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Winner Bakes All #1

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

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Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

449 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 18, 2021

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About the author

Alexis Hall

50 books10.8k followers
Genrequeer writer of kissing books.

Please note: I don’t read / reply to DMs. If you would like to get in touch, the best way is via email which you can find in the contact section on my website <3

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,329 reviews
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 50 books10.8k followers
March 19, 2021
This is the first book (of three) from my new queer romcom series, Winner Bakes All! It’s set in the world of a competitive British baking show and stars a bisexual single mum and a cinnamon roll hero. There is also kissing & baking & caking. And chocolate & choices & choux. Ahhhhh.

Basically a lot of my very favourite things in life are in this book. :)

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake will be arriving fresh from the oven on May 18, 2021!

Adorable cover courtesy of the fabulous Lila Selle.

Buy links/CWs here: https://quicunquevult.com/books/winne...

Hope you enjoy meeting Rosaline, Harry, & the rest of the Bake Expectations gang! <3
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
January 7, 2022
"It's a baking show. It should be about how well you bake."
"It's a TV show. It's about how well you TV."

I really enjoyed Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake. I had no idea how much I needed a novelisation of The Great British Bakeoff until I read this book, but it was hard to put down. Reading about all the drama and the cakes was a lot of fun, and I was surprised how on the edge of my seat I was over whether the bakes would come out good and who would win. Who knew patisserie could have me breaking out in a cold sweat? 🤣

Others have already pointed this out, but I will reiterate: this is not really a romance so much as it is contemporary. There are two potential love interests, but the heart of the book is more about a single mum in her late twenties trying to figure out her life and stand-up to her snobby parents.

In fact, what I enjoyed most about this novel was the main character's growth. I didn't always like Rosaline and the assumptions she made about others, but I find that so few books show genuine learning and character growth. Rosaline came out of this book-- and the baking competition --a different person than she was when we met her, which I liked a lot.

I loved the juxtaposition of fun banter and cakes with a few more serious themes like class and snobbery. I also liked the message that in the end it doesn't matter if other people think your life has been successful as long as you do. There is, of course, no universal measure of success.

Again, don't read it if you're specifically looking for a romance, though. Out of the two potential suitors here, one is a douchebag I think most readers will see coming a mile away, and even the other didn't seem to have a whole lot of chemistry or much in common with Rosaline.

Didn't matter to me, though. I am on board for Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
June 10, 2022
Hmm... I stuck in the middle of conflict feelings. Could someone like a book so much but also get irritated of some parts and some characters ( yes, douchebag Alain who earned my thousand punch point, I’m talking about you the manipulative gaslighting specialist! )

Let me elaborate my reading experience: at first when I get an arc of this marvelous journey, I thanked my lucky stars and lucky cow powers because Boyfriend Material was one of my favorite romance reads of the last year and I couldn’t wait to go blind to discover new story created by Alexis Hall’s extraordinary mind.

Our main character Rosaline Palmer, stationery shop worker, bisexual 27, single mom. Normally I don’t add sexual orientation when I talk about the character’s attributes but Rosaline’s sexuality takes important part at the story, helping us to understand her relationship with her best friend Lauren and her toxic family relationship dynamics.

Lauren is a supporting, great, witty best friend is also a lesbian and her ex who cheated on her. Yes, things are getting interesting, is it?

But let’s focus on Rosaline’s daily life problems. Rosaline barely makes end meets, financially struggling to provide needs of her lovely 8 years old daughter Amelie. But she’s truly a talented baker. Actually she’s one of the ten contestants of Great British Bake Off’s alternative version: Bake Expectations.

She keeps this as a secret and is forced to lie each week for leaving for daughter with Lauren and her rigid parents who never approve anything she does for her life. She attends the competition and starts defeating her rivalries, gaining more confidence about her baking dreams.

She also finds herself in the middle of love triangle. Parent approved, charming ( looks can be deceiving !!!), landscape architect Alain and shy, kind hearted,sweet , electrician Harry were the competitors. Even from the depictions you can sense which one is her end game but unfortunately Rosaline cannot see which guy is right for her till the end of the story which truly pissed me off.

I wanted to talk about my positive impressions at first: I truly enjoyed smart laugh out loud moments of the book. Instead of abusive, irritating manners of tv producer, I enjoyed the competition parts.

And I wanted you consider this book as women’s fiction, it’s all about Rosaline’s brand new journey, her career choices, her self growing, discovery, learning from her mistakes.

Sometimes Rosaline pushes your buttons with her insecurities, trying too hard to please the people around her but she became a teen mother, kept the baby, learning to be responsible adult at the young age and also never giving up on her own dreams. So she is tolerable and absolutely connectable character.

So you shouldn’t read this book as a romance for not getting disappointed because till the end, Rosaline struggles to see what’s best for her.

I think the most irritating part of the book was the characterization of Alain. I hate him with every fiber of my being and I wished Rosaline might have kicked his brainwashing, controlling ass at the middle of the book so we didn’t have to read his part and see more evidence show how despicable human being he is!

Sweet Harry earned my triple layered chocolate brownie points from me as soon as his character is introduced and I truly resonated with his anxiety problems. I wished to see more chapters about their growing attraction and blooming love story but yes my dreams didn’t come true!

Overall: less romance more personal growth story wasn’t I expected from this story and I fantasized so creative ways to kill Alain which gave me opportunity to exercise my brain cells. But I still enjoyed the baking contest premise. I loved Rosaline, of course Harry, Laureen and Rosaline’s sweetest pie daughter Amelie.
Because of those reasons I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 baking show, homophobia, cruel parents, teenage mom, sweet beginnings, feel good women’s fiction stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing ( Forever) for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,108 followers
May 20, 2021
A thoroughly lovely story of a single mum on an alt Great British Bake-Off, finding her confidence in life, romance, family, and cake as she goes.

