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4.20.2011

Review: Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney

Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes by Roisin Meaney
Contemporary
Trade Paperback $13.99 (400 pages, FIVE SPOT)
Ebook $9.99

Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake. But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.
Author Site: www.roisinmeaney.com

More Soapy Than Sweet (3 stars)

Once in a while I try to break outside my usual reading taste and try something different. One of my secret joys in life is baking. I'm terrible at it but even when your cupcakes sink in the middle they're still yummy. Thinking I'd enjoy a book about a woman opening a cupcake shop in a small Irish community, Semi-Sweet sounded like it had potential to be a nice dip outside my usual paranormal fare.

Meaney is a great writer, she's good at giving the reader great sensual cues to bring them into the scene. You can see the way Wally's wool cap musses his hair or smell Patrick's cloying aftershave that makes Leah gag. She can also stimulate strong emotional response to what her characters each go through. This is writing at a great quality.

What just didn't do it for me was the pace. This book gets bogged down at parts with frustrating moments where it seems like nothing is happening. A big part of that might be that this story jumps around from one character to another constantly. We get to see what everyone is doing and with whom. We know who Hannah's ex hires as his new PA, we see how Hannah's parents react to the break-up. In ways I liked it at first, there was something a little soap opera like about how everyone was being affected directly or indirectly by the choices of other people in the community. After a point though it was just aggravating.

The final few sections focused more on everyone except Hannah so much that I was kind of left wondering why the blurb made it seem like she was the central character. The ending was very anticlimactic and I was left feeling a bit like I'd just read a bunch of randomness and didn't really get anything out of it. The characters were all well written but by the end I wasn't emotionally invested in them enough to care how their stories ended mostly because so much time was spent jumping around.

Overall if you're a contemporary fiction fan looking for something to waste away a rainy day I think this one is well written and if the concept appeals to you it'd be a nice read. It just didn't satisfy me personally and since it's not my usual fare what can I say? I tried it and didn't love it, but maybe you will.

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Notes: Received ARC via NetGalley.

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