Boo: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St Amant

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Source: GoodReads

I’ll read a lot of things, but I sort of draw the line at Inspirational romance. While I am a quasi practicing Catholic (meaning, I only attend mass at holidays and when I’m dragged to it—i.e. when it’s my mother’s birthday—and don’t believe the church’s views on several social issues), I don’t like reading about people’s religion that are like a written version of all those lame Kurt Cameron movies. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is marketed as a contemporary, which was why I picked it up, but it soon became clear after reading the author’s bio and some brief God allusions that this is light inspirational lit.

I still continued on though, because it wasn’t blatantly in Kurt Cameron territory, but I couldn’t finish the sucker because it was just bad. And that’s not include the random Bible versions and come to Jesus talk which is annoying enough when it would randomly appear in a text conversation of all things.

The summary of the book drags you in, the book is set in a cooking competition that looks like it’s akin to Cupcake Wars—but this show is called Cupcake Combat. It’s sort of funny they changed the name when the fictional show airs on the Food Network in this book, it’s like be a little more obvious St. Amant but I’ll relent. But seriously, what’s wrong with making up a network like I don’t know like even the Food Channel. You have to use the Food Network’s name but then blatantly change the obvious show you’re trying to mimic.

Anyway, set in a food competition this book features around a woman named Kat who is the blandest crybaby to ever live. You see her life sucks because she wasn’t born blonde like her sister—STELLLA (always have to put a Streetcar Named Desire reference when I hear/read that name) and she banished to working at her aunt’s cupcake shop (apply named Sweetie Pies, even though they only sale three flavors of cupcakes) because everyone in her family hates her. And her life is so horrible mixing those Duncan Hines cake mixes of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Because no one in the town Kat has been banished to have ever heard of the special cupcakes that she likes to do—like throwing cherries into her chocolate cupcakes—and it’s just draining the life out of her. Luckily, she has her best friend and resident asshole Lucas to fix things for her.

Obviously, I have little sympathy towards Kat. Maybe if her problems weren’t so superficial I’d care. Or maybe if I could understand why the bakery called itself Sweetie Pies when it served no pie, or made do with just three cupcake flavors despite being in freaking Louisiana which is sort of known for their variety of desserts. And really, Kat, red velvet isn’t that hard of a cupcake to make for an experienced Southern baker. You are just showing your inexperience. But I guess when you mix three flavors of Duncan Hines mix all your life, red velvet would be a difficult to make. And as much as Kat likes to complain about her life, I really didn’t think it was that bad. I just wondered how a bakery stayed open making three cupcake flavors and how they named themselves Sweetie Pies when there’s no freaking pies? Talk about misrepresentation. The only somewhat coherent explanation I made up in my head is that Aunt Maggie is making some special pies that she sells when Kat’s not there that would get her in trouble with the local sheriff. Either that, or the town only has one bakery, and you’re sort of stuck with three flavors of cake.

I think I was supposed to feel sorry for Kat, but I there wasn’t really any significant development for her whining to look anything more than first world problems. Really, if you don’t like making Duncan Hines cake mixes be assertive, work and compromise with your aunt rather than having your Duck Dynasty wannabe best friend entire you into some faux Cupcake Wars competition—again, did Cupcake Combat have to be on the Food Network? Really, did we need to be that obvious?

I could not stand the male lead in this one folks. He is creepy as fuck. And looks down at anything that is not deep fried and generica. Seriously, they leave a nice restaurant in order to go for the pink slime at a fast food restaurant.  Seriously, he basically pouts when Kat was like let’s eat at this nice place, though she eventually agrees that fine dining= snotty people. Note, I might be a little prejudice in this regard since the last time I ate a Mickey D’s burger I received such severe food poisoning I haven’t gotten anything more than a Coke from there in about a decade. But regardless of my own fast food prejudice, I just found it a little odd that someone who is entering a food competition would be more happy with a gross Mystery Meat burger than fine dining. And who gives a fuck that a salad is fifteen dollars? It’s fine freaking dining. If you didn’t want to spend so much on food, you could’ve looked up restaurants near you on Yelp. But alas, it’s fifteen dollars a salad or Mickey D’s. And it just doesn’t end with the we take pink slime instead of filet mignon incident, Lucas constantly snarks at people for dressing “metro” and says he doesn’t want Kat looking one of those evil city people with makeup and shiny lips.

