2022, Week the Sixth: Donuts and Flowers and Cake Pops

February 9, 2022 Romance 2

Hiya Bookworms,

I did not update you last week because we had a giant winter storm and I unexpectedly had my kiddo home for 3 days. The first two were because daycare was closed, but the third was because we were hopelessly snowed in- specifically to our driveway. We got a little over a foot of snow, but since we live across from an open field, we had some bonkers drifting action. So much so that even after nearly 13 inches of snow fell, you could still see our grass, but the driveway was apocalyptic. Why couldn’t it have drifted in the large expanse of yard? Science or Murphy’s Law or God having a sense of humor; it’s hard to say. But the mass quantities of snow were more than our snow blower could handle. I went out to hand shovel a portion of it just to make it manageable for the machine and then I accidentally just shoveled a huge 3 foot mesa of snow. I was all “ooh this is good exercise” and “Sam is having so much fun playing while I do this, no sense in dragging him in yet” and then it was done. I have needed a lot of ibuprofen and have suffered for my hubris. (I am NOT in peak physical condition, mind you.) All that said, I am here now, and I have read books. Let’s talk about them!

The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu- I know what you’re thinking. “Katie, you went out of your way to read a third witchy romance for a post recently and the perfect opportunity for you to write a donut themed romance post arose and you didn’t take it?!” I did not. I don’t have a good reason for this beyond just not feeling like looking up another donut book. This book is great, but perhaps less happy-go-lucky than one might expect given the pink sprinkle donut on the cover. This book really zeroes in on that “I just got out of college- now what?” ennui that many of us experience in trying to figure out the next steps in our lives. Jasmine Tran is a recent UCLA graduate with a degree in Sociology and no clue what to do next. While she tries to figure that out, she’s helping her parents out in their donut shop. The endless hours and monotony have Jasmine feeling trapped, but she’s not quite sure how to move on. When Jasmine is fixed up with her old college crush Alex Lai, things seem to be turning around. I mean, how could her parents object to the handsome Asian boy with a good job? Unfortunately, things are never QUITE that simple, because LIFE, but this book has a sweet ending. (See what I did there? Sweet? Donuts? I’ll see myself out.)

Pansies by Alexis Hall- If there is one thing I’ve learned over my years on the Bookternet, it’s that my friend Jenny (of Reading The End) consistently gives me fabulous romance recs. So when she was like “I just love this book with these messy doofuses” I listened. Pansies is angsty and messy and even though I typically prefer low-angst romances, I was all in. Alfie Bell looks like he’s got it all together- he’s got a six figure job, a fancy car, and a penthouse filled with fashionable (if uncomfortable) furniture. Coming back home to South Shields for a friend’s wedding is a bit more awkward than he bargained for, though. While he told his family he was gay once he figured it out (which took a while) Alfie ends up coming out to an entire wedding reception by accident. Then he meets a dreamy boy at a bar, only to later find out this lad is the same kid Alfie and his friends used to torment in school. Fen is an even bigger mess than Alfie, given his self destructive taste in hookups. He’s got good reason though- he lost his mom and has been attempting to keep her legacy alive by running her beloved flower shop, and it is not going particularly well. Do I normally go for the “boy falls for his formerly closeted bully” thing? No. But Alfie does offer to let Fen give him a swirly, and he HAS changed, and Alexis Hall somehow managed to make me root for him? What sorcery is this? The audio book featured very thick Yorkshire accents, and I am a sucker for regional British accents (because not everyone sounds like the Queen. It’s a whole thing, the accents.) Also, I used to work in a flower shop and I swear I could smell it in my brain as I was reading this book. The flower shop was easily one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, so that made me extra happy. It was everything I didn’t know I needed in a romance. I’ll note that I was a little surprised by how steamy this book was- I’ve read a few other Alexis Hall books and while they may have had intense smooching, they usually went closed door when it came right down to it. This one did… Not. So. In case you were expecting Boyfriend Material (review), this isn’t it. Equally charming, but a whole different vibe.

The Sweetest Fix by Tessa Bailey- This was a short, sweet story about a Wisconsin girl who dreams of being a Broadway dancer. After missing her Big Break audition, she decides to do whatever it takes to get a second chance, including tracking down the son of the, um, auditioneer? Is that a word? Anyway, Reese shows up ready to charm this guy into talking to his Dad. Then she gets hit with Cupid’s arrow when the dance master’s big burly baker of a son appears. Reese looses her nerve in asking Leo for any favors but gives him a brilliant idea for a Valentine’s Day cake pop promotion and plants a big old smooch on him before she skedaddles. Leo is all surly about dancers because his dad has so much influence on Broadway- he’s gotten used to being used. Also, he’s a baker who enjoys his wares and he’s suspicious of anyone with a dancer’s physique being into him as a big dude. None of that stops him from tracking Reese down (in a very un-creepy way) and embarking on a romance, of course. Is it refreshing to see a plus-size hero? Yes. Is Leo my favorite big man hero in all of romance? No. But alas, there will never be a husky boo who lives up to Mason from Xeni ‘s (review) standards. Leo and Reese are cute and super hot for each other, though, so it’s a fun read. And, you know, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Look at me being seasonally appropriate for a change.

That’s it for me today, Bookworms. I hope you’re all staying well and finding joy wherever you can.

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2 Responses to “2022, Week the Sixth: Donuts and Flowers and Cake Pops”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Sooo so glad you liked Pansies — and yeah, Alexis Hall’s earlier books have more explicit sex scenes, for sure. I TOO am amazed that he made the premise of this book work, and I somehow feel the accents had something to do with it. (I didn’t read this in audio but he does a really good job of representing what the accents sound like in text, so.)

  2. Amanda

    I got excited because I thought this was a different Donut book review that I was wavering on. Just decided to return Donut Fall in Love because I just can’t do grief books. Maybe I’ll try this for a Donut fix!

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