Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Theory of Second Best (Cake, #2)” as Want to Read:
The Theory of Second Best (Cake, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Theory of Second Best

(Cake #2)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  3,694 ratings  ·  405 reviews
Twenty-two-year-old Kyle McKallister has lived his life in the shadows. Younger brother to one of the world’s most elusive and embattled celebrities, Kyle has carved out a comfortable existence touring with his famous brother and living in the lap of luxury with no commitments or plans of his own, only a deep, haunting loyalty to his brother. But his life is about to be sh ...more
Kindle Edition, 526 pages
Published January 9th 2017 by Amazon Digital Services LLC
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Theory of Second Best, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Theory of Second Best

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,694 ratings  ·  405 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Theory of Second Best (Cake, #2)
TJ *Book Twins Reviews*
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book with fantastic narration.

Full review soon...
Second best!? More like it took the cake... I'm a dweeb.

This book follows the same timeframe as Cake - which I really enjoyed. I got to spend more time with that hilarious McKallister bunch as well as see how Jake's tragedy affected them firsthand. They walked on eggshells around him, but without him around, we got to really see how they felt.

Suicide attempts were not an uncommon occurrence in our household. It has taken a comprehensive and proactive effort, on all our parts, to keep him
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book follows along with the first book but is about Jake’s younger brother. He is usually part of Jake’s entourage but has been excepted into a survivor reality show. There he meets our heroine. A small town girl who wants to win enough money to escape the family she has been tending since her mother’s death.
A good romance with well developed characters.
Jacob Proffitt
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is second in a series. You don't really need to have read the first, though some of the events are repeated in this one (this book starts prior to the ending of the first so there's parallel timelines). Those repeats aren't at all intrusive or annoying, but some repeated events have more resonance if you've read the first book.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series so I hoped this would be equally engaging despite having a completely different character arc (part of what made the fir
Shabby  -BookBistroBlog
I've never, ever, ever read a story so mesmerizing and Engrossing, I was glued...GLUED to itright from the first word to the last.
I legit Sat in Walmart parking lot for 20 minutes just so I could keep listening to this fabulous tale of Marooned Couple. Full of drama, betrayals, alliances, real life twist, this book kept surprising me on every page, every chapter.


It's hilarious, it's poignant, it's full of sass and sexiness..it's a Perfect story
Set against a reality game show like Survivor, the
Berit Talks Books
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Always fabulous when you find another fantastic author.... this book was sweet as cake 🎂

Kyle is Jake (from the first book in the series) little brother.... it's hard to be the little brother to a huge rockstar, but even harder to be a little brother filled with guilt over a tragic event.... I really like Kyle in the first book, but I liked him even more after this book, seen his more private side...Kenzie was equally likable, and together they really worked.... I appreciated the slow build up o
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Theory of Second Best (Cake #2) by J. Bengtsson

This author is definitely on my radar having delivered yet another interesting and inviting book. This is the second book in the Cake series and while it's also a standalone, I'd still go and read that first because as it is, Cake was fantastic, let alone knowing it was a debut book.

Kyle has always come second best to his rock-star brother, Jake. Let me be clear, that is *not* something he has a problem with. He loves and worships his brot
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This series has my heart!
Bookgasms Book Blog
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shelly, audible

The burn in The Theory of Second Best is slow. Like, really slow. And that’s not saying that the story itself is slow, because it’s absolutely not. It just takes a long time for the romance to set up and then even longer for it to catch fire.

But it was so worth it.

Sooooo worth it.

Because what we get while we’re waiting for that burn to fire up is a completely emotional and compelling back-story. We go back in time to the beginning of CAKE and get a different perspective. And th
Melanie (mells_view)
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written; slow burn romance with a reality show backdrop

Kyle has always been the second, almost as cool, kind of okayest, fiddle to his rockstar older brother Jake. I mean his brother is a rockstar, of course he reaps the benefits he can, but sometimes it still sucks. Hot fan girls Jake's not interested in? Sure, why not? Things change when he's picked as a contestant on a survivor type reality show. Of course he got there on Jake's name, but he wants this for him. He figures he will fail, w
Gina *loves sunshine*
Series binge reading at its finest!!!! book 2 of the Cake series - we finally get inside Kyle's head. At the beginning of the book we do get a retelling of Jake and Casey meeting from Kyle's perspective, plus quite a bit of delving in to his life dealing with guilt and being the other brother! I'm taking a guess that throughout the books in this series - all roads will always lead back to Jake. I think that is what makes this series so unique and endearing, and going to be hard to forget!!

