All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes Review
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Cupcakes and romance seem to be the perfect ingredients for a sweet and lovable work of chick lit. Just add a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite chair, and you’re ready for a relaxing, laid-back afternoon of reading. But in All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, author Betsy St. Amant struggles to get the proportions just right.

The story finds cupcake baker Kat Varland dreaming of escaping her world of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry in the small town of Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Though she loves experimenting with creative concoctions, her aunt Maggie insists on serving the classics at her cupcake shop—nothing weird.

When Kat’s best friend, Lucas, signs her up to be a contestant on the Food Network’s Cupcake Combat, her fear and insecurities give way to determination. This could be her chance to stand out and do her own thing. It could also get her out of Bayou Bend—which would mean leaving Lucas, the man she secretly loves.

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes seems to promise sweet treats and tense competition with a side of romance. Instead, it’s a long, drawn-out, and painfully predictable story about two self-absorbed adults who obsess over one another like teenagers while refusing to acknowledge the mutual attraction that’s blatantly obvious to everyone around them.

The cupcake competition offers plenty of excitement and drama—backstabbing, sabotage, and even a judge who might not be entirely unbiased. Unfortunately, though, all of this remains in the background—just an occasional distraction from the inner monologues of two annoying characters who can’t express their feelings for each other.

Kat is talented and creative but weak and needy, depending on Lucas to love, protect, and validate her. She dreams of getting out of town and starting her own business, and she wants Lucas to come with her—even if it means giving up his dream job as a high school football coach. Lucas, meanwhile, is already taking steps to make his own dreams come true. He’s about to buy his dream home—one that he expects Kat to share with him—and, at one point, he considers sabotaging her in the competition to keep her from leaving town.

Even after Kat kisses Lucas—around halfway through the book—they refuse to discuss it, preferring, instead, to analyze and reanalyze the event, wondering what the other is thinking. Lucas is afraid to bring it up, while Kat is angry that Lucas isn’t initiating a conversation about it—despite the fact that she was the one who did the kissing in the first place. It’s a constant back-and-forth of slow-motion play-by-plays (not to mention cheesy football analogies). Had one of the two of them simply passed the other a note, saying, “Do you like me? Check one (yes / no)” it would have made things a lot easier for everyone involved—especially the readers—and it would have allowed the novel to focus on the interesting part of the story: the cupcake competition.

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes seems like an obvious choice for anyone who loves baked goods and chick lit. But the focus on the dithering characters and their prolonged middle school melodrama makes for a long and frustrating read.

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