Wednesday, March 16, 2022

TBR Challenge: Lucy Parker - Battle Royal

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.
Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.
When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.
The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.
In this royal battle, can there be room for two?

Comment: Before we thought about it, March has arrived and it's already half way. Today is the day for the TBR post and in March the theme is grumpy. I had planned on reading something else, considering the comments which made me want to read it, but it turned out to be a DNF. Very quickly, I had another look at my choices and ended up with this one, for Lucy Parker heroes always tend to be grumpy...

In this book we meet grumpy Dominic and bubbly Sylvie, who've met while she was a contestant and he a judge in a baking competition. She hasn't won but everyone remembers one of her creations and how it went wrong, exploding in his face. He told her her work wasn't good enough and she answered by opening her business right across the street from his. Now, four years later, she has been invited to also be a judge in the same competition and at the same time, both their businesses have been chosen to battle it out to see which one is chosen to create the cake for a royal wedding. Such work makes them spend a lot of time together and, of course, that opens up the road for interesting conversations and discoveries about one another...

This was the sixth book by the author I try and, apart from one - which she even wrote under a different name - I think it's pretty safe to say her style is easily identifiable (I mean, for those who have read several of her books). This is not a negative aspect for me, because I have enjoyed her books immensely but it can be said that after having read one, almost all follow the same patterns - if hers is a style one likes, then this can be quite positive.

Readers comment on the setting of the new series starting with this book as being quite similar to real life reality shows where amateur bakers do their best to win a competition and being myself a fan of these types of shows, I found the idea quite appealing. As also expected, the hero is a grumpy but hiding a heart of gold and a true moral compass and the heroine might seem like she is always happy and carefree but obviously hides some inner pain or sadness. The two become a couple and it's one of those stories where it can't be helped to be noticed they complement each other perfectly.

While this is a repetitive pattern for the author, I still liked knowing how the story would develop and I liked learning about Sylvie and Dominic's pasts, why and how they evolved from what we learn that shaped their personalities to the people we follow now. I confess I like other pairings better, some how here they fit their roles too perfectly and some of the little quirks which made previous books shine, only felt superficial here. I suppose what wasn't as great between them is how they go from arch enemies to want to be together.

This might sound unfair and often I felt that with so many books, not just those by this author, things always reach a point where the step from enemies to lovers is so cheesy or unrealistic but here, since they talk and explain themselves to the other person, just like any adult should do, I still miss some more drama and spontaneity in how they just can't help but be attracted, This is what I felt was missing; this step of falling in love seemed to be a little too stilted for what I expected.

That aside, this story was easy to read, fluid and I wanted to know what happened next. not because there was a lot to imagine out of what was predictable, but because I liked the characters and wanted to see what they would do next. The secondary characters were quite intriguing and I see the next book in this series features Dominic's sister, which is good but her love interest isn't the one I would have thought of, so it will be interesting to see how the author develops this and which role the couple from this book might have.

Regarding the grumpy theme, as one can imagine, after a while Dominic isn't as grumpy but he certainly doesn't lose his more serious personality in most situations, even if he mellows a little while near Sylvie or with those he comes to care about. I should also leave a note for the amazing bakery suggestions and content in this book, which have certainly made me want to eat chocolate and cakes while reading...

Everything considered, this was a good book, had all the elements I thought we would have but at the same time there was a small perpetual feel to the author's work and this not being her very best, for me it was a little hard to miss.
Grade: 8/10


  1. I find that the balance of enemies to lovers can be hard to find when the author has done a bit too good a job of setting the enmity up; go a bit too far in one direction, and I won't believe the redemption to love. Go a bit too far in the other, and I won't believe they ever disliked each other, making the pretend enmity into immaturity on one or both their parts.

    1. Very well said! I don't think this author does that badly, sometimes it can be some other detail that makes the whole thing feel differently. But there have been other books by other authors where what you said happened.
      Thank you for commenting :)

  2. this step of falling in love seemed to be a little too stilted for what I expected.

    This was how I felt about this one, too. I'm a fan of Parker's style but the warm fuzzy emotions of the two coming together weren't fully there for me in this one; I didn't "see" the emotions. I think this feel to first in a series syndrome with all the world building.

    1. I understand what you say.
      But it's interesting because, for me, my favorite book by her was Act Like It, which was the first in a series and somehow it all worked out so well.
      Meaning, the author can do it but here something extra was missing.

      Thank you for commenting!