For day 2 of #PrideLibrary21, the prompt is “pink books”, and since Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is a pink book, I decided to share my review of it today! This queer baking romcom was my favourite read of May, and you can read my full, rambly review below, but please be aware that it has SPOILERS!
Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.
Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory. Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.
Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.
I don’t really know how to review this book without including spoilers, so look away now if you don’t want to know more!
When I started this book, I did immediately click with the main character, the setting, the humour… But we were introduced to a love interest whom I really didn’t like from the start. He was bland and boring and a pretentious asshole, and I was really apprehensive to see where the book was going to lead.
I needn’t have worried though, because enter Harry. I could write a fucking essay on how much I love Harry and why. Not just because he’s such a cinnamon roll, but also because here we have the kind of person who normally isn’t seen as the romance hero. Because he’s working class and people tend to really look down on him. I absolutely loved seeing the way this was handled.
Because Rosaline spends quite a large part of the book involved with Alain the snobbish dickhead, she and Harry spend most of the book building a genuine friendship. And I loved this, because often in romance novels, I get the shady feeling that the love interest is only respectful towards the main character because he’s attracted to her and wants to get in her pants. I often wonder how these men will treat someone who’s unavailable to them romantically and sexually and if they’d still treat that person the same. And this is where we learn that Harry is just a genuinely good person. He accepts that Rosaline is in a relationship and builds a genuine friendship with her without expecting more, he’s genuinely there for her when she needs him, and most importantly: he’s very teachable. Whenever he says something Rosaline isn’t comfortable with, he’s open to correction and actually listens. I just loved him a lot, okay??
And aside from Harry, Rosaline herself is also a fairly “unconventional” main character in a romance. She’s a single mum who had her daughter at 19 years old, and she dropped out of uni. She goes through so much growth throughout the book in terms of choosing the life she wants and not the one her parents want for her, and at the end I was honestly proud of her for how far she’d come.
Rosaline is also bisexual and the book really delves into the casual and more violent biphobia she encounters. Whenever someone says books with an m/f relationship aren’t valid queer books, I just want to point them in the direction of books like this, because this book is very much queer because Rosaline is.
If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me while I ramble. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more coherent but I just have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book.