It's rather unusual in romance terms, as Rosaline spends a lot of the book in a relationship with the wrong love interest, and we see as much of him on page as we do of the right guy. I'd sort of say it's between romance and women's fiction there. Alain is an incredibly well drawn character, hideously plausible, as is Rosaline's response to him, which makes for somewhat uncomfortable reading because wow do men like that suck. Fortunately Harry is an absolute joy, and I'm kind of sorry we didn't get lots more of him on page.

The cast of characters is massive but so well handled you don't even notice, and make for an absolutely delightful ensemble comedy with lovely dialogue. I particularly liked the incredibly foul-mouthed producer who you think might be villain or deus ex machina but in fact is just doing her job (and gets to deliver the single best murder-by-words insult I have ever read at just the right time. Oof, it's a killer. You'll know.).

A thoroughly engaging, enjoyable story of a woman finding her confidence to be herself.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,857 reviews5,633 followers
June 9, 2021
*3.5 stars*

I had very high expectations going into Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake. First off all, Boyfriend Material was my favorite book of 2020, and I thought it was hilarious, so the promise of another funny book with a bisexual female MC and a take on the Great British Baking Show... man, I was hoping for the moon.

But... when I started reading this book I felt... irritated.

Do yourself a favor and rearrange your expectations (this is what I had to do in order to fully appreciate the story, by the way). Repeat after me: this is women's fiction, not romance. I think that's what tripped me up and annoyed me for so long. The story is all about Rosaline and her own personal journey to figuring out more about herself and her needs. The romance aspect is very underdone and felt half-baked (*ehem*), so if you are impatiently waiting for the relationship to start cooking (okay, I'll stop now), you will be waiting a very, very long time. Sure, there are some sweet elements that happen towards the end of the story, but that's just a bare hint of a true romance and is more in line with what you'd find in a women's fiction story. That's fine, just not what I was anticipating.

Also, Rosaline often annoyed me, I'm not going to lie. I found her personality to be a bit bland and wishy-washy, while also being too pointed at times. I really enjoyed the side characters a whole lot more, and I adored all of them. I even enjoyed the ones I ended up hating, just because they had unique personalities (some of those personalities were simply: wanker). I really liked Rosaline's ex, Lauren, and all of the competitors on the show (and the judges!). The only true laughs I got from the book were from the producer, who is hilariously, aggressively aggravated at all times.

Of course, I loved how Rosaline was bisexual and proud and her child was also proud and aware of that fact. I have a similar parenting style, so it resonated with me. Of course, I loved Harry (he's the best), and wish he didn't have to be shoved aside for so long until his kindness and worth were realized.

The story took me on a journey because I started off not really liking it at all, but once I shifted my mindset, I truly got into the groove with the story and didn't want to put it down. Hard to rate for me, but I think rounding up to 4-stars is the right call.

Another well-written effort from the talented Alexis Hall. I really hope to see more funny and interesting books from him in the future.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

January 25, 2022

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This book was so good that I actually want to cry a little. Before I get into the review, I just want to say that I love watching The Great British Baking Show (or The Great British Bake-Off, depending). Not only do you get to marvel at all the beautiful breads and cakes and pies, but you get so involved in all of the contestants and their stories. When the characters are booted off the show, it sometimes ends up being a really emotional experience for me and my family, who also watch the show. I've noticed that because of the increasing popularity of baking shows, there's been an increase in the number of books about baking shows, but not all of them can capture that magic of character-driven storylines and the connections between food and family--

Until now.

ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE is brilliant. It's about Rosaline, a bisexual single mother who has just been accepted as a GBBS-like contestant on the show, Bake Expectations. While on the show, she ends up capturing the attention of two guys: Alain, the sort of man her parents always hoped she'd meet, who has a posh accent and a plush job, and is at the top of his banter game; and Harry, an electrician who tends to put his foot in it, but is surprisingly soft and awkward for a dude who's built like a bruiser with big honking forearms.

Some people didn't like the love triangle bit but I really did. One of the love interests-- the less optimal one-- reminded me of one of my own exes, and he said and did a lot of the things that happened to Rosaline. Bringing me down to make himself feel superior, always focusing on things about me that needed to be "fixed." It's so easy to make mistakes when it comes to who we're attracted to, and sometimes we don't realize that right away. Part of Rosaline's journey is realizing that she's "enough" just the way she is, and that she deserves better than to be someone's pet project.

The other love interest-- the "good" one-- is just... lovely. He's one of the best beta heroes I've encountered in a while and I just love him so much. I love how Hall made him a working class hero and didn't shame him for it at all, and how all the usual stereotypes associated with that sort of job are totally flipped. He was the best.

But don't get me wrong. This is just a really good story, romance squee aside. There's the reality TV show element, first of all, which is fantastic. Hall totally captures the banter and the set-up that makes The Great British Baking Show so good. Also, Rosaline goes through so much in this book and she comes out as a stronger, more confident person. As someone who is also painfully insecure and a little shy, I find it so empowering to see women like Rosaline learning to stand up for themselves and set up boundaries. It's a really great message to see in romance novels and so moving. I loved Alexis Hall's other book, BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, but I think this one is even better. He just seems to get better and better with each book. I can't wait to read the sequel.

5 stars
Profile Image for Corina.
757 reviews2,127 followers
July 19, 2022
If you loved and maybe binge watched The Great British Bake Off like myself you MUST read this book!!! It gave me all the feels of the show, and reminded me that I have not watched all the seasons yet – shame on me! Also the British humour and the inspiring baking puns take the cake.

The book had some wonderful moments, even great moments, of gentle reflection and wonderful support. I loved those moments the most. It also made me laugh out loud multiple times. And it had all the charm and wit I expect from an Alexis Hall book, minus the heat. It’s a slow burn “romance” more in line with Boyfriend Material than the author’s earlier work. And throughout the story the author made me reflect and think on the matter of gender and queer issues.

