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Cake #6

Next In Line

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Nobody puts Quinn in a corner.

Just six years old when my brother was snatched off the street, I grew up in the aftermath of tragedy. While other kids were happily playing in the sandbox, I was hiding under press conference podiums listening to my parents beg for Jake’s safe return.

People ask if I’m screwed up after what happened, and I never know how to respond. Life after the kidnapping is all I’ve ever known. Well, that and being the youngest brother to a rock star. Jake was the ultimate survivor. The prodigal son. My king.

But I’m not that worshipful kid anymore, and I’m tired of walking a step behind. I’ve got the talent. I’ve got the drive. And now I’m coming for Jake’s throne.

What to do with a runaway rock star in my passenger seat?

Jess of yore would’ve jumped at the chance. Hell, she’d already be in his lap by now. She was fearless and fun and sexy. She lived like there was no tomorrow… until tomorrow came calling and delivered her an ultimatum: repent or risk losing it all.

And so responsible Jess was born, the good girl who paid her rent and watered her plants and put others before herself. The new, improved version of myself represented stability and a roof overhead. Yet sometimes… sometimes I missed that reckless girl. Wild Jess. God, she’d been so fun.

And now Quinn was here, built like a god and asking me to play. One mindless afternoon of fun. Surely I could spare that for a future rock legend. I could bring old Jess back for just one day.

What could possibly go wrong?

450 pages

Published June 1, 2021

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About the author

J. Bengtsson

28 books1,463 followers

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 of the West Coast entertainment industry.
They are for the dreamer in all of us.

Jill resides in Ventura County, California. She’s married to the Swedish boy she met as an exchange student her junior year in college and they have three children, a golden retriever, and two ragdoll cats.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales by J. Bengtsson by signing up for her newsletter https://jbengtssonbooks.com/newsletter

For more Cake experiences, check out the audiobooks.

The audiobook series feature top narrators by Andi Arndt, Joe Arden and Zachary Webber.

*Cake A Love Story was nominated for an Audie Award for Best Romance of 2018.





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Displaying 1 - 30 of 183 reviews
Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,731 reviews1,297 followers
June 13, 2021
Oh my goodness, I'd forgotten how crazy I am for the McKallister clan.

I don't know how it's possible to have forgotten now that I settled back in to their affectionately barbed banter, and flawed but fierce love for each other, but my utter adoration of them came back quickly and wholly while I sat completely enthralled between the pages of this book.

You guys. I freaking love this freaking family so freaking much! GUHHHH.

Jess and Quinn were two misfit pieces that somehow fit perfectly together. I adored the effortless way they connected. I loved their offbeat meet-cute and the incorrigible way Quinn pursued her. I loved how vulnerable they were able to be with each other while they exuded strength and fortitude to the rest of the world. I loved them so much more than I was counting on loving them - and that's saying something.

While the connection between Jess and Quinn was rather insta in nature, it actually took a while for the romance to heat up in this story. That had no impact on my enjoyment of the story itself, or these two as a couple. Maybe it's because I fell so easily back into the dynamic of the McKallister family and Quinn's personal journey was just as important to me as the romantic aspects of it were.

There were definitely some emotional gut punches (some that I did not see coming) that left my heart feeling a little raw. I think this might be the magic of a J. Bengtsson book: balancing the lightness and humor against the heaviness of some of the plot points and dark turns the story takes. It never fails that she ultimately delivers an amazingly lovely tapestry that manages to be emotionally satisfying and interesting, even as it smatters bruises and bumps upon your heart. Magic.

This series has just been absolutely phenomenal and Next in Line fell right in line. I adored the steadiness of Jess and Quinn's feelings for each other. I loved their playfully affectionate dynamic and their beautiful wounded hearts. I loved how their story threaded in with the over-arching backstory for the McKallister family and how seamlessly all the storylines seemed to weave together. It was simply heartfelt, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming brilliance - and another effortless five stars for me. ~ Shelly
Profile Image for Claire Annovazzi.
788 reviews36 followers
May 31, 2021
Well, that was one eventful read! It went everywhere I didn’t expect it. Knowing the series–and the McKallister family–I knew there would be drama. I knew there would be fun times too. And some sweet sexy times.

What surprised me is that, on top of the past drama and trauma, there was a new one. It could have been more developped though. It was dealt with too fast for my taste. But it lead to some beautiful–even meaningful–scenes.

I really enjoyed how Jess and Quinn meet. It was fun, original, and with some delightful banter. After such a first meeting, you can’t easily deny the connection that formed between them. But I also really enjoyed how it wasn’t enough to start a relationship, and that they needed a bit of growing up and changing to really connect afterwards.

That’s basically the crux of the story. They both have to change, evolve, for them to be together. And then they have to learn how to be together. Their situation–with Jess a few years older and with a kid, and Quinn just at the beginning of his stardom–isn’t easy. And when it becomes easier, BAM! A great twist that threatens to change everything.

We learn more about the dynamics inside the McKallister family, their past, their secrets. Things that weren’t revealed yet in the previous books in the series. That makes it a great rockstar romance in itself, but also a great Cake novel.


- Series: Cake #6 (can be read as a standalone)
- Hashtags: #rock star romance #instalove #troubled past #single mother
- Triggers: mention of kidnapping, child abuse, child rape, PTSD, suicide attempts, violence (see book 1); mass shooting, deaths and injuries, mention of substance abuse, depression
- Main couple: Jesse Bello & Quinn McKallister
- Hotness: 3/5
- Romance: 4/5
- + I loved the connection between Jess and Quinn
- – I thought some interesting elements were skipped and put into ellipsis
Profile Image for Jo - •.★Reading Is My Bliss★.•.
2,377 reviews204 followers
June 1, 2021
Quinn has a dream to be a famous singer/songwriter, he wants to be bigger and better than his older brother Jake. Here’s the thing though, what Quinn really wants is to be noticed, acknowledged and recognised for his talent - without anyone linking it to his family back story. If you’ve read any of this series you will know what I’m talking about but it does get covered off if this is your first piece of Cake.

Jess has a busy life, some days she has to remind herself why she needs to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. She has two jobs, one hosting celebrity bus trips around Hollywood going past the homes the stars live in and the other as a rideshare driver, like Uber. It is the latter job that brings Quinn into her life.

Quinn has made it to the top 10 contestants in the Next in Line reality show. He is proud of making it this far on his own merit. However, after being blind sided by the producers he decides to walk away from the door that this show is holding wide open for him. Instead he climbs through another one, in fact it’s a car door being driven by Jess.

‘Jess’s sparkle caught me completely off guard. She was beautiful in that way people who truly knew themselves were. There was a depth to her that intrigued me. She was confident and guarded, but also relaxed and upbeat. It was an interesting mix of personality traits, yet somehow they all worked together to create Jess, the world’s most perfect getaway girl.’

Jess is initially reluctant to help Quinn but there is something about him and his desperate need to get away from something that has her agreeing to be his driver for the day. This turns out to be one of the best decisions she has made in recent times. The synergy between Jess and Quinn is palpable. They share a day that neither of them will forget. It is one of those moments in time where everything just seemed to align and they both just knew that if they gave into the magic, something amazing would be waiting for them.

‘Jess was someone I could see myself with, not just for a night but for life.’

‘Jess had flicked a switch inside me. With her I didn’t feel like I was crawling around in the dark. I had to know why. I had to see this through.’

‘It wasn’t just the way he looked or the things he did to me to slay me. It was that I wanted him right down to my core. I’d never been so sure of anything in my life.’

Jess knows that Quinn is on the verge of stardom and she can’t afford to be distracted with what could potentially be an all consuming relationship with him. She knows what she needs to put her focus on and as much as she wants to explore this incredible connection, for now she will have to pass. All Quinn has is her first name and a mobile number she won’t answer or reply to messages on. His exit on Next in Line brings him into the public eye and as Jess predicted, everyone wants a piece of him. His future looks promising but he cannot get Jess out of his head, thus begins the search for his getway girl Jesserella.

‘Quinn wasn’t just going to be something someday, he was going to be the thing. The man I’d spent the day with was on the cusp of greatness, and I couldn’t, in good conscience, not get a taste of his splendour.’

There are so many layers to this story that I haven’t even touched on in my review. It was such an addictive story and I could not put it down. This is part of the Cake series but can be read as a stand alone. I’ve read most of the stories in this series and really loved being back in the McKallister clan.
Profile Image for Reckless Readers.
1,707 reviews84 followers
May 21, 2021
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I hate to say this because I've been looking forward to Quinn's book and this entire series is one of my favorites, but god...this was my least favorite book in the Cake universe.

This book was very insta-love and, while that worked for Jake and Casey, it fell flat for Quinn and Jess. I think the reason why it worked for Jake and Casey was because there was such a deep emotional connection you could feel down to your gut. There were so many instances of the two of them getting to know each other on a deeper, honest level, that you could feel the chemistry coming off the pages. With Quinn and Jess there was a really good time for a few hours and then BAM. They were both just instantly in the I-don't-know-how-to-live-without-you-please-stay-with-me-forever stage. It felt more like strong lust than strong love. It also made me feel like Quinn was just latching on to the first girl that made him truly smile and it wouldn't really matter who it was. It could be Jess or any of the other millions of girls in the world.

Jess came across as very immature when it came to her secret. I wish I could say what her secret was, but even though you find out early on, I don't want to spoil it. I just felt like she said one thing and she had a strong conviction with it for a short period of time, but then as soon as Quinn popped up she was like, "Oh, nevermind. What I want right now is more important." I've been in a similar situation when my parent's divorced and it was really hard for me every time the situation would change. So maybe that's why Jess and that whole situation was a tough pill for me to swallow. I would have liked this book more if she had compromised on that (not given up, just compromised for a while) instead of going all in because the way she did it could have been so traumatizing.

I really liked the end. I honestly was not expecting that to happen and it had me all in my feelings and I let loose a few tears. I don't cry often in books when a lot of people say they do, but that was just heartbreaking. I felt like the ending was the most complete, well rounded part of the entire book. Unfortunately everything else just felt so disjointed and there are A LOT of time jumps. We really don't get much of the band forming or rise to fame aspect, so it's more of a background situation than anything. I was disappointed in that because I felt like that was Quinn's time to shine and it felt like he got a little robbed of that. That epilogue though. Oh man. That had me smiling very wide.

Overall, I am clearly in the minority which is honestly a good thing for everyone else, but sucks for me. I still love the whole series, the whole McKallister clan, and everyone in between. I cannot WAIT for Grace's story. The set up for that was AMAZING.

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

**Review by Jaime**
Profile Image for Lori R..
1,239 reviews56 followers
February 27, 2022
Like the other books in this series, this one was outstanding. Loved it!!!! Another winner in one of my all-time favorite series!

Next in Line was another beautifully penned story about another beautiful McKallister family member that had ALL THE FEELS. I’ve been wanting to read/listen to this one for a long time now. I’m so glad I finally did!! My Cake is complete...for now.

In true J. Bengtsson fashion, she gave me a highly enjoyable, unputdownable read with humor, heart, and passion.

The emotions…felt them.
Tears…they sometimes made an appearance.
Laughed…did that. A lot.

The McKallister family feels like your own, like you belong. You WANT to belong. It’s like the pages reached out and wrapped me in a big, warm hug, welcoming me back, making feel like I’m an honorary member. I love ALL OF THEM.

Quinn McKallister is the youngest boy in that quirky and loyal and loving family. Feeling like he’s always in his rock star big brother’s shadow, he tries to find himself. Tries to figure out how to be his own person, how to find his own success, how to be separate.

And after one chance/surprise car ride later with the charming and intriguing Jess, his journey begins. What a wild ride it was. But then, much too soon, she’s gone in the blink of an eye.

