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Friday, August 24, 2012

Cake by Elise Marion

Cake by Elise Marion
Publisher: Smashwords
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Wedding planner Taylor Vaughn specializes in magical moments. So when her best friend asks her to plan his wedding, the task should have come as simply to her as all the others. There’s only one problem……she is desperately in love with the groom.

Caleb has always been Taylor’s best friend as well as her deepest and most secret desire. Her hopes that he will someday come to love her back are dashed on the day he brings his new fiancĂ© into their lives. While the misery of losing the man she loves to another woman looms over her, she doesn’t expect to find her head turned by the most unlikely of strangers.

Ethan Young, cake decorator, is everything a woman could want in a man: handsome, charismatic, and has a way with icing! When she finds herself feeling more than simple attraction for the sexy baker, her heart is torn in two between the man she’s always loved and the man who’s slowly stealing her heart.

This story takes the phrase, “I’ve got your back” to new levels as it follows two lifelong friends on their journey of love.

The epilogue shows what cemented their friendship. The following chapters embark upon the discovery that a different kind of love possibly awaits both friends but there’s a lot of emotional growth that needs to take place before that can happen. What used to be comforting and welcoming like an old pair of slippers no longer satisfies the people that they’ve both become but both are loathe to face the truth.

I liked the technique that the author used to highlight just how in tune both Caleb and Taylor were to each other although I didn’t recognize a lot of the actors mentioned. Its use expressed the sheer volume of past history they both shared without going into long and drawn out details that would do the job but less effectively. It was an interesting choice. That same familiarity also came with unforeseen pitfalls because although they knew each other as no one else did, there was one thing that neither of them ever thought to express or explore and because of it, the specter of the unknown caused a believable and troublesome conflict. Cake was definitely a character driven story.

This book is Taylor’s account. It’s told in her point of view and the author stayed true through the story. When she first gets the bombshell that the traditional dynamic of her relationship was about to change with Caleb, it was made clear that this was a shock. It woke her up that change was afoot and she had a very hard time dealing with it. Caleb’s decision was the first push against a long line of dominoes that knocked over one thing after another, forcing Taylor onto a new path with alternate possibilities before her. None of which she could see in a positive light, until Ethan steps into the picture.

Ethan is a great character. He’s talented, described as a man in his prime and yet, for all his perfection and cake professionalism, he’s had an unfortunate past. I have a lot of respect for a person who can raise themselves out of all that negativity and become a better man as well as a successful entrepreneur. He didn’t take the easy road and the man that Taylor meets is a man honed through adversity, perseverance and guided by the love of his grandmother. Ethan was a great choice for a hero. He’s also a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. It was absolutely delicious when he focused on Taylor.

Taylor, however, is really confused and riddled with guilt. She returns Ethan’s interest but she has to go through a rather emotional process before she’s truly comfortable with even the idea of being with him. That confusion and uncertainty had the power to do great harm and the author used it to good effect. So much so, I wasn’t sure who, if anyone, was going to get their happy ever after. Ms. Marion made it very clear to me how dangerous all these volatile emotions plaguing Taylor were. Their affect on her physically and mentally were hard to read about but that kind of catharsis usually breaks a weak person or strengthens and emboldens a strong person making them fearless in facing the truth. Taylor is the latter and a heroine I could respect.

The few times that Ethan and Taylor are together are quite steamy and hot. That man knows how to please a woman and the author made that clear, much to my satisfaction. There was just enough detail and descriptions to make me very happy on Taylor’s behalf.

Although this story was labeled as having some comedic elements, I didn’t find that. I found this story hard to read because of the intense emotions, the hurt feelings and the suspense of not knowing how anyone was going to end up happy. Yes, there were times I smiled, perhaps chuckled, but this story is a serious romance that touches the heart. I also felt that more time should have been spent with Caleb easing Kim into the relationship instead of the instant, ‘Poof! Here she is!”. Then again, the quickness of the change might have been on purpose because certainly it threw Taylor for a loop and that’s what the story was about, her dealing with it. Ultimately, there is a happily ever after, so it made all the hoopla and throwing up well worth it.

Cake is a wonderfully intense, full bodied romance that explores the nature of strong friendships. It shows that healthy and supportive relationships can have value and staying power when they grow as the people grow. Sometimes it’s not easy but well worth it because they can continue to enrich and support the growing circle of friends and share that special love amongst them all. As for Taylor, her ideas for her own wedding were definitely unique and freeing. For her, the fun is just beginning. Read Cake and see.