Harlequin Escape Publishing
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Every Monday night Emma Stevens mixes up a special cake batter in her cake shop. The local bachelors gather around and one special one is chosen. Then the cake batter will spell out the name of his true love and gives him the courage he needs to approach her. So far Emma’s track record is impeccable – lots of marriages and happy ever afters. No bad endings. It’s tradition in her family and she’s simply the next in line to mix the batter.
Reporter Jason Levine is in Las Vegas when he and his friend find themselves somehow mixed up in a bridal party. This leads to an impulsive invitation to attend the wedding in a chapel being overseen by an Elvis impersonator and the groom spills the beans about the special cake batter. Intrigued, Jason decides to head to Buttermilk Falls himself to see what is really going on in this town and if there’s a story there. If there’s fraud happening here then he will have no qualms exposing it for all of the townspeople.
But when Jason meets Emma, everything changes. She’s interesting and fun and it’s pretty clear that she’s not a fraud at all. But is Jason able to accept the Batter Up part of Emma? And Emma knows Jason has always had an ulterior motive for being in Buttermilk Falls. No matter how much she likes him, she might not be able to forgive him if he writes his story after all.
This is a fun, sweet romance with just a small touch of whimsy. I wasn’t too sure about it at first because I’m not really a believer in magic etc but it’s actually not too large a part of the story. It just serves as the way to bring Emma, who is at least a third generation “witch” and probably at least the third generation presiding over Batter Up night and Jason, a very pragmatic and practical reporter, together.
Not long ago, Emma’s long-term boyfriend said that he needed space and moved away in an attempt to find himself and what he wanted. Emma has never been able to make the batter spell out a name for herself, it doesn’t work that way but she’s always kind of thought that this guy was the one, until he dropped his bombshell. When her cousin gives it a go, to the surprise of both of them, the batter simply spells out the letter ‘J’.
Emma and Jason do not hit it off immediately but there’s a real interest there (although it’s a bit instantaneous) and things get moving when Emma is goaded into beating her high school nemesis bidding for Jason as her ‘Summer Fling’. I absolutely loved the town of Buttermilk Falls, it seems like it would be such a wonderful place to live. There’s Emma’s cake shop, a fabulous cafe (although I’m really not convinced by their obsession with putting blueberries in and on everything, including coffees and hamburgers) and the community events seem like such fun. I love fairs and summer markets and fetes and all of those types of things so I really enjoyed that aspect of the novel. I also liked Emma’s cousin and the way her story played out – she could probably get her own book to take the reader deeper into that, to see it from her point of view. I wouldn’t mind reading that story!
Ultimately this was a fun and quick read, something a little different really but I do prefer my romance to have a bit more depth of feeling to it (and a little bit more description!). This was really light and very sweet, so I think I tend to prefer a bit more angst. I think the conflict was quite good – Jason’s skepticism and also his threatening to expose Emma but I was never truly convinced by the passion. I also think that a better scene between Emma and her ex-boyfriend might have helped resolve the story between them a little bit better. But if you’re looking for something feel-good then this one is a good choice!
Book #156 of 2014