Claire, aka Neely.O'Neil moves her life and business from New York back to her home town of Millcreek Valley in Ohio, partly motivated by the infidelity of her football superstar husband Luke. In some ways, it's a blessing as her cake shop,named for her signature bake Rainbow Cake, is well suited to the growing wedding industry in the area.
With help from friends like Roshanda, a no nonsense dress designer, Neely finds that resettling her roots isn't as difficult as it seemed be and as soothing as getting that just right cup of coffee in the morning:
An unexpected aid to Neely's new life is her ability to sense people's true needs and secrets through the flavors that they love. Orange, for example, is a wake up call and cinnamon revives old memories.
She uses this special gift to help select the perfect flavors for her clients but sometimes, that power goes slightly awry and brings about the most unexpected results not only for her customers but a few of her friends as well:
What really drives Neely,however, is a situation that she can sense is brewing yet she can't quite place who is exactly in need of her help. The overwhelming sour taste that haunts her palate has echoes of a long ago bond broken up due to tragedy with tinges of lemon cake sorrow lingering in the emotional air:
While this is Judith Fertig's first time in the fiction kitchen, the sweet and savory elements of her debut novel do blend well together just as expertly as any long time writer of this genre.
There is a strong sub plot mixed into the main story that is important and heartfelt but I did wish at some points to spend a little more time with Neely and her circle of family and friends.
However, that's a minor quibble as the overall flavor of this warmly engaging story is as satisfying as a freshly baked cupcake straight out of the oven. I hope to see and taste more of Fertig's novel delights, maybe even a sequel that places Neely's wedding cake customers and their unexpected flavor readings at the forefront.
The Cake Therapist is due out in June and if you're looking for a smart sweet treat to add to your beach bag of books, this delightful read will sate your reading appetite quite nicely: