Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

I really enjoyed The Parisian Christmas Bake Off! Author Jenny Oliver has written a really adorable story that mixes the Christmas season with a baking competition in Paris.

Here’s the synopsis:
Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!
Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.
Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.
As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…
Not even a dusting of icing sugar could make The Parisian Christmas Bake-Off a more perfect Christmas treat!
I had a couple of wee issues with this book. I was really confused at the beginning because a lot of names were being thrown around (main character, friends, teachers, students, the parents of students) and I couldn’t really keep track of who was who. And, in the long run, it really didn’t matter too much. I think it would have worked if the book had been longer and there had been more of a back story with the town but as it was, it was just too much. Speaking of back story, I’m still not entirely sure what happened to Rachel’s mom other than she died at some point prior to the start of the book. I am left to assume that it happened around Christmas because Rachel does not like the holiday but I don’t know how old Rachel was when it happened or even what exactly happened. It was an odd thing but there were some times where I wanted more information and other times where I wanted to cut out the unnecessary info. It’s unfortunate because if these things had been fixed I think this would have been a knock it out of the park novella. 

Oliver does a good job of keeping the romance from seeming too predictable. I had a pretty good idea what would happen at the end but there were some twists and turns that I was not expecting and I so appreciated that. It kept things from being boring and we can all agree boring is not good!

While the romance makes this story that much sweeter (pun intended), Rachel’s journey isn’t about finding a man. She needed to learn to accept what happened with her mother and learn that she can use the memories she has for good instead of torture devices. While she’s in Paris she remembers why she used to love to bake with her mom and I really loved seeing her grow and finally come into her own.

The baking competition aspect of this story was a lot of fun. I adore watching those kinds of shows on the Food Network so it was a lot of fun to read about it. I really felt like I could see the creations the contestants were baking thanks to the way Oliver wrote. My mouth was watering as I read about some of the goodies they were making – hot cross buns, souffl├ęs, macarons, chocolate croissants…oh, I could go on and on!

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off is more of a novella than a full length novel (it’s just 125 pages) so Jenny Oliver’s story can give you just the hit of sweet Christmassy goodness that you need this time of year without taking a lot of time out of your busy schedule. It’s really enjoyable and I think many others would like it too!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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