Rosaline turned out to be an interesting character, but not necessarily one I liked all the time. In other words she was a hot mess. Rosaline had her issues and doubts, and she made some obvious mistakes. But I also loved how outspoken and self-confident she was about certain issues. She was a relatable character, probably because of her flaws, but her habit of being critical and judgy about everyone and everything became exhausting after a while.

Her judgemental personality, and the way the author tackled some of the bigger issues, felt at times forced, almost like the author tried too hard, and the story turned into a lecture, and stopped feeling like a romance.

Also, I honestly wasn't expecting a story that revolves around a love triangle. I’m not a fan of them. This is my personal preference and I choose not to read them. This one caught me off guard. Although, in this case it kinda worked since the story already didn’t feel like a traditional romance. And it helped that at this point I was already more interested in the baking and the friendships than anything else.

But besides that, what the author really excels at is creating absolutely fascinating characters. Truly, everyone was individually different and memorable. And a highlight of this book was Rosaline’s adorable daughter. I’m a huge fan of the single parent trope, and precocious kids are a weakness of mine. The things that came out of her mouth made me crack up. Her and her “aunt” Lauren were my favorite characters, besides Harry my lovely cinnamon roll hero. As I said before, Alexis Hall knows how to create some fantastic characters. And I’m already looking forward to the next book in this series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

You can find me on my blog and on Bookstagram
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (sick).
346 reviews1,037 followers
February 7, 2023
Who wouldn't love a baking book?

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is pretty entertaining, thanks to Amelie and her big brain. Her retorts and interaction with Rosaline were just humorous. Add that this book also had one of the most structured writings I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, these variables aren't enough to make up for everything I failed to enjoy about it.

To start, I do not fancy the love triangles presented in this book. Although I could find myself compromising since I did come across few love triangle stories that I love, this one just does not seem like it. Especially when the female character spends most of the book with another male lead character, only to end up with the other one towards the end. The end game is well-deserved, but I couldn't find myself feeling connected between the couple due to the few interactions from the start.

But then, despite the structured and organised writing, I still find the prose to be dreary and wordy. A small scene would take up to few pages when it could have been precise and concise. And this is also why the book almost brought me to a reading slump. It progresses painfully slow, I couldn't keep up.

And as much as I love the bisexual representation, Rosaline appeared preachy and (honestly) politically questionable. Like sure, embrace that individuality. However, I couldn't find myself to hit it off with her just from the thought processes. My disapprobation continues with all her time spent with Allain; who from the beginning proved to be an asshole. Like, why when a whole nice Harry was there? Allain is a red flag and she is blind color, meh.

This book has the potential to be likeable. The premise was cute, but the execution was off and overall underwhelming. Not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Erin Henderson .
324 reviews5 followers
March 14, 2021

Okay, so. The biggest thing for me is that the entire book came off way too preachy. Which is frustrating because I absolutely love books that preach equality and diversity and treating people with respect and calling out behaviour you don’t like and consent and all that jazz but do we really need all of it?

It felt like everything was a teaching moment. Every conversation, every interaction was SOMETHING and it got a little redundant to be honest. Like don’t get me wrong, I love an author who includes consent in their books but does it need to be two pages? Rosaline drove me a bit nuts because yes, if someone is outright prejudice then you should call them on it but it seemed like every other conversation she had with someone ended in a “that’s not right” tirade. I hate that I disliked this about the novel because everything she said was absolutely true, but the book was just chock full of it, and it became quite tedious and annoying honestly.
It took away from the main storyline and anytime any character said something remotely politically incorrect I would roll my eyes and think here we go again. Here’s another page and a half monologue. We get it.

So. The premise was cute but I really didn’t like the vibe. I don’t know, I feel guilty saying it but it was all just too much to be enjoyable.

Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,613 reviews240 followers
June 15, 2021
Delightful & Funny!
4.2 Stars 😍
Amazing narration
Bisexual female MC
Low steam
Lots of self-deprecation
Tasty baked goods
Lots of cussing
Slow beginning, but it really picks up
You’re going to want to slap one MC & hug another

Lots of baking and reality show talk—perfect for fans of the Great British Bake-Off!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,811 reviews32.4k followers
May 19, 2021
3 stars

I read and loved ‘Boyfriend Material’ last year, so I was excited to get to Alexis Hall’s newest release Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake. Though this wasn’t near as good for me personally as ‘Boyfriend Material’ it was still a mostly enjoyable read.

Rosaline Palmer is a 27 year old single mom who has joined a british bake off type of reality show. She doesn’t expect to meet a man there, but she does. A fellow contestant. She also makes several friends on the show, but things there don’t turn out quite as planned.

I truly loved the person who Rosaline ended up with and I rooted for them, but the romance was so… weak for me. I mean, I don’t want to spoil things but . My absolute favorite part of this story was any part that Rosaline’s daughter was in. I adored her! Overall, I liked this one but not nearly as much as I expected to. 

Audio book source: Audible (purchased)
Story Rating: 3 stars
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Narration Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 11 hours and 23 minutes

Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,173 followers
May 14, 2021
3.5 stars. I have so many mixed feelings. Alexis Hall is one of my favorite authors. Had this been written by anyone else, I probably would have DNFed but there was enough good that I carried on despite the parts that didn’t work for me. I would encourage anyone wanting to try to go in with eyes wide open. Bear in mind that this is not romance. It's contemporary fiction/women's fiction. It might work best for people who have only read Boyfriend Material or who don't read much romance. It's an exploration of a single mom finding herself, as well as finding love along the way. Oh, and baking some incredible cakes!