The re
I'm not really sure what to rate The Theory of Second Best. I think somewhere between 3.5 and 4. This is book 2 of the Cake series. I really liked it but it didn't blow me away like Cake did. Cake was fanfuckingtastic. I feel that at times, this book was scratching the surface rather than delving deep when it came to the emotions of our characters and their back stories. I didn't feel as much as I was hoping to. This was still really a fun read and it held my interest from beginning to end. It a ...more

This was a cute read, but not as entertaining as Cake. I found the beginning repetitive, since much of it was already experienced in Cake. I wanted more time after the reality show stopped; the ending seemed rushed in comparison to the rest of the story. Not a bad book by any means though.
Oct 13, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: freebie
FREE on Amazon today (10/13/2017)!
Crazy for Books (Stephanie)
4.5 Bambi Eyed Stars

OMG! I loved it. I laughed so hard. The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because I felt like the story on the Island took a little too long. But not enough that I didn't want to read/listen to the entire audiobook.

This one had me laughing so hard. Kenzie's brothers Colton and Conner as well as Kyle's antic on the island had me laughing out loud and double over often.

The one thing I really like about J. Bengtsson's CAKE series is that the tragedy of their past unfolds
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heavier than I expected, with rich characters, a slow build romance and lots of angst. It’s well written, and flows well. I’m intrigued by the supporting characters, I think I’ll read/listen to the rest of the series. The narration by Andi Arndt and Zachary Weber is fantastic.

Bought from audible
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audios
I loved this one.
It was so entertaining and hilarious.
 photo drving_zpsonuoaong.gif
2.5 stars

Im a little sad, because after "Cake", this one fell in comparison. It wasnt bad, but definitely not as good.

It went more as a survivor's log than a romance, and I expected so much more from it.

Usually, Im all up for flawed characters, that makes them real for me, but in this case, it just annoyed me a little. Specially Kyle. I liked him so much in Cake, but here, his weakness of character made me want to bitchslap him a few times. Besides, he didnt do one single thing that made me bel
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of all, let me say, you need to read this book! And if you haven't done so yet, you need to read the first book too! I am loving this series so much.

I have had a thing for Kyle since Cake and was doing my happy dance when I learnt he was getting his own book . He is a free and easy guy but deep down there's sensitivity and loyalty that will make you swoon. He has lived in his brother Jake's shadow for such a long time that it is second nature to him. And he's content to be there, it is hi
I really enjoyed this story about Kyle and Kenzie. Kyle always felt he was never truly seen because he was always in Jake's shadow and Kenzie kinda lost herself in putting everything into helping care for her siblings and Dad. Joining the reality show is the first time either have done something alone, just for themselves. This story was a slow burn friends to lovers tale. I loved all of the island antics with the cast of the show. This had a highly emotional aspect which was really nailed by th ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I so loved the first book and this book follows in enchantment of the McAllister boys with Kyle, the brother of famous rockstar, Jake. Kyle is close to Jake as he can be, however, he's scheduled to appear on reality TV as a survival contestant. So he leaves Jake's tour to an island full of "interesting" teammates.

