Life for self-confessed bookworm Jayne Brady couldn’t be better – she has a twin sister she adores, a cosy little flat above a deli and now she’s found love with her childhood crush, gorgeous chef Will.
But when Will becomes a Youtube sensation, thanks to his delicious cookery demos (both the food and his smile!), their life of contentment come crashing down around them. Can Jayne have her Tiramisu and eat it? (Goodreads)
The book begins with Jayne bumping into her childhood crush, Will Scarlet, in the waiting room of her dentist. To begin with she doesn’t realise it’s him, with them hitting it off as two strangers discussing literature and sharing obscure references. She almost can’t believe she is having this reaction to a man, as she is always overlooked for being a dowdy English teacher while the men favour her twin sister. In fact, it is only when her sister turns up that Jayne realises who she has been talking to, with the recognition leading them to reminisce about old times and realise that there is still a spark between them. Will asks her out on a date the next day and the rest, as they say, is history.
Of course, this would be an awfully short novel if that was the case, so the real plot begins with Will’s culinary ambitions for his deli. He has trained under great chefs and now wants to branch out alone, having a vision to open more outlets or train up his own team. Jane is behind him one hundred percent, encouraging him when he decides to run his first cookery class, even though several of his students are only there to goggle at his tall, dark, handsomeness. The classes are a success, with some students asking Will for repeat tutorials if they have to miss a class.
It is from this that the idea of filming a tuition video is born, intended only for the cookery students. However, with Will’s good looks and endearing manner, his videos go viral overnight and are soon a hot topic of conversation. He is invited do to guest cookery segments, and has agents calling to represent him and photographers lurking outside the front door. Jane is thrilled for him at first, but she soon learns that the public eye can be cruel when you’re not rich and glamorous, as she becomes the target of hurtful comments about her looks and vulgar suggestions that she must be paying Will to be her boyfriend. What makes it even worse is that some of the comments come from her own mother, leaving Jane uncertain as to whether her and Will can still share a future.
I enjoyed how this book takes a different approach to the romance genre, beginning with the coupling of Will and Jane and putting their relationship to the test, rather than ending with a ‘happily ever after’ style union. They share an immediate connection and are content to spend every minute in each other’s company, knowing from the minute they reconnected that they were meant to be. This may sound overly picturesque, but the way it is depicted makes it seem natural and will remind you of that one perfect couple that everyone seems to know, as they share each other’s corny jokes and make references meant just for them. Their happiness is real and is given life on the page, making you empathise more deeply with Jayne when their relationship starts to crumble, especially when the media begin to victimise her.
I did like Jayne as a protagonist but found that she could be a little whiny at times, trying to be strong for Will but always moaning behind his back that she disagreed with some of his decisions. However, I could really understand her despair at the victimisation she suffers, not to mention the comments made by her mother. Jayne tries to give her mother second chances when her sister would happily cut her loose, always hoping that she will have changed and will no longer show the carelessness for her daughters that she has since they were born. She is only interested in money, leaving Jayne to pick up the pieces every time it goes wrong, so I admired Jane’s strength and optimism, wanting to believe the best of everyone.
Will was somewhat similar, always looking on the bright side and taking everything that happens well within his stride. The pressures of fame don’t seem to affect him, and he is up for any challenge that his agent throws at him. He soon finds himself drawn into modelling as well as cooking, with it being no secret that his good looks are part of his success. For him, it is all about enjoying the moment, and he is often oblivious to Jayne’s distress and how she is really feeling about the whole thing. I still found that I liked him a lot, as he stays modest and is more overwhelmed and amused by the attention than actively coveting it. Yes, he might be guilty of not comprehending all of Jayne’s emotions, but on the whole he was a genuinely nice guy and I liked him as a love interest.
Overall, I found that I did enjoy this book, despite my slight issues with some of the characters. I thought that all of their back stories were well-developed and that we were given a real, in-depth exploration of what made both Jane and Will tick. The novel has a careful use of time, with there being some slight jumps forward to advance the status of their relationship, but that don’t affect the understanding of the plot or the general sense of pace. I think the only other thing that this book needed was some extra content as an appendix, as I have grown used to culinary fiction containing recipes for some of the dishes described within, but this novel has no such delicious extras. This is, of course, only a minor point, and on the whole I would recommend this romance and the good humour it provides within its pages.
A heart-warming novel about the joys of food and romance, this book slightly subverts the norm by throwing a couple together at the very start and then putting their love for each other to the test. I thought the way in which Will’s rise to fame was depicted had a good balance of pace, with there being a steady increase in Jayne’s tension and anxiety regarding the press attention they both receive. However, the best part about this novel is the sense of fun prevailing throughout, as there is always a funny side to every situation and the humour will leave you with a smile on your face.