Let’s start with the good. Rosaline is a compelling heroine. It was easy to root for her to win the baking competition and to figure out what she wants from her life, apart from her toxic parents’ expectations. Her daughter Amelie was a delight—no plot moppet here. In fact, all of the secondary characters were wonderful, especially Rosaline’s ex Lauren. The baking competition was fun to read about. It felt the most realistic of any baking competition-set story I’ve read, although the verbally abusive producer got to be a bit much. Fans of GBBO should feel like they’re in good hands.

I laughed out loud often and at times very hard. Hall’s signature sense of humor is there in spades and it worked to great effect. Especially during Bread Week. I’m smiling just thinking about that scene. Rosaline is an overthinker and a people pleaser and there’s a content warning (more below) that greatly took me aback so I hesitate to call this light in tone but much of it was enjoyable.

It's hard to discuss the aspects that didn't work for me without some light spoilers so bear this in mind and quit now if you want to stay completely in the dark. If I had known this was women’s fiction going in, I might have struggled less with the main plot choice. Rosaline’s primary love interest for almost 80% of the book is Alain and he is despicable. To be fair, love triangles are one of my least favorite tropes but I’m also not sure this is a real love triangle. Rosaline barely thinks about Harry while she’s with Alain, other than noticing that he’s attractive.

I truly could not understand what she saw in Alain, especially when dreamy Harry was waiting in the wings. I seriously hated him. We’re not meant to like him! But because Rosaline couldn’t see it for so long, whether due to her parents’ approval or because she just fell into the relationship, I started to think less of her. Her arc centers on growing in confidence and this undermined it. I was basically willing her to see his true colors and break things off.

Instead, the reason she breaks things off with him—and this is a spoiler but also a content warning—is due to I’m not keen on this as a plot choice in general but especially not used as a dark moment.

Honestly, Rosaline deserved better. And Harry deserved better! He was off to the side for most of the book being an absolute sweetheart. He clearly was interested in her—not that she noticed—but just tried to be a good friend. She was initially snobby about him being working class, which provided an interesting counterpoint to Alain’s posh ways. Harry constantly upsets her assumptions about him and I couldn’t get enough of it. (He was reminiscent of Darian from Glitterland in some ways.) I really liked watching them become friends and I was incredibly relieved when she finally recognized what she had in him. But poor Harry barely got any page time as the endgame love interest. What we got does still manage to do a lot for their relationship, including some stellar consent and an open door sex scene, though not as explicit as Hall’s Spires or Arden St. Ives series. I wanted more page time for Harry.

I’ve really struggled to figure out how I feel about this book. It’s mostly made me sigh heavily when I’ve thought about it. Because yes, Rosaline and Harry are great together but we barely got to see them in action. Yes, it made me laugh out loud a ton but also Alain was an absolute jerk who should have been shot into the sun much earlier on and I did not appreciate the reason things finally ended between them. I also struggled with the way this handled her toxic parents but that’s a lesser concern in the face of everything else. Not my favorite from Alexis Hall but like I said, he made me turn the pages in spite of my issues.

Character notes: Rosaline is a 27 year old white bisexual single mom and stationary shop worker. Her daughter Amelie is 8. Alain is a white landscape architect. Harry is a white electrician.

CW: sexual assault, gaslighting, mild violence , abusive behavior from TV show producer, biphobia, homophobia (incident with Amelie’s teacher), hero has anxiety, toxic parents, past unplanned pregnancy, past infidelity , gendered insults, alcohol, inebriation, classism, ableist language, brief reference to heroine considering abortion when she found out she was pregnant at 19, reference to heroine’s mother’s work as an oncologist specializing in ovarian cancer

Disclosure: I received an ARC from Forever in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,258 reviews273 followers
August 9, 2021
I finished this in 2 sittings-and only because I wasn't going to stay up until the small hours already sleep-deprived. I'm an adult dammit.

She shifted uncomfortably, trying to work out if she had, in fact, let Amelie define her. And if letting something define you was different from it being the most important thing in your world. And if it mattered?
(SO Much this)

so I had seen many a review on this and silently adjusted my expectations for one of my favorite authors to 'basement-level' and quietly left this print copy I got on release day untouched until yesterday. AND THEN, I thought "I am going to read this first b/c I know Mhairi will not disappoint." Note how I expected to be disappointed? I also expected a heavier than normal main character arc than romance arc, and you know what? Maybe it was the reviews I read, but I kind of disagree.

Yes, the main character arc is heavier than some romances, absolutely. yeah, maybe it goes right up to the line into fiction instead. However, whether it was because I was kind of expecting it, or because I've read Hall too many times not to notice the way he messes with tropes and romance convention, but I'm just not convinced that I still wouldn't put the romance smack dab in the middle of this book. It's an anchor, it's a critical piece central to Rosaline's self-acceptance and frankly, it's swoony as shit in the best way.. It's who I expected, how I expected, and what I expected as a Hall devotee. Where a structure like this on my best of days would bother me because I'm a stickler, the things in this book were essential building blocks on Rosaline's journey.

Or maybe it was the company. Being with someone every who'd seen her house and met her kid and knew what her life was like. Someone who seemed to care about who she was. Not who she should have been.

So much to love here, the flaws and the humor, the entire cast of characters, I just-I guess- I had so much fun spending the weekends with the contestants. And yeah, wouldn't have been mad at 500 more pages.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books351 followers
May 5, 2022
Rosalind Palmer is a single mother of an adorable daughter named Emily. She had to drop out of school when she became pregnant and now is suffering financial issues and so when she has the opportunity to enter a televised baking competition, she jumps at the chance. I LOVED the baking competition aspect of the show. The judging was funny. I loved the interplay between Rosalind and the other contestants and the descriptions of the baking entries were both scrumptious and at times hilarious. There was also a romance aspect to the book. I enjoyed that piece somewhat, though having read another of the author’s books, I can’t say it held the same passion as other relationships she’s written previously. Still, this is a delightful book simply for the baking competition, for Rosalind, who is a lovely character, and the friendships.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,400 reviews11.7k followers
June 14, 2021
3.5 stars

This is another book that is marketed as romance, but isn't really.

