Title: The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe
Author: Mary Simses
No. of Pages: 352
Origins: Hachette Books
Release Date: 09 July 2013
Bottom Line: Predictable but sweet
“Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish—to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough.”
Thoughts: Ellen Branford is used to being in control. As a lawyer in a prestigious firm, engaged to one of the more eligible bachelors in her milieu, she has a firm grasp of who she is and the direction of her future. However, a trip to Beacon, Maine to fulfill the deathbed wish of her beloved grandmother proves how little she knows about her future. In Mary Simses’ The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe, Ellen learns firsthand that even the most well-laid plans can diverge down unexpected but no less pleasant ways, and that the result is not necessarily always a tragedy.
Ellen is a bit of a conundrum. As a high-powered lawyer, she is quite intelligent and independent. However, her reaction to her almost-drowning is unusual, and her initial interactions with Roy are childlike in her petulance. It seems out of character and is not adequately explained to allow readers to justify why she wants to remain anonymous. In addition, there is a darker aspect of her relationship with her fiancé at which Ms. Simses only hints but which could go a long way to explaining Ellen’s irrational fear of being caught. It is the one unexplored avenue of the novel that is such an opportunity lost to take a decent story and give it a depth that it just does not have in its current form.
Ellen’s relationship with her fiancé is the one thing about The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe which differs from the romantic comedy stereotypes. The rest trods a familiar path. Roy is the love interest with all of the elements. Handyman? Yep – contractor. Hidden depths that include education and money? Of course. Good looking? Would it be a romance otherwise? Antagonistic attitude hiding his true feelings? Absolutely. It’s all there – from the sweetly sentimental and sensitive to the rough, tough, manly thing. It always makes for enjoyable reading, but nothing is going to be a surprising attribute. The plot unfolds as expected, with the expected friction that quickly turns into something else. All of the problems miraculously resolve themselves, and a happy ending ensues.
That being said, there is something decidedly homespun about the entire story which makes it easy to forgive the weaker elements. Ms. Simses paints the town of Beacon, Maine as a quintessential small town in New England, complete with quirky inhabitants, picturesque buildings and a gorgeous landscape. There is a frequent mention of baked goods, particularly blueberry muffins, that will make a reader crave carbs. In fact, there is a focus on all sorts of food that will leave a reader hungry and envious at all of the good food being had in such a small town. It also has its comic moments that are just endearingly cute. Some of the scenes in said local hotspot will cause more than one chuckle, as Ellen learns to handle her new-found fame. It may be cheesy but it also adds to the overall charm of the story.
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe is a simple story designed to entertain and nothing more. Ellen is likable, even if she is a bit naïve about her emotions. Roy is what you would expect in women’s fiction. Their interactions are adorable. While the story is predictable, there is a certain satisfaction to knowing just how such a story is going to end and pleasure to be derived from watching it unfold as expected. The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe is a perfect light read for summer with its popular tale of love in the most unexpected places.