⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 Stars)
This book warms your heart like a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
Sophie Copeland is moving from Seattle to Boston. She used to work in a very prestigious restaurant called Paradigm as a pastry chef but after a disastrous appearance on a reality TV Show called ‘No Whisk No Reward’ (where her nerves got the best of her) people started doubting her skills until she reached a boiling point. Now, she is looking to join her friend Anna who is remodeling her Boston bakery. Sophie decides that she will do a cross-country trip visiting some pastry shops along the way before she reaches her final destination.
It’s in the middle of nowhere Tennessee that she gets lost on the road and almost hits another vehicle. Enter Joel, a strong and silent type with a rugged beard that finds Sophie a place to stay, all while she learns that her car is unfixable and that she needs to take residency in the newfound town of Green Valley and work for the local Donner Bakery until she has the funds to keep moving on.
What I found to be the most fascinating thing about ‘No Whisk No Reward’ was the atmosphere. This is the second book I’ve read from the Green Valley universe, and I don’t know about the rest of the Winston Brothers series, but this one just set the perfect mood of this small town for me.
“During the fall, the endless sea of elevated spruce trees wore a frosty, silver tinge but on clear days, they glowed with the breathtaking pinks and oranges of the sunrise and sunset. Hues that made you want to become a recluse and spend your life chasing an endless autumn, floating around from cabin to cabin, snuggled up with a never-ending supply of books and hot chocolate somewhere in the midst of all that incredible foliage.”
“Yet despite all that, ever since being informed of Green Valley’s insidious underbelly, there was an ever-present hint of something a little darker and more dangerous than just bears and mountain lions despite all that natural wonder and charm.”
In a way, the setting reminded of something like Twin Peaks (without the paranormal craziness, of course) but like a small dormant town that looks picture-perfect but has its hidden secrets.
Both Sophie and Joel are very well-rounded characters. Sophie is tough but anxious, she’s sassy and brave but has its limitations. She is so easy to identify with and as human as they come. I adored the fact that she was addicted to True Crime podcasts, it made way to a lot of funny and relatable moments. Joel is a charming dichotomy. The tall strong bearded man that is actually lonely and shy. I just wanted to hug him half the time.
Having said that, this story is very slow burn. Romance-wise you will be way over the halfway mark for something to start happening. That might be an issue for some readers but it didn’t annoy me. I actually liked how everything was layered and the suspense built up. Even though the main mystery of the story is not really a mystery, (it’s something you can guess from the beginning) it’s interesting to see how everything pans out, and especially to see Sophie connecting the dots and making sense of this complicated town and its inhabitants.
However, a few details bothered me a bit towards the end:
- We never get to meet Anna and don’t really know what happened to her bakery and how she took Sophie’s news.
- Although I didn’t mind the slow burn, I would have liked to see more interaction between Joel and Sophie towards the end. We know that he had to deal with a couple of things but there was no real explanation to why he ghosted Sophie for two and a half weeks. But even after, it would have been nice to see them together and happy in Boston just a bit. It was hard saying goodbye to them.
- Because I only read one book from the Winston Brothers series (and the Baking me Crazy from this Donner Bakery series) I felt left out of a few inside jokes. This is not really a complaint, but I felt that there was a lot of other characters mentioned and it would have been nice to have known more about them.
Things that made me really happy:
- I love to cook and I’m a sucker for all cooking reality shows, so this backdrop was a treat to me.
- Cletus, Joy, Jennifer, Tempest and the whole cast. The town was populated with incredible characters.
- Paul Newman. Sophie’s obsession with him is delightful and it’s such a quirky addition to the plot.
Overall this is a delicious book to read. The pacing is soothing and I feel like it’s the perfect book to just relax with. Get yourself a blanket, find a cozy spot, brew some tea and have fun.
This was an ARC sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
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About Ellie Kay
Ellie Kay is an Australian born living in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada who honed her creative writing skills in the colorful, and imaginative world of Corporate Insurance.
Socially awkward, she loves to respond to theatre ticket vendors who say, “enjoy the movie” with, “Thanks, you too,”, but she also likes to cook, travel and spend time with her partner and cat Taako.
Ellie is on a mission to help change the stigma surrounding the Romance genre and hopes to see a day when they are no longer considered “guilty pleasures,” but rather, just a pleasure.
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