In my head, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is chicklit, so everyone should adjust their expectations accordingly. This novel is a cross between Bridget Jones's Diary and The Great British Bakeoff, both of which I am a big fan of. But romantic swoon this book doesn't have a lot of, IMO. There is a couple of romantic interests, one much better than the other, but neither I am super excited about or think the main character has a real future with, and there is one semi-explicit sex scenes. So now you know.

Rosaline Palmer is a 27-year bisexual woman and a single mom who had to abandon her studies when she got pregnant at 19. Her posh parents are not pleased with her or her life decisions. Trying to improve her life, Rosaline decides to enter a baking competition where she meets a couple of guys. This is more of Rosaline's journey of discovering her voice and confronting her parents rather than a love story. And of course there is baking, silly puns, sexual innuendoes and pen!s-shaped bread. I enjoyed all of it, obviously.

I wasn't sure about this book at first, but it grew on me. Looking forward to the next one in the series.

Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,850 followers
May 17, 2021
I definitely had warmer feelings about this story overall than I did about my last few Hall reads but unfortunately most of those warmer feelings kind of depleted over the course of the story. Not because of the events as much as because of certain characters.

When this story focused on some of the secondary cast, specifically Lauren, Harry, and Anvita, it was a great bantery blissful time. When we were in the bake-off segments with the ensemble in addition to all the filming hijinks? Delight. When we were dealing with Alain, or sometimes Rosaline herself? Ugh.

I don't really want to reveal who Rosaline ends up with, especially for those #TeamNoBlurbers who won't read the summary, or for those who might not infer from the synopsis how it all goes down, but. I'm very happy with the end result. It was just quite the journey to get there. And I'm not quite sure Rosaline deserved him, full stop, but also because the way things just fall into place is well.. convenient. For her.

Notably, another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about this story, was that it falls into a common and recent trend of feeling like a very "teachy" kind of book. Lots of discourse about gender stereotypes, important dialogue about biphobia, classism, and more, but not only does it handle that.. it also sorta beats you over the head with it. Both in how it's challenged but also the frequency. Lumped into this were the circumstances of Rosaline's life, her daughter, and so many horses died in the telling and overtelling of that plotpoint. But what made it worse was how inconsistent, and flipfloppy, even Rosaline told it.

Overall Rosaline was just a very flawed character, which is fine, I just wish maybe it had been showcased differently? For all that Alain was a dick, I understood his reasons (except for that one part; that one part is completely not understandable). I didn't understand when Rosaline was also a dick (but I think maybe one specific area I couldn't get was very British-specific in regards to classism that I just don't think we have in my part of the world; at least not in this way). I didn't understand her appeal. She had great friends but.. I don't think she, herself, was always a good friend. We see everyone constantly stepping up for her and rarely does she return the favour. I realize this is her story, not anyone else's, but it feels unbalanced, in a way.

There's definitely a lot to recommend within the pages of ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE. I think a lot of people will like this. It is definitely an easier, more mainstream read, than BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (which I realize I'm biased against, so, I mean, grain of salt). But I can also see people who loved that book also loving this. Mostly I'm just happy that my experience with the other might have been an outlier because for all that this wasn't a win, it wasn't quite a fail, either. In the century that is 2020-2021, we take what we can get.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,535 followers
June 23, 2021
Alexis Hall has always been a hit for me. Somehow despite not being a fan of romances that are heavy on the . . . . .

He is an exception to the rule and his stories don’t make me want to throw my Kindle into a brick wall. He’s also one of the best when it comes to . . . .

Again, often authors attempting to write dialogue phonetically becomes insufferable to me and ruins a potentially good time, but he’s just real good at it. Plain and simple.

I do feel like I need to confess that when it came to television viewing during quarantine, I did seem to miss out on what all of the cool kids were doing and never became a fan of the . . . .

But, as I said before, I love Alexis Hall enough that I didn’t think a story that takes place in a British baking competition would be an issue. I also dig “women’s fiction” or “chick lit” or whatever you want to call it, so I was sure this would be a success.

So what happened???? Well, first off this was very preachy. Let’s just get real. The people who need diversity and equality and what-have-you explained to them would most likely never pick this book up in the first place as soon as they saw “bisexual single mother.” It didn’t take long for Rosaline’s taking offense to nearly everything and over explaining how everyone in the world is apparently a right prick when it comes to being some variation of bigot to grate on my nerves. Especially when she got the googly eyes for a fella who could only be described as . . . . .

It also didn’t help that she jumped right on the bandwagon of fat shaming another member of the competition before she even spoke to her to discover she was actually unlikeable (and a judgey bigot because of course she was).

I understand maybe wanting to dip your wick with a 10 on the bangability scale, but when you’ve spent the entire book talking about how you do everything for your daughter and have put your own plans on the backburner and are a responsible parent 100% of the time you really think this dude is boyfriend material????? Notsamuch.

Not to mention there was A LOT of baking talk (like a lot a lot) and at 440 pages this was waaaaaaaaaay too long for the amount of story to be told. So it ends up as a bit of a flop for me. That’s okay though, because Boyfriend Material and Glitterland and Pansies and a whole slew of others have all been huge winners.

Profile Image for Anniek.
1,761 reviews649 followers
May 14, 2021
I don't really know how to review this book without including spoilers, so look away now if you don't want to know more!

When I started this book, I did immediately click with the main character, the setting, the humour... But we were introduced to a love interest whom I really didn't like from the start. He was bland and boring and a pretentious asshole, and I was really apprehensive to see where the book was going to lead.

