The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert (Women’s Contemporary Fiction)
I chose to purchase this novel because it’s set in Milwaukee, a city not often featured in fiction. Since I was born and raised in Milwaukee, I wanted to know how the city was portrayed. I’m also a retired food writer, and this is a book involving a chef and her restaurant. Not to mention the appealing cover and interesting title.
I enjoyed the food, the recipes, and the wonderful descriptions that took me “home” to the city of my childhood, the place I still love to visit because it truly can be as much fun as this book suggests. I could taste the calamari at Festa Italiana and hear the squeak of a good cheese curd.
But I can’t say the same about the love story that this book tells. For one thing, I never learned to care about Lou, the female protagonist who makes a mean coconut cake and owns a struggling French restaurant. She is a perpetual victim with no backbone who panders to her scumbag fiance, Devlin. I did finally warm to Al, the British guy who hates Milwaukee but stays to write mean-spirited restaurant reviews for a local paper, including a scathing review of Lou’s place. However, I never did figure out what’s keeping this bitter Eton graduate in Brew City before he meets Lou.
The love story itself was predictable and sometimes tedious, with a bit of unbelievable thrown in. Maybe some people swoon at first sight, but Al was enough of a cynic, I found it hard to accept that he could be that obsessed with Lou from moment one. Considering their mutual — albeit unspoken — attraction, the passage of sometimes multiple weeks between their “non-dates” was also difficult to comprehend, as was their mutual ability to never mention what they did for a living. In short, it wasn’t really a question of reading to find out what would happen between them, but rather how long it would take.
The writing is okay, and the book isn’t terrible. On the contrary, a lot of folks seem to love it. I just wanted a little more substance and a little less coincidence, I guess.
Grandma gives The Coincidence of Coconut Cake three stars.