Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: Vanity Fare by Megan CaldwellTitle: Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love
Author: Megan Caldwell
ISBN: 9780062188366
No. of Pages: 416
Genre: Fiction

“Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman; her six-year-old son is questioning her authority, and now so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokémon and Legos, not to mention food and clothing, she has to get a job—fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a freelance position copywriting for a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who’s heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And then so does Molly, when she meets the chef’s intimidating business partner—who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own happily ever after.”

Thoughts: Molly Hagan is still struggling to adjust to life as a newly-single mother when she receives notice that her soon-to-be-ex can no longer afford child support. Suddenly that world that seemed intimidating but doable is a lot more treacherous as with no job and no child support, she has no money in which to feed her child. Much to her chagrin and dismay, she is forced to quickly find a job for the first time in six years. Enter her friend John, with whom she has worked in the past, and who has a timely offer for freelance copywriting work about a hot new bakery complete with its very own hot pastry chef. One taste of his pastries and one glimpse of his British sexiness, and Molly knows her life will never be the same again.

Such is the basic plot of Megan Caldwell’s latest novel, Vanity Fare.  Women’s literature at its finest, it has the added bonus of a main character that is an English major and bibliophile. Gorgeous men, compassionate and truth-talking best friends, and an adorable son round out this romantic comedy. The literary comments, as well as the fact that Molly is an avowed romance fan whereas her mother all but denounces her genre of choice, are an absolute blast. Molly herself is realistic and witty. She has a wicked sense of humor and a tendency to forget to filter her comments. This leads to some hilariously awkward moments that are as cringe-worthy as they are funny. Better yet, she is not a model, nor is she fabulously wealthy. She is not a rising star in her chosen field, and she definitely struggles with cleanliness and organization. She is a mother through and through – harried, disorganized, and just trying to provide a stable and loving home for her son. She is a character that is instantly recognizable and relatable for millions of readers.

Vanity Fare is exactly what it sets out to be – good, light-hearted fun – and that is perfectly okay. In fact, with its literary puns, delicious descriptions of the various baked goods, its awkward heroine, and not-so-awkward romantic interest, it is more than perfectly okay; it is absolutely fantastic. As a soon-to-be divorced mother with major self-esteem issues, Molly’s struggles are heart-wrenchingly and yet endearingly realistic. They are made all the more so by her support network, all of whom are not afraid to tell her to shut up and stop her whining, as any true friend would. As the love interest, Nick is appropriately sexy, and even though the big secret is anything but to savvy readers, it does not prevent one from enjoying the sparks. Vanity Fare is just a delight to read and quickly devoured with its humor, character growth, and romance. Just be warned – reading it may induce carbohydrate cravings!

Acknowledgments: Thank you to LibraryThing’s Early Reader program for my review copy!

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