I needn't have worried though, because enter Harry. I could write a fucking essay on how much I love Harry and why. Not just because he's such a cinnamon roll, but also because here we have the kind of person who normally isn't seen as the romance hero. Because he's working class and people tend to really look down on him. I absolutely loved seeing the way this was handled.

Because Rosaline spends quite a large part of the book involved with Alain the snobbish dickhead, she and Harry spend most of the book building a genuine friendship. And I loved this, because often in romance novels, I get the shady feeling that the love interest is only respectful towards the main character because he's attracted to her and wants to get in her pants. I often wonder how these men will treat someone who's unavailable to them romantically and sexually and if they'd still treat that person the same. And this is where we learn that Harry is just a genuinely good person. He accepts that Rosaline is in a relationship and builds a genuine friendship with her without expecting more, he's genuinely there for her when she needs him, and most importantly: he's very teachable. Whenever he says something Rosaline isn't comfortable with, he's open to correction and actually listens. I just loved him a lot, okay??

And aside from Harry, Rosaline herself is also a fairly "unconventional" main character in a romance. She's a single mum who had her daughter at 19 years old, and she dropped out of uni. She goes through so much growth throughout the book in terms of choosing the life she wants and not the one her parents want for her, and at the end I was honestly proud of her for how far she'd come.

Rosaline is also bisexual and the book really delves into the casual and more violent biphobia she encounters. Whenever someone says books with an m/f relationship aren't valid queer books, I just want to point them in the direction of books like this, because this book is very much queer because Rosaline is.

If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me while I ramble. I'm sorry I couldn't be more coherent but I just have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,132 reviews1,389 followers
December 10, 2021
I really liked this book, especially for the authentic bisexual representation, its quirky characters, the witty British dialogue, the descriptions of baking (yum!!), and a sweet love story with a surprising working class hero and single mom heroine. Rosaline is a contestant on a Great British Bake Off-like reality show and ends up with a lot of personal growth in terms of working to unlearn her class prejudices and standing up to her parents who have often made her feel not good enough.

The way that Rosaline's queerness is an important part of the story and her character despite the fact that her two love interests in the book are both cis men really resonated for me. She felt very queer and specifically bisexual: she has to deal with her daughter's teacher's casual biphobia, navigate people's reactions to her multi-gender dating history, is BFFs with her ex-girlfriend, and (content warning) deal with a woman sexually assaulting her in the name of a threesome that is the idea of a shitty straight dude. (Sadly that last point is far from far-fetched as bi women have higher rates of being sexually assaulted than both straight women and lesbians).

That said, this book is marketed as a romance, a category which I don't think it really fits into as the love story is more a secondary than a main plot. Rosaline spends 80% of the book dating a "wanker" who I could not wait for her to dump. In fact, I think that aspect went on far too long. I would have preferred much less Alain (said wanker) and more Harry (said surprising working class hero). I'd have rather gone into this book expecting contemporary fiction/chick lit rather than a romance.

I'm definitely going to be checking out the next book in this queer rom com series, especially to see the hilariously foul-mouthed producer of Bake Expectations again.
Profile Image for Aoife - Bookish_Babbling.
297 reviews310 followers
November 22, 2022
I really enjoyed the GBBO feel & side characters – duh…it me 😅

Grace and the other contestants were such hoots, especially Anvita & honestly the bread week craic legit had me snort laughing with the puns + shenanigans 🤣 These side characters possibly saved the read from being 2* for me 🤔
Alongside Rosaline's BFF + kiddo interactions and I guess it did get better as it went on the Gastro pub and walk home was also a good laugh…but again Anvita does most of the heavy lifting from what I can remember soooo 🤷

Rosaline & AP really irked me for much of this read. AP is an absolute 🍆’head and Rosaline carries quite the chip on her shoulder - the snap judgments she makes about people then goes off on them for her perception of them judging her got old fast 🙈
Admittedly NO ONE deserves to be treated the way she is in *the* scene that rightfully gets a trigger warning at the start of the book I was 🤬 raging…just GD 😡
For as much as Rosaline annoyed me initially her growth during the story as she learned to back herself more helped warm my feelings towards her once she got out of her own way. Everything to do with her daughter was adorbs and I have to admit Harry was a sweetheart yet was no doormat, such a great "mate" bless those interactions 🤭

This was a bit of a miss from me MC’wise, but the side characters and GBBO setting mostly made up for it – hopefully this’ll be more of a win for you! 🤞
It does have adorbs recipes "written" by the characters at the end which was a really sweet touch...yes yes I #Dad'd
You're welcome @Linds if you ever read this "review" 🤭
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,415 reviews385 followers
July 23, 2021
4.5 stars

Brit Bake Off vibes
Banter for days
Charmed to the hilt

If I could describe my reading experience of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake in one word, I would say charming. The characters were just simply a delight to sink into. They were messy, flawed but they were also incredibly endearing and a bucket load of funny.

I'm 100% a 'Bake Off' fan so this reimagining of a British TV Show in a similar vein was always going to speak to my fandom and it delivered completely. I loved the baking scenes in the competition alongside the behind-the-scenes elements. I grew to love Rosaline as a character, to cheer for her crawl out from the weighty expectations of her parents and she was doing a great job of the mother-juggle. Her bisexuality was such an issue for some people and this book really explored other people's perceptions, expectations and some rather hideous elements to that.

"It's me. I've done it. I've made a penis. I've made an enormous bread penis. Someone always makes a penis. And this year it's me who made the penis."

The two guys of the piece, Alain and Harry really altered my allegiances and expectations along the way. A lot of what happened with them was unexpected in the main and I loved how that story played out. Amelie, Rosaline's daughter was a super-intelligent and outspoken eight year old but I did enjoy her character.

