• Courtney J. Hall

Review: The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci

Miscommunication is a commonly-used plot device in romance novels, and if not done well, it can cause a reader to throw a book at the wall instead of rushing to buy the author's other books. It can seem lazy, a way to tear the main characters apart while making sure the road to reconciliation can be cleared simply by picking it up and moving it out of the way.

Fortunately, though miscommunication (or lack of communication entirely) is the main theme running through The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci and keeping its lead players from finding their Happily Ever After, it works in this story. It works very well.

Parker is a New York-based baker who's found fame through her bakery, Delicious and Vicious, which uses its goods - and the nasty messages baked into them - to help people do things like break up with a boyfriend, quit a job, or let a spouse know their cheating ways have been discovered. But she's just sold D&V to a new owner and is enjoying the idea of stepping back from the day-to-day craziness of running an insanely popular bakery. The only problem is that it's been her life for so long, she has no idea what to do with all the free time she has. And when her creativity, along with her innate baking know-how, decide to step back as well, her best friend Charlotte convinces her to leave Brooklyn and join her for a vacation in Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, where Charlotte lives with her boyfriend and group of friends.

It sounds like a good idea, but Charlotte's group of friends includes Nick - the guy Parker had been secretly seeing for months. That is, until he stopped returning her calls and dropped out of her life completely. Seeing Nick again brings back all the feelings Parker thought she was over, but since she can't tell Charlotte why he makes her so uncomfortable, she instead throws herself into life in the small town. She makes friends with a colorful and energetic group of elderly ladies, develops a YouTube show based around baking their old family recipes, and does whatever she can to avoid Nick - and especially his clingy new girlfriend.

Of course, this being a novel (especially one taking place in a small town), avoidance is impossible, and the more they find themselves together trying to play at being just friends, the more obvious it is that what brought them together before hasn't disappeared even though Nick did. And as the old feelings come bubbling to the surface, they have to work through figuring out what came between them in the first place, and if it's worth giving it another try.

This is the third book in a series, and although Parker, Nick, Charlotte and their friends appear in the first two, I don't think you have to read them before starting this one. I will be, though!

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