East End Boys and London Girls

Until I started reading Alexis Hall, I never knew it was possible to utterly dislike the main character in the beginning of the story yet end up utterly invested that this person gets to have a happy life. Yet that exactly what happened in Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.

This is the second time this has happened to me. I’m beginning to think this is Alexis’ M.O., create a character that has so much wrong with them that the reader isn’t invested and then create a scenario where the reader finds themselves rooting for the main character to get their happy ending by any means necessary.  It happened in Boyfriend Material where I wasn’t fond of Luc in the beginning, but I ended up adoring his uptight “fake” boyfriend Oliver. And yes, it happens again.

Rosaline Palmer is a 27-year-old single mother of a precocious daughter named Amelie.  Both parents are well known and well-respected physicians in their fields and Rosaline dropped out of medical school when she got pregnant and now works in a shop and raises her daughter.  Her best friend/now married ex-girlfriend Lauren helps take care of Amelie. By fate, Rosaline finds herself on the popular British baking show, Bake Expectations. On her way there, Rosaline meets up with fellow contestant Alain Pope, a landscape architect and they hit it off immediately.

About the Show - The Great British Bake Off | The Great British Bake Off
It’s always about the cake.

I’m not going to lie, I hated Alain by Chapter 2 and Rosaline wasn’t my favorite person either. By chapter 4 I was wondering why I was even reading this anymore, none of the characters were even sympathetic. Except maybe Amelie, because I can utterly relate to a child who finds a topic and runs full tilt into the middle of it.

 But then I met Alveda who is a spitfire of a friend and funny to boot.  And then, I was introduced to Harry Dobson. East End guy who’s the son of an electrician, spends his time at the pub with his mates, drinks beer, watches football (that’s soccer for the Americans reading this) and is the sweetest guy in this book.  I alternated in telling him to run, yelling at Rosaline for being classist AF, and threatening to push Rosaline out of the way for my own chance at Harry. Why are there not guys like Harry? He’s utterly perfect and I hate that he’s fictional.  Through Harry’s friendship, Rosaline finally has her character redemption and grows as a person that I ended up rooting for.

The best bars and pubs in East London | Telegraph Travel
All Harry wants in life is a pint and his favorite team.

A thing I loved about this book was how Rosaline’s bisexuality is addressed. It’s part of her. Her daughter knows and understands that Mommy likes boys and girls, that Auntie Lauren and Mommy used to date until they didn’t. Rosaline is very no-nonsense about her sexuality, and I appreciate it.  She’s still bisexual when she’s dating women and she still bisexual when she’s dating men. Where Annie’s (Hang the Moon) bisexuality was mentioned in passing, Roseline’s is out there for everyone to see and for no one to contradict her. 

I hate how much I love Alexis Hall’s stories. The self-deprecating, poor little rich kid that grows as a person and you end up liking and rooting for is not a trope that I thought I’d ever go for but here we are.  And also, Alexis, if you’re reading this, how the hell do I get a Harry in my life?

Bonus extra? This book comes with a PDF file of recipes made in the book so I can go all Bake Expectations in my own kitchen! My rosemary will just be store bought instead of picked from my personal garden.

Rosemary and thyme

I didn’t mean for this to be a cooking themed month, it just happened.  My next review will be another queer cooking show romance titled Love and other Disasters by Anita Kelly. Join me for that review in two weeks.  Until then, may your Victoria sponge be light, grab a blanket, your favorite drink and a good book.

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