The search for Jess, aka Jesserella, was fun and entertaining and adorable and I couldn’t have loved it more. The love and devotion she had for her son Noah was heartwarming and made the mom in me girl crush on her even harder. Quinn’s dedication and determination made me fall for him even harder. He. Is. Everything. I didn’t think I could love another McKallister as much as I love Jake. I was wrong.

This story gave me everything I wanted, it was everything I needed. I couldn’t have loved it more.

Again, I am blown away by another amazing story in this series that has been a favorite since I started it back in 2018. It’s like coming home, feeling like you’re a part of it, like you never want to leave.

Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,921 reviews820 followers
June 4, 2021
I’ve learned a few things from reading the Cake series by J. Bengtsson; never judge a character by their previous actions, always expect an emotional ride, always expect the unexpected, trust Jill to deliver the happily ever after the reader craves and the characters deserve. Once again Jill delivers in Next In Line and she does it with two characters meeting by fate and discovering that having someone by your side who doesn’t judge, who understands your past and can sympathize, and someone who absolutely has your back no matter what is exactly what they’ve been missing and didn’t even know it.

Quinn McKallister was just 6 years old when his brother Jake was abducted at gun point by a serial killer, imprisoned, and tortured for a month. All Quinn knew was that his life changed in an instant. His mother was either screaming, crying, or sleeping drugged out of her head. His dad was always out looking for Jake. His oldest brother smelled funny when he was around but gone more than he was home. His big sister was busy trying to take care of his mother and while at times was there to help feed him and his baby sister, she wasn’t nice about it. His other brother looked like a monster and was upset all of the time. It was just him and Grace and at age 6, he had no idea what was going on because no one explained it just that Jake had left and everyone he loved was changed except for Grace. He was so angry and has always blamed Jake for the way his life changed and while he knows his musical talent is just as good as his brother, he doesn’t feel he’ll ever measure up. Quinn’s life just hasn’t panned out the way he hoped and he thought going on a reality talent show would get him recognized, little did he realize it would, but maybe for all the wrong reasons.

Little did Jess know when she turned on her RYde app, her second job after Angel Tour taking tourists on a tour of the stars homes that she’d meet someone who would change her life forever and for once for the better. She had her doubts, almost putted away more than once, but there was something in the man’s demeanor, in his eyes, in the way he spoke to the famous man trying to reason with her that made her want to take a chance and be his getaway driver.

There was something special in those first few chapters between Quinn and Jess and while they had chemistry it was more. It was the fact that Jess asked Quinn about himself, she asked him what he wanted from life, she made him felt seen and in that moment it was easy to see that the scars from his past began to heal. From that first day they both shared so much about their past, their feelings, the mistakes they made that there was no doubt this was going to be one of those couples that could get through anything and then one phone call and Jess was gone and it was weeks before Quinn found her again and found that she’d been hiding a pretty big secret.

I loved these two together; I think it was their open, honest, and frank conversations from the start as well as their quick retorts with one another that sealed the deal. There was no going back and while I knew something would happen to pierce the happy bubble they were living in, I was a bit shocked at first. I trusted Jill that it would be okay, but for a minute I was in disbelief that it happened.

The entire McKalliser family embraced Jess from the minute they met her, it was easy to see that while overwhelmed this was the type of family she always wanted and I was so happy for her and you could see her blossom. It was also easy to see Quinn grow when instead of wanting to best his brother; he worried more about how he could be what Jess needed in a partner.

A rock star on the rise, a sassy, smart heroine, so many obstacles thrown their way and through it all they find the kind of love they both craved but weren’t really sure they’d ever get. I loved Next In Line, my most anticipated release of 2021 and it exceeded my expectations and they were really high. I can’t wait to for Grace’s story.

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Gina *loves sunshine*.
1,857 reviews69 followers
June 22, 2021
Once again i enjoyed being back with the Mcallister Family!! Another piece of the sibling puzzle added in. Quinn is the youngest boy and part of the sibling duet that were really young when Jake was kidnap - shows how much one situation can effect anyone, anywhere. Loved the story of Quinn and Jess it had a lot of fun and cute moments. The relationship and banter and getting sucked in emotionally is my favorite thing about this series and author!!

