Monday, June 8, 2020

Melinda's Review: The Ingredients of You and Me

The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci
Publisher: Gallery Books (April 28, 2020)
Series: Hopeless Romantics, 3
Genre: Contemporary Fiction (M/F)

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “heartwarming and refreshingly sweet” (Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author) On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a sizzling and sweet small-town love story that follows a bakery store owner who decides to take her chances on a truly hopeless romantic.

After selling her successful bakery back in New York, Parker Powell decides to visit her best friend Charlotte in Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. As she acquaints herself with the people in town, she begins to wonder why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls (a.k.a. the senior citizen women who hold court), the response from the town to her sweet treats, and Nick Arthur, the ever-charming local owner of a landscaping business she spent time with during her last visit, Parker finds a community of cheerleaders who encourage her to get her baking mojo back.

At first, everything is great—she collaborates with the Golden Girls to put new twists on traditional confections, and thanks to Nick’s advice, she quickly learns the stark differences between big city and small-town business practices. Although Nick has become her friend and confidant, Parker’s determined to keep things platonic—especially since his girlfriend isn’t a fan of their friendship. But just when things fall into place so they can finally be together, Parker’s dream bakery is threatened by a major corporation who wants to take her down using the very bit of advice that Nick gave her.

With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep the business—and man—she’s come to love before she loses it all.

Perfect for fans of Amy E. Reichert and Jenny Colgan, The Ingredients of You and Me is a scrumptious romantic comedy that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

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Melinda's Review:

Phew, this book was a WILD ride for me. I listened to it via Hoopla, and the narration, done by Marietta DePrima, was excellent and I was drawn in by it immediately.

What worked really well for me was when the author was leaning all the way into the small town aspects of the book. Parker had just sold her successful bakery and was trying to find her new joy so visiting her friend in a small town for a while. The Golden Girls were clearly the stars of the book and the best parts were when Parker was helping them.

What wasn’t working so well for me was how much this book relied on lazy and simplistic plot devices. At the opening of the book we’re aware that Parker, the female MC, and Nick, the male MC, had a secret relationship that ended...for reasons that never make any sense to me. So when Parker comes to the small town where Nick lives and Nick is in a relationship I spent the entire book waiting for one single conversation to resolve their communication issues.

The two literally stop and start this conversation the entire book. I’m talking to about 85%, which left me a level of a frustrated I’m not really used to in romance anymore. I understand miscommunication for sure but this felt like it took it to a whole other level for me. And it wasn’t exactly miscommunication, it was that they just needed to have a full conversation but would keep getting interrupted or brushing each other off while still interacting for like months and months. So. Frustrating!

But I could have gotten past that, maybe, if it weren’t for the heavy-handedness with the use of the evil other woman trope. Nick is dating Jillian the entire book, which is fine, there was no cheating. BUT. From the minute she shows on page it’s apparent she is not a good person and I could see the ending immediately but I was hoping I was wrong.

None of the friends liked her, Jillian monopolizes Nick’s time to the extreme so they had good reasons. I kept waiting for Jillian to be redeemed - for the nuance in her character to show up...and waiting...and waiting. The townspeople literally mock her voice! The narrator simpers when doing her voice, and it’s clear by the text that it’s on purpose. Her redemption never comes and at the end it’s clear she is completely black and white evil other woman. In 2020 I am just not here for this plot device. Give me messy and complicated! Give me Jillian’s reason for being a villain! Give her some shades of gray! I hated this part of the story so much that I couldn’t get over anything else that I loved.

Overall the romance was a tiny part of this book and because of that I would not classify this as romance - even though there was an HEA. At the end I was super pissy and I would not recommend.


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Source: Borrowed (library system)

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Thanks for the review, Melinda! 


Until Next Time,

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