When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.
Kathryn - 4.5 Star
I was engrossed by a number of aspects of this novel. The pie, first and foremost, was as engaging as a pie you can’t actually eat can be. That the author is a pastry chef is apparent from every ingredient to every described morsel. I was fascinated by all parts of the actual baking in this book. However, apart from the baking there was a host of likeable characters in this story.
First, Livvy herself was quite charming. I found her to be realistic and had high hopes that such an inn in Vermont did actuallyo exist with Livvy in the kitchen. This hope was coupled with my attachment also for the owner of the inn, Margaret, who was a touch prickly at first but her heart was shown early. You could not help but love her deep (and sometimes hidden) desire to see her staff succeed. I also respected Margaret’s sense of her business and her dedication to the area in which she grew up. There was also a sweet romance unfolding between Livvy and neighbour Martin and it added to the idyllic nature of their surroundings. I became attached to Martin’s family and the home he grew up in, every new family member of his that we were introduced to (and there were many, many of them) just endeared me more to the town, the family and the whole book.
There were of course a number of frustrations to make you want to smack some sense into people (particularly between Martin and Livvy) which made the novel a little bit long for me. On the whole though, I completely lost myself in the beauty of this small town in Vermont and the baking I could almost taste.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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