Looks like I will have to check out the book Like the Wind, had no idea it was a tiny spinoff from this series. Good because I will need something to tide me over until Grace's book which doesn't come out till next year!!!!!
Profile Image for Karen.
5,229 reviews54 followers
June 4, 2021
Loved it! Book of the Year for me ! I just love the series! I laughed, I cried, I dropped my jaw, and got all the feels from reading this book. Its a must read. Soon you'll want to read them all. Start with Cake. Its always best to start with CAKE. Lol
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,422 reviews742 followers
December 23, 2021
Bengtsson has created a dream set of rockstar with softer hearts and steely courage. What a fabulously sexy talented this McKallister clan is. After having gone through a horrendous tragedy when the boys were young, Jake got the larger share of attention while others, like Quinn, were left terrified and hanging to the pants of the father's leg. That scene itself would break your heart 😰
Now they're grown up but are still carrying the broken shards of psyche within, all he while Presenting a normal façade on public.
But there's hurt buried deep within which refuses to go away and the pressure is becoming too much to bear.
Bengtsson catches the perfect mood of melancholy and frustration with her carefully word prose. Her treatment is sympathetic, healing process becomes the focal point as compassionate Jess is introduced. Though she's the elusive Jesse-rella, being searched for by the Rock-Prince Quinn McKallister, it's the Princess who saves the prince with unquestionable loyalty and forever support.
I'm deeply involved with this clan now and will focus on the rest of the family now, one by one.
The narrators are the Queen Andi Arndt and Zachary's gravelly undertones provide a new dimension to the tortured soul
Bang up narration was such a pleasure listening to it
5 stars for Angel Tours
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Profile Image for Tanya (Girl Plus Books).
973 reviews76 followers
June 1, 2021
4.5 Stars

As the next to youngest McKallister, Quinn had no memories of before. Before his brother Jake was abducted and returned home broken and forever changed. All he remembers are the dark days when Jake was gone and Quinn seemed to fall through the cracks of his fractured family. And he remembers after, when he continued to feel unseen, and as if he had to be extraordinary to get their attention. A gifted musician in his own right, he is still living in the shadow of Jake's incredible stardom, and struggling to forge his own path.

My siblings and me all adapted to our new normal in our own unique ways. Jake screamed. Keith lost himself in drugs. Kyle got friendly with knives. Grace morphed into Pollyanna. And Emma just folded in on herself. My method of coping had always been to silently seethe.

Enter Jess, a woman who knows something about feeling invisible within her own family. Never put first by her parents (or anyone in her family), Jess still holds fast to those she loves, even when they might not deserve it. The reformed wild child now plays by the rules and knows all too well that actions can have long-lasting consequences. But one encounter with Quinn McKallister has her wanting to take a chance on a guy that is obviously destined for the spotlight.

Quinn, despite the outward appearance of having an easy life handed to him on a silver platter, is determined to break free from the shadow of his brother Jake and make a name for himself in the music business. But being a success isn't enough - he has to eclipse Jake's mega stardom. But so far his rise to the top has been marred by one disappointment after another. It's at a pivotal moment in his career when he has a chance meeting with Jess and they spend the day together. Then, just like Cinderella, she's gone in a flash and he has no way to find her. But once he does... look out. Because despite her best intentions, and her better judgment, Jess can't resist and these two turn their instant connection into something even more.

Something I love about Bengtsson's storytelling is that while the lives her characters lead may sometimes be extraordinary, they never feel elevated or untouchable. They are ordinary people with pasts that have shaped them, with frailties and insecurities, with flaws and hopes and dreams - and that's what makes them feel so utterly real and relatable. Quinn's struggle to find his footing - in life and within his family - was heartbreaking; and his anger and resentment of Jake was hard to watch when it could not be contained. The scenes between Quinn and Jake were my favorite moments in the book and the ones that had me sniffling back tears. Another highlight was Quinn's relationship with his sister Grace, the youngest of the McKallister's. The close bond they shared was so touching and was shown to perfection throughout the story.

