Recipe For Love
by Darlene Panzera, contemporary (2013)
Avon Impulse, $3.99, ISBN 978-0-06-224269-3


Ha, called it! Recipe For Love, the second short story in Darlene Panzera's The Cupcake Diaries series, features yet again another premise with a cash-strapped heroine being handed all the solutions to her woes, because of the very fact that she's the heroine and therefore, she's entitled to some privileges.

Rachel Donovan is the "cynical" cliché of the trio of pea-brained women attempting to make a go at the cupcake shop business, so she's has her own rules. Don't date any guys more than twice, or he'll break her heart. In this story, she meets magician Mike Palmer while he's doing his thing at her shop. She naturally assumes that he's a burglar and tries to act cute in sassing the burglar because the author wants her heroines to be full of all-that Southern... thing... I guess. Somehow "sass" becomes "stilted and contrived" in the process, kind of like Julia Roberts pretending that she's all "Aw, shucks, I'm just a normal gal" when she was popular twenty years ago.

Mike wants her, Rachel goes "No, men will break my heart, aw shucks, I'm so cute, am I not?" and the author pads the story with silly filler moments. The incident mentioned in the synopsis of the back cover happens late in the story, so oops, the story spoiled itself in its need to convince people that it is really happening within the pages.

The heroine needs money, but because the shop is siphoning its profits to pay for everyone's debts and screw-up, she's not getting it anytime soon. Oh, someone will die... until a secondary character shows out of nowhere to give the money to Rachel because Rachel is so cute, sweet, and adorable. The heroine screws up, and Mike steps in to comfort her as she flails around until the cops come in to clean up the mess.

So, this is yet another story where the heroine commands love and attention despite being a dumb bumpkin. How on earth am I supposed to root for this twit when she can't do anything right on her own? The heroine having all the solutions handed to her just like that makes for a bland and lifeless story, so I'm surprised the author is so enamored of this premise that she has repeated the same premise three times in a row now.

Rating: 51


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