This book bantered me from front to back, I highlighted so much that it would take an essay to share them all but you won't be disappointed at the dialogue and Rosaline's inner monologue. As with all Alexis Hall's offerings, everything about this book was quintessentially British and I love his style of bringing different British types of characters, accents and speech to the page.

And Rosaline tried very hard to keep her face ungifable.

I'm pretty enamoured with this book and I can see myself returning for a re-read. This story is definitely on my contemporary 2021 favourites line-up.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.

Find this review at A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,041 reviews3,440 followers
June 14, 2022
4.5 stars

A bisexual, British, baking romance! Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake was excellent, and is one of the best romances I've read in terms of unpacking bisexual identity and pushing back on biphobia and bisexual stereotypes. It's also funny and has a cozy baking competition!

Rosaline Palmer is a bisexual single mom with an 8-year-old daughter (she's hilarious, and pretty nearly accurate for that age). I would say this book leans a bit more into women's fiction than romance. There IS an hea, but she spends a lot of the book dating the wrong guy. Plus, her character arc is really about learning to stand up for what she really wants in life instead of feeling bad that she hasn't lived up to her parents expectations. It's a lovely story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Note that there is a scene of attempted sexual assault on page. I appreciated how it was handled though and how it was used in terms of the themes of the book. But not everyone will want to read that.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
June 18, 2021
3.5 stars.

In Alexis Hall's new book, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake , a young mother hopes participating in a TV baking competition might be the key to a new path for her future.

Rosaline is a single mother of a precocious young girl. She wants to give her the perfect life, but that’s not easy—she has a low-paying job, and her parents don’t approve of that, nor are they comfortable with her bisexuality. They do provide her financial assistance and babysit her daughter, but they never let her forget how much they're helping her.

But she has a plan. She’s going to compete on Bake Expectations , a television baking show, and she hopes the exposure—especially if she wins—will change her life and her daughter’s for good.

Of course she’s utterly unprepared for the rigors of a television show, and with baking requiring the utmost focus, she worries she’ll be quickly eliminated. She also finds herself in a relationship with fellow contestant Alain, who is handsome and talented with a definite arrogant streak, while she becomes more curious about Harry, another contestant, a salt-of-the-earth, sexy electrician who’s not quite politically correct.

I loved Alexis Hall’s last book, Boyfriend Material , so my expectations were pretty high for Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake . There were things I really enjoyed—I’m obsessed with cooking/baking shows, so I loved that element, and wanted more, in fact. I love the way Hall treated Rosaline’s bisexuality, as there aren’t many main characters out there who are bi, and I also loved the book's acknowledgement of anxiety-related issues.

I did think, however, the book was way longer than it needed to be. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles when one character is particularly odious, and I felt the parental disapproval seemed a little one-dimensional. And while I thought Rosaline’s daughter’s view on the world was adorable and refreshing, a little goes a long way with precocious children.

Still, I had fun reading this and really enjoyed my buddy read with my friend Phil. (He loved it more than I did.)

NetGalley and Forever provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,676 reviews1,011 followers
May 18, 2021
I've given this a B+ at AAR, so 4.5 stars

The first thing I’m going to say about this book – which I enjoyed very much – is that while it’s as clever, wonderfully observed and laugh-out-loud funny as Alexis Hall’s other books, and there is an HEA at the end, the focus is more on Rosaline and her journey towards acceptance and coming into her own than it is on the romance.

I reviewed this one with my good friend and fellow All About Romance reviewer Em Wittmann; we're both big Alexis Hall fans and you can read our review here: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,334 reviews226 followers
December 26, 2021
Reread December 2021

This is definitely one of my favorite romance reads of the year and I'm pretty sure that I'm ready to commit that this is my favorite book that features a baking competition. It is just so well done in the way that it connects both baking and character development and romantic subplot etc. I think I like this book so much because it is so closely related to the Great British bake off and when I say that I mean literally. The judges and the hosts and the way the competitions are set up and the finale all are basically drawn from the schedule and format of GBBO. I personally love that. I love that the bakes get attention and there's enough actual baking content without feeling overwhelmed. It's cute and quirky and everything that GBBO is.

While this book has romance in it I stand by the fact that this book is more about Rosaline coming into her confidence and believing that she deserves to stand up for herself.

It also features one of my favorite sex scenes. It is near the end of the book and there is so much consent in communication and discussions happening during it that it felt like romanticizing realism and I think that that is really important. A lot of the times sex scenes are written in a way that makes everything seem so perfect and I think it's really important to showcase that sex doesn't always go the way you want it to and that it's okay to talk and communicate during it to figure out what yourself and your partner enjoys. Open honest communication should be a part of sex and I really appreciated that the end scene had all of that.

This is also a great book for any of my fellow sex repulsed friends. This book is fade to black in the explicit scenes and while there are mentions of sex during the book they're never in depth or fully explicit.

Original review:
Oh my gosh y'all this is exactly the type of book I adore. It's beautifully queer, has loads of amazing characters and a handful of asshole ones, a squishy cinnamon roll man hunk of a love interest, and a crap ton of baking. I will note that I am slightly obsessed with the great British bake off and I am a baker, so while I adores the huge amount of time spent focused on baking, it may not be for everyone.

Bisexual single mom MC, m/f relationship, secondary lesbian character, secondary queer characters

CW: biphobia, attempted sexual assault, internalized sexism, mentions of anxiety, explicit sex.
Profile Image for Bizzy.
359 reviews
July 12, 2022
I recently re-read parts of this book and now I’m mad about it.

The author has touted this book as an exploration of heteronormativity in romance and claims his sex scenes are subverting common tropes.