I realize I'm not saying much about Jess but I don't want to give too much about her story away. This girl was no shrinking violet and I loved her quick mind and even quicker wit. She was strong and independent and resourceful, and determined to do right by those she loved. And the banter between she and Quinn did so much to bring them to life. These were two people who just got each other. It was apparent from their first meeting, and the way they joked and teased helped form a closeness that they both needed in their lives.

Jess's sparkle caught me totally off-guard. She was beautiful in that way people who truly knew themselves were. She was confident and guarded, but also relaxed and upbeat. It was an interesting mix of personality traits, yet somehow they all worked together to create Jess, the world's most perfect getaway girl.

As with the other books in the series, Bengtsson delivered twists that I never saw coming and one in particular made my heart drop. That event felt timely and, sadly, all too realistic and gave the latter part of the story a gravity that was sobering.

Lastly, getting to visit again with the entire (and ever-growing!) McKallister clan was an absolute treat. The siblings and their spouses and kids, the McKallister parents... they were all here and I loved every moment with them. If you haven't yet met the McKallister's, what are you waiting for? And if you've already read the Cake series, Quinn's story will not disappoint. This guy has shot up to my favorite McKallister, right next to Jake. And after reading his story, I think Quinn would be just fine with that.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.
Profile Image for Kandice.
657 reviews
June 2, 2021
Quinn, one of the younger siblings, is the first McKallister that no real Before and After delineation in his childhood. His clear memories begin with Jake's abduction and the aftermath. His age meant that he was kept in the dark for most of those details, forcing a young Quinn to formulate answers and conclusions in a vacuum. Yet he's convinced himself that he's not traumatized because he wasn't the one abducted. His meet-cute with Jess is so perfectly LA. In her Quinn finds a kindred spirit. Another soul who has a damaged family and who was also kept in the dark about many of those damages. Both suffer from abandonment issues but are also strong and resilient and a little bit rebellious. They find the person who sees them.

I was a little worried about reading this out of order since I haven't read the entireseries, but I had no issues keeping up.

While the insta-love game was strong, I still loved their story. There were a few too many time jumps but I suspect that fleshing those out would have made the book way long. Also - there is a potentially triggering situation . The epilogue has all the feels.

I have also purchased the audio. The story is amazing and I'm looking forward to the incomparable Zachary Webber and Andi Arndt bringing Quinn and Jess to life.

ARC provided by Grey's Promotions
Profile Image for Rosanna.
735 reviews9 followers
June 7, 2021
Quinn has to be the cutest most lovable rock star ever! Add in Jesse with her quirky sense of humour and we have a stellar couple!
It was cute and romantic and full of loving. Pretty awesome!
I had never read anything by this author before and I was pleasantly impressed by her level of writing.
The story was A1
The characters were awesome
The cover is beautiful
It has it all!
Quinn had been in his brothers shadow for all of his life. After a tragedy that rocked the family no one was the same after even if Jake came back in one piece after being abducted as a child.
Quinn always felt like he needed to one up him.
Jess meets Quinn at his live at in his musical career. She takes him out to forget the horrible day he’s had and they instantly hit it off. They hit it off so much that jess worried that he’ll leave after finding out her big secret.
It was just awesome and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!
Profile Image for Carollynn.
69 reviews
June 11, 2021
*This review is based on the audiobook Next in Line by J. Bengtsson, and narrated by Zachary Webber and Andi Arndt*

WOW. The book started out sweet, fun, and funny. I loved Quinn, Jess, and the whole McKallister clan. Then the story got very emotional, and intense. I got angry and yelled out during one particular hard scene in the book. Be weary going in if you have a trigger or hard time listening/reading about shootings, but don’t let it stop you from doing so. As always, Jill is a fantastic story teller, and you won’t be disappointed.

