it worked. If this would have been the 9nly Alexis Hall book I have read I may have liked it more but it is still lovely storytelling.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too Much of One Act

Audiobook narrator was excellent.
Book dragged in the middle, I feel like a large section of the middle part could have been removed and if the last act had been longer it would have added more suspense and interest. But I loved the characters and the setting, and the conflict between Rosaline and her parents was relatable. Romance readers be aware this is more women's fiction than romance, though there is a HEA/HFN.
Spoiler: way too much Alain, not enough Harry. Bisexual MC, CW for sexual assault.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Full of heart and charm!

This book is a burst of sunshine and sweetness, but not in a way that comes across as over the top. It really is a Love letter to delicious desserts, self love, and strength of character.