Lots of humor and fun situations abound as the reality show sets up. In amongst the two main characters there are family dynamics for both of them and it adds rich layers to a otherwise
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I REALLY enjoyed Kyle & Kenzie!! I did audio on this... enjoyed it way more than book - which I really liked too! The island shenanigans and banter were amazing... I actually laughed out loud several times which I never do! I'm a fan of this series and can't wait to see what's in store for Emma! ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I wasn't into Survivor so 3/4ths of the book is about a survivor type game. Just not my thing. I also wasn't wowed by the hero like in the previous book. I do plan to keep reading the series though. It wasn't bad, just not like book 1. ...more
Jennifer D.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I laughed so much during this book! Kyle is awesome! My only negative is that I wish there would have been more of Kyle and Kensie once they got together but I still loved the book.
The premise of this book had the potential to be so fun and interesting, but it remained a bit lackluster throughout. This follows a similar timeline as Cake, and we get to experience some of the same moments through Kyle's eyes. As we know from the first book, Kyle (Jake's slightly younger brother) is going to be on a reality tv show (think Survivor), and it is there that he meets a girl - this had so many great possibilities! I was so excited to read about their adventures and challenges and t ...more
Kim Carter
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, series
4.25 stars....I looked forward to Kyle's story! I can't say how much I love this McAllister clan (Quinn singing Alvin & the Chipmunks) and want a book for all of them! I know, I know Emma is next, but I'd like Keith & Sam's book! Kyle participates in a reality/game show (may the best man....or woman win) and meets Kenzie. Prior to the show, the impression is that Kyle rides on his brother Jake's coat tails and is somewhat of a manwhore. Kenzie is a very likable character, helping her dad care fo ...more
There is not a book out there that is even marginally similar to The Theory of Second Best! Totally original from the start, this author truly knows how to write one of a kind romances!

The second book in the cake series follows Kyle (Jakes brother) and Kenzie - a small town girl.

This couples meet cute was hysterical as was most of their journey as they met whilst competing on a reality show that was set on a deserted island - think Bear Grylls.

I just loved this book so much! I fell in love wit
Nov 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved Kyle

4.5* for this one and i am still heartbroken about Jake.

I really enjoyed this book and the competition format.
H and h are in a Survivor type reality show on an island. 18 people, 2 tribes, living off the land, and people getting kicked out. There are competitions, alliances, friendships, betrayal and of course...love.
I loved reading more about Jake and Kyle. Also loved the MCs growth. Kyle has always been in his brother's shadow. And Kenzie was a small town girl with no experiences and
*4+ Stars*

This was such a good story! It was interesting visiting this family again and getting to know Kyle and his story. Getting to know Kenzie was great too. The 'Marooned' setting reminded me of watching the early Survivor seasons - and that was fun! The fascinating thing about the McKallister family is that their history is actually pretty grim and these stories are packed full of emotion, but while your emotions are completely engaged, you end up feeling uplifted and happy. I'm looking fo
Miranda F.
I LOVED the first book in this series. It gave me ALL THE FEELS.

This book? Nope.

It was sweet -- our hero and heroine get to know each other when they're on a reality show like Survivor. ...And that was kinda it. There's a little bit of conflict sprinkled here and there, but mostly it felt like a slow story of two people meeting and falling in love.

I may still go read the third in the series (and one of the later books features the same characters from book 1, so I'll definitely read that), but t
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Next in Line (Cake, #6)
  • Shed My Skin (Sons of Sin #5)
  • Rebel Heir (Vancity Villains, #2)
  • Reverse (The Bittersweet Symphony Duet, #2)
  • Love on the Rocks (Love on Tour, #1)
  • Big Deck Energy (Anything for Love, #2)
  • Wicked God (Ruined Rockstars Book 6)
  • Endless: Ty & Zoey (Less Than Zero, #1)
  • Keeping Time (Steelwolf #2)
  • The What If Guy (The Guys Who Got Away, #3)
  • Darling (Darling Devils, #1)
  • Shattered Expectations (Forgotten Legacy, #2)
  • The Hardest Cut
  • Text 2 Lovers (2 Lovers, #1)
  • Lovely Madness (Players #4)
  • Never Lasting (Never Blue #1)
  • Fair Game (Vegas Aces #3)
See similar books…
See top shelves…

J. (Jill) Bengtsson is the bestselling author of the Cake Series. She writes contemporary novels focused on love, humor, passion, and family. Her heroines are strong, nurturing, and quirky while her heroes are what dreams are made of - gorgeous, committed, and in need of a little saving. A native Californian, Jill’s novels are set under the glittering lights o

Other books in the series

Cake (7 books)
  • Cake (Cake, #1)
  • Fiercely Emma  (Cake #3)
  • The Newlyweds (Cake #4)
  • Rogue Wave (Cake, #5)
  • Next In Line (Cake, #6)
  • Grace Note (Cake, #7)

News & Interviews

Longtime readers of thriller and mystery novels often get hooked on a particular series. It’s a good system for everyone involved. The authors...
16 likes · 6 comments