ZW and AA are masters in their craft. They are two of my favorite narrators, and I don’t think anyone else would have brought this story to life as well as they did.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for K.  Ramjohn.
1,892 reviews
June 5, 2021
Next in Line is the 6th book in the ‘Cake’ series. I loved Cake and as really excited for this book. This was Jess and Quinn's story. These two complex characters had an instant connection and entertaining banter and I liked their meet-cute. They were from different worlds but they shared similar backgrounds.
The story started off a bit slow but did eventually pick up and I loved the epilogue. The story was a bit emotional and the family dynamics of the McKallisters was highly entertaining. However I was not a fan of Quinn's internal mind chatter. The story touches on some heavy topics addiction, single parenthood, gun violence, but does so in a sensitive manner. I enjoyed this insta-love tale and would recommend it.
Profile Image for Nance.
1,470 reviews104 followers
June 5, 2021
This was a excellent romance, but I needed more. More of the romance. A longer story. A little too insta-love. I needed a little more slow burn. More of the band coming together. More of Jess’s family. More of the climax and recovery. But, I did love the ending! It was perfect! Two rock Gods coming together! And, the characters? Jess was a hoot! Beautiful, confident. There was a lot of hardship and drama in her past, though. And, Quinn, even with his and his family’s troubles, was smart, funny and oh so sexy. Both just wanted to be loved and not left behind and forgotten. And, little Noah? That kid cracked me up! Another amazing love story to add to the McKallister series! Next up, Grace. So looking forward to her story…
Profile Image for Kimberly Morehouse.
565 reviews29 followers
October 29, 2021
Quinn has had my heart since the very first book. The youngest of the sons, and with talent like Jake, I knew his story would be a great one. And it was. He was so young when the events that changed his family, really did a number on him and Grace. They were too young to know the full story and were left on their own while everyone else was lost and grieving. He idolized Jake, yet resented him. He wanted to knock Jake from his throw, yet sought his approval. He tries to forge his own path and find himself making bad decision after bad decision. Finally one of those bad decisions, leads him to the perfect woman for him and a career he has dreamed of. But just when things are looking so hopeful, his own tragedy strikes almost ending everything just as it is getting started. He reaches out to Jake, who is able to help him through it all. In the end he gets the girl, a bonus and his lifelong dream. I have loved every book in this series! Simply fantastic and beautiful. Narration was great as you would expect!
Profile Image for Jen.
1,848 reviews159 followers
March 4, 2022
I've read that the reason J. Bengtsson became an author was because she read a really bad romance book and knew she could do better. Well, she's continued that over and over with this series. Quinn's story was wonderful, full of the right amount of angst and even the big bad thing didn't seem contrived. I love this family and this series. I'll pretty much read whatever this woman writes.

Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber - two of my favorite narrators - make this book fantastic.
Profile Image for Katie Sue.
100 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2022
5 ‘CAKE’ Stars! 🧁 🧁🧁🧁🧁

Ugh, I love the McAllister clan! Every book in this series has made me laugh (most credit to Quinn’s dad, Noah, and sibling banter), cry, and melt into a gooey mess.
Amazing narration by Zachary Weber and Andi Arndt!
63 reviews1 follower
May 31, 2021
Whether you’re already a diehard fan of the Cake series and the whole McKallister clan or if you’ve never heard of them before, you’re in for a treat with Next in Line by Jill Bengtsson. This book and this boy (and girl) will steal your heart completely. We meet Quinn McKallister at a pivotal moment as he competes in a reality singing competition. What happens next is both unexpected and life changing for him, in more ways than one. Not only is the path of his singing career forever changed, but he meets a funny and self-assured woman named Jess who changes his life in other ways.

Even though Quinn is an incredibly talented singer and musician himself, he always felt like he lived in the shadow of his famous rock star brother, Jake. Not only was Jake an incredibly talented super star, but Jake’s childhood had been rocked by a tragic event that shook the whole family and altered it forever. Quinn was young when tragedy struck and has few memories of life before it. Growing up, he always felt invisible to the whole family and was a lost soul who simply wanted to be seen. Throughout this book, we get to spend a bit of time with all of the McKallisters, and I’m so thankful for that. They are such unique personalities and I love them all! Each member of the McKallister family has always felt larger than life to me and Quinn is no exception. He has a personality and magnetism that cannot be ignored. He’s self-deprecating, