The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
by Amy E. Reichert
Expected Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
YOU’VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.
In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.
Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.
The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?
Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.
See that comparison to You’ve Got Mail up there in the description? I know sometimes readers hate comparison marketing(I am often one of them), but in this case it’s spot-on. Lou is a chef with her own restraunt, Luella’s, and Al is food critic who just so happens to go into Luella’s on one of the most “off” days of Lou’s life, and his review eviscerates her cooking. Then, of course, they meet, but since Al writes under a pen name and Lou’s a nickname for Elizabeth they don’t recognize each other by their careers.
Enter shenanigans, stage right.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a fun and mostly light-heart romance. There are some serious parts, particularly with all the secrecy, but a good chunk of the book is spent watching Al and Lou fall in love, and I absolutely loved their relationship. Al might be grumpy on the surface about having to live in a place he doesn’t think has anything going for it, but Lou shows him both the area and the potential. Their easy camaraderie made me smile, and I loved they both had a passion for food.
Which, by the way, leads to some absolutely delectable description of beautiful meals. The titular coconut cake is just the start of it. Do not read while hungry, seriously. One of my favorite things while reading is characters who are really passionate about something, so The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was a home run there. I always enjoy reading descriptions of characters who are completely in their element, so the cooking scenes in this were a delight, even the bittersweet ones.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is one of those books were the setting becomes a second character. I’ve never really given much thought to Milwaukee before, but by the end of this book I wanted to go there(maybe not during heavy snow season, though). Lou and Al visit so many great places in the book and everything just zazzled.
I also loved so many of the secondary characters in this book. There’s a cute elderly couple that regularly goes to Luella’s and strikes up a friendship with Lou, Lou’s two best friends who both work with her and have been dancing around each other because they like each other but don’t do anything, and a guy who works at the newspaper with Al. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was one of those books that made me want companion novels about each of those side characters.
All in all, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was a pleasant read. I’m not sure if I would give the whole thing a re-read, but it’s the kind of book I might turn to on a bad day and re-read some of the sweeter parts. It’s not a new favorite, but it was as nice and comforting as a large bowl of homemade ice cream.
I really enjoyed The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. It definitely had a You’ve Got Mail vibe with a chef and a food critic, and I loved all the descriptions of food and local hangouts. 4/5 cupcakes.