I was drawn to this book by the eye-catching cover and sweet sounding summary, thinking it would be an interesting contemporary romance. There was also the added incentive that at the time it was a kindle freebie of course.
The book finds diabetic pastry chef Emma recruited to work for the newly refurbished Tanglewood Hotel, under the steely eye of hotel owner Jackson. Jackson opened the hotel in homage to his late wife- it was her dream to refurbish the place and he is determined to honour his promise to her. Sparks are soon flying between them but Emma has enough problems of her own, namely her feuding parents and the emergence of her former boyfriend- one of the first grooms whose wedding cake she is all set to design.
As I've said, I picked this up expecting a sweet romance but I personally found it a bit dull and also a bit inconsistent. I'm not a doctor by any means, but I found the way that diabetes was depicted in this story to be a bit laissez faire when I think about it. I was initially drawn to this book on the premise that the baker in the story was diabetic and wondered how that would impact on her life and career if she could barely taste her own creations. How would she cope? Type 1 diabetes is the most severe form of the illness which can have a really detrimental impact on the person who has it, yet Emma seemed to get by fairly ok with just a few shots of insulin. There was no thorough mention of the symptoms and side effects that diabetes can cause as well as its effects on the sufferer, which would have been a real opportunity for the author to highlight awareness of the illness, yet she just didn't run with it enough and seemed to concentrate more on the romance aspects, when the illness itself had been particularly highlighted in the books summary.
A few other quibbles I had with this book was that the author seems to *really* like to emphasise some of the characters Southern ways of speaking particular words, which grew a bit tiresome after a while (sistah, bruthah, he-ya etc). We know they're in Atlanta, so this isn't really necessary to be honest and it comes across as a bit twee. Also, like the other reviewers have commented upon, I feel the Christian overtones got a bit annoying and sanctimonious on occaision- it would have been nice to miss those out entirely, but maybe that's just down to personal preference- and I am an atheist anyway. I just didn't feel that the constant praying was really needed.
In saying a few positive things about the novel as it wasn't all that bad, I did enjoy the fact that it contained recipes that tied in nicely with the story- and some of the descriptions of food did make me feel a bit hungry too, particularly the descriptions of the wedding cakes. The character development was also fairly solid for the most part, particularly with sweet Aunt Sophie, and Emma did sound like a dependable, caring person who I could emphasise with as a reader; unfortunately I just didn't care enough about either her or Jackson to see this entire story as anything more than a fairly bland romance.
Thankfully I managed to download this book whilst it was still free, which I'm so glad about. I personally wouldn't pay the asking price for this novel at the moment- it's a good, cutesy -though not exactly spectacular, read, ruined by the religious overtones which is why I have deducted so many stars. I doubt I would read anything else by this author again in future- even if it was free.