Title: A Recipe for Romance
Author: Lara Van Hulzen
Series: Bachelor Bake-Off #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 7th March
Wes planned a drive by trip to Marietta, Montana to help his dad close a business deal and then to head back to his life in New York. But when his dad volunteers him for the Bachelor Bake Off to commemorate a local fallen first responder, Wes can’t say no, even though Marietta holds painful memories and baking eludes his skill set.
After an accident sidelines Noelle Olsen’s career as a dancer, she moves to Montana to pursue a new dream: opening a dance studio in Marietta’s historic and charming downtown. When one of her students suckers her into helping the handsome Wes St. Clare whip up some winning recipes, Noelle finds herself dreaming about more than teaching dance.
Falling in love wasn’t part of Wes’ plans, and definitely not in Marietta, and as Noelle learns more about Wes and his business dealings, she fears she’ll lose her business along with her heart. Will cozy kitchens and a nudge from the St. Claire family help Wes and Noelle find the love they didn’t know they were looking for?
Source: ARC from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
This fifth installment from the multi-author Bachelor Bake-Off series is full of sweetness, if a little light on Marietta and baking. Wes is a billionaire who usually lives in New York, but is spending time with his father, brother and adorable niece, while Noelle is a dance teacher who recently moved north with her sister to make a new start in the small town. Family plays a big role, as does a fair dose of damsel in distress, and it all makes for a nice, easy escape.
It is slightly lacking in spark, though. Noelle is nice, but fairly muted as a character. She has a fair bit of tragedy packed into her recent past and there’s a risk of losing her business looming on the horizon, but for the most part you wouldn’t know it. She is good for Wes, because she doesn’t seem to care about his money, but a little more depth to their relationship would have been nice.
Wes is a total cliché. Rich businessman very much in the mould of his father, doesn’t like to think of sad stuff, hasn’t got time for relationships because women only want his money anyway, falls for the ordinary woman who also happens to need his help – even if it takes them all far too long to figure out the obvious solution. He’s nice enough, but a little lacking in interesting characteristics. Although he must be a super baker underneath it all, because it only takes one (not very good) lesson from Noelle each week to turn him into a competent baker.
None of which makes for a bad read. It’s all very nice and enjoyable, but I’ll admit I found Wes’ family – his father, his brother and his adorable niece – far more interesting than him. Likewise, I liked Noelle’s sister Holly and her best friend quite a bit more than Noelle herself. It might also have been nice to have seen a bit more of the Marietta I’ve come to know over the years. I didn’t even know they had a theatre in the town. I would also have liked the bake-off scenes to have been a bit more involved. They’re blink and you’ll miss it moments, included because of the series more than because they matter to the story, which is a shame.
Overall it’s okay, not the normal type of romance I’ve come to expect from Marietta, but fans of billionaire tropes will find something to like, especially if they like their romances clean and sweet.
A Recipe for Romance is out March 7th.
Visit Lara Van Hulzen for more details.