Really, he mocks anyone with any education or culture background that is different from his own? Honestly, I think one of the reasons I despised Lucas is because he rang Trump voter to me. That and besides being anti-intellectual he is creepy as fuck. So, he secretly tapes Kat to get her on the show and then he follows her around like a puppy dog and is just God awful controlling and their not even together yet. Like he snaps at her for watching The Wizard of Oz instead of football.

Well, Lucas, if it would’ve been me I would’ve told you to fuck football. I was forced to attend stupid football games in high school because I had to be in stupid marching band so that I could be in concert band and I still have no interest or know how that fucking game works.

And at this point dear reader you’re probably like resentment much?

Hell yeah, when idiots like Lucas say that football games are better than classic movies and who like fucking McDonalds better than surf and turf.

I actually ranted about more of the superficial problems that I had with Lucas (sans creepy taping Kat behind her back scene, I honestly wondered if the douche had one installed in her shower that’s how big of a creep he came off as). The real problem with the character is that he’s emotionally manipulative and as a result emotionally abusive. There’s obvious control issues there, and while what I mentioned was petty it’s just examples of how the character acts throughout the book. Full disclosure, I DNF’d this one, but the way the book was going it was clear that Lucas was thinking about sabotaging the MC so that she wouldn’t win and could be his woman and make him some special cupcakes (note, not specialness is not the same as my head cannon Aunt Maggie’s special pies).

Like I said, the pairing was really wasn’t working for me. And from the page flipping I did there seems to be some complications with a creepy judge. But really, from what I saw the judge wasn’t as creepy as Lucas—but from the various page flipping and reviews I read he transforms to being really creepy.

Besides the bland characters and horrible ship, the other HUGE problem I had with this book was the fucking cupcakes. I’ll admit I’m not a baker. I can’t really bake unless it’s gluten free shit, and to be honest if you ever try to make something gluten free you know that it’s a) going to taste bad or b) you’re going to need a whole lot of skills so unless it’s those bake and break gluten free cookies, I usually don’t go there unless the flour has already been properly mixed with the proper thickening agent—and FYI, getting preprepared gluten free flour with xanthium gum already mixed in it is expensive. However, I have binged profusely on a lot of baking shows—because when you can’t eat delicious bake goods you might as well enjoy watching people talk about them. I will say without a doubt, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would’ve crucified Kat and everyone else in this stupid competition about the quality of their bakes.

Seriously. I’ll just go through some of the cupcakes that were made. The first competition cupcake ingredient included a mixture of peanut butter, chocolate chip, and caramel with a stinking topping decoration of an animal crackers and caramel corn. Mary and Paul would probably remark how it wasn’t an innovative use of the ingredients, I mean sticking a freaking animal cracker as decoration. On most food shows they probably would’ve at least crumbled the sucker and incorporated it into the batter somehow. The same with the caramel corn using it as garnish and decoration is just downright lazy. The peanut butter, caramel, chocolate combination to me seemed to be a little too heavy—peanut is a heavy flavor on it’s own and while chocolate can work with it, with caramel added to it to me would seem overly sweet. You’d have to balance it somehow correctly (often with the amount and quality of ingredients), but nothing is said here at all. Instead, all we get is Kat bad mouthing someone’s brownies because they were gooey. And gooey brownies are just bad, ya’ll.

At the end of the day, I gave up on this one before it could cause my headache to get any worse (172 pages). Oddly enough, the inspirational crap didn’t even get to me. Yes, there were some annoying biblical quotes—really book, people don’t text Bible quotes—but other than that I didn’t want to throw this book against the wall at least for that. I did want to throw the book against the wall for it’s judgmental hillbilly leads who think apparently adding animal crackers as a decoration in a food competition is innovative.

Overall Rating: DNF. Burn book, burn.

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