What do you get when you take all the ingredients necessary for a successful Hallmark movie, add some sugar and spice, and combine it all with a boldly queer heroine? You get Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, a delightful and sweet novel from the author who created the equally excellent and bestselling Boyfriend Material. Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake has everything Alexis Hall fans have come to expect from an Alexis Hall story: hilarious characters, witty writing, sexy romance, and the sort of wonderful tropes irresistible to romantic comedy lovers with twists that make them unique. His latest novel is a sugary confection that readers will devour easily and get a sugar rush from reading.
Rosaline Palmer is, by her own admission, at a bit of a crossroads. A single mother who dropped out of Cambridge to raise quirky 8-year-old Amelie, she’s dealing with parents who judge her for not living up to her potential and the nagging feeling she should be doing more with her life. Enter Bake Expectations (a hilarious parody of The Great British Bake-Off), an amateur baking show that promises Rosaline a break from her life while potentially offering her a new path to take. With her ex-girlfriend and best friend Lauren firmly in her corner, Rosaline makes her way to the show — only to immediately miss her train and find herself stranded with charming fellow contestant Alain. He’s the embodiment of her dream partner: attractive, accomplished, and driven. It’s a meet-cute straight out of a movie, and as their flirtation progresses, it seems meant to be. But why does Rosaline still feel something isn’t right? And why is she drawn to Harry, the electrician turned amateur baker who is all wrong on paper but might be exactly what she needs?
This novel has all the elements of a successful romantic comedy. Alain is the kind of man Rosaline can take home to her upper crust parents while Harry is the rough around the edges choice with a heart of gold. If Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake had contented itself with being a funny rom-com with relatable (and in Amelie’s case, adorable) characters, it would be a success by any objective measure. But Hall isn’t satisfied with the easy road. Rosaline’s journey isn’t choosing between two men. It’s about the kind of person she wants to be and the kind of life she wants to have. Watching Rosaline grow over the course of the novel is its biggest joy, and the ending feels earned.
In addition to being an entertaining read, Rosaline Palmer Take the Cake frankly deals with Rosaline’s bisexuality in a way that is realistic, from others assuming she is interested in a threesome based solely on her sexuality to her parents labeling her as “indecisive.” While Lauren, a lesbian, jokes with Rosaline about being interested in straight men, it’s always lighthearted and it’s clear Lauren wants Rosaline to be happy no matter who she’s with. Rosaline herself is absolutely sure in her sexuality and how she feels even when she’s unsure about everything else in her life. She deals with internal and external biphobia and has moments where she doubts herself, but overall she’s confident in who she is. Rosaline is a fully drawn character, and it’s refreshing to see a bisexual leading character presented this way.
You’ll wish there was more the second you finish this novel faster than a plate of fresh baked cookies, and thankfully, it’s the first of a trilogy titled Winner Bakes All. From hilarious side characters like Bake Expectations‘ foul mouthed producer to the lovely romance at the center of the novel, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake makes it easy to get lost in its sweet world.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is out now wherever books are sold. You can learn more about Alexis Hall’s other work on his website.