In reality, though, he’s managed to totally center the male characters by focusing entirely on where their penises go. The key question with both of Rosie’s partners is how they react when condoms aren’t available. One runs off to get a condom, the other explains to Rosie that you’re not required to have PIV sex. Rosie doesn’t express her own desires in either scene; whether PIV happens is solely down to how the male characters react to the lack of condoms. We don’t even know if Rosie wanted to have PIV sex in the last scene or not, only that she was worried about not being able to offer it to her male partner.

In other words, the female character is never given any agency and is simply there for the male characters to react to. Truly subversive and groundbreaking work there.

Realizing that PIV sex isn’t the only real sex is step one in the process of rethinking societal norms around sex. Giving your female character actual thoughts about the subject would have been step two, but this book doesn’t actually get there. (The weird assumptions that only queer people know how to have non-PIV sex do not count.)

A male author coming into the genre to enlighten all us dummies about how actually, it’s okay not to put the penis in the vagina and you should look for male partners who know that isn’t subversive or even interesting. There’s tons of romance written by women who write sex as an enthusiastic activity shared by two partners who feel safe to express their desires and care about meeting each other’s needs. I suggest Alexis Hall go read some of that before trying to subvert any more sex tropes.

Also, there aren’t enough eyerolls in the world for a male author who writes a blog post about how he decided he could finally squint at the concept of women writing gay romance in the right way and has therefore deigned to accept it in some circumstances, and then turns around to write queer women without even a hint of introspection about how his previous criticisms of female authors might apply to himself. (Or, you know, might not actually be valid.)
Profile Image for Mae - Twice Upon A Book.
498 reviews165 followers
March 30, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley and Forever for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

CW: biphobia, attempted sexual assault/date rape, classism, discussions of abortion

Boyfriend Material was probably my favorite read this year, making this one of my most anticipated reads of the year. High anticipation is always dangerous because it sets crazy expectations. The premise of this book is amazing and it is so well executed. As someone who finally got into the Great British Bake Off during the pandemic, this was the perfect book.

I adored Rosaline. She was human, concerned with others' opinions, and still trying to figure out her life. Raising an amazing daughter as a single mom, best friends with her ex. She's not perfect, but she's happy. I loved her voice. Alexis Hall's writing is always snappy, full of dry wit and this book did not disappoint. I was constantly laughing. I loved the use of the baking show as the framework for the book, it was well done and made following the story so easy.

I was so pulled into the story. Nervous about Rosaline's performance. The stress as she tried to practice her recipes when she was home. Would she win this challenge. I could not put this book down. All of this is to also say, this is Rosaline's story. This is a fiction book with a romance subplot. I was reading waiting for the romance and it was just not unfolding like I was expecting it to. I think going in knowing this would have changed my experience.

This book isn't so much of a love triangle as starting off with a red-herring of a LI, who is a jerk plain and simple. The plot with Alain pretending he was the LI went on for too long, in my opinion. While Harry was sweet, I don't think he was on the page enough for me to become invested in him. I was more invested in Rosaline's outcome on the show than her romantic outcome. Harry just didn't connect with me, which made their jump into a relationship seem a bit rushed.

Overall I adored this hilarious read and will continue to read anything Alexis Hall puts out, he is so talented.

Rating: 4
Steam: 3 (completely closed door until the last few pages)
Profile Image for Sarah Swann.
729 reviews987 followers
November 9, 2021
This was SO much fun! I loved the setting of a baking competition reality show. The characters were adorable and I loved the drama and how it unfolded. The daughter character kind of drove me nuts, I wanted to her to stop talking so much and being so strong headed. But it wasn't enough to knock off a star for me. It was just such a fun time and I'm very excited this is becoming a series. And now I want to go watch the newest season of The Great British Baking Show.

Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free galley of this book!
Profile Image for Gretchen Alice.
1,049 reviews91 followers
March 1, 2021
Intensely good and incredibly hilarious. Really manages to capture the spirit of GBBO in its own way. It didn't feel traditionally romance-y in that Rosaline spends more of the book with the obviously wrong choice, but the hero was very delightful. And Rosaline is great!

Also, this book has the best reader's guide questions I've ever seen. Ever. Let more authors write their own candid book discussion questions. Here's an example: "The giant marble run with the magnets that the Palmers buy for Amelie is real. How much do you want one?" My answer: I want one real bad.
Profile Image for book bruin.
1,138 reviews282 followers
May 16, 2021
3.5 stars

This was such a fun read! I can’t tell you how hungry I was while reading about all the deliciousness these characters bake up. Definitely don’t read this one on an empty stomach! Halfway through, I was overcome with the need to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies (no complaints from my family LOL)

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake had lots of laughs and also serious moments too. I thought it was balanced really well and the format of breaking the chapters into the weeks of the competition was a great detail. The secondary characters were absolutely wonderful and I especially loved Anvita, Lauren, and Amelie. They stole the show any time they were on the page and little Amelie had me laughing so hard. I really enjoyed the mix of romance tropes (single parent, forced proximity, friends to lovers), but the real love story was between Rosaline and herself. I appreciated and found her struggles and challenges so relatable and was rooting for her the entire way. Her reckoning with her parents was especially moving. I did feel that the pseudo love triangle between her, Alain, and Harry went on for far too long however, and would have preferred more time be spent on Harry and Rosaline connecting. Their romance showed up so late in the book that it felt awkward and unbelievable. Overall, this was an entertaining read and I look forward to seeing what's next in the series.

Audiobook Review
Overall 4 stars
Performance 4.5 stars
Story 3.5 stars

Fiona Hardingham's narration was wonderful! Listening to the audiobook felt more immersive than reading alone, and the changes in inflection and tone made it very easy to distinguish between characters. The performance was clear and crisp, though sometimes a bit overdramatic. Fiona Hardingham is a new to me narrator and this was a very pleasant listening experience.

CW: gaslighting, attempted sexual assault, biphobia, anxiety, classism

*I voluntarily read and listened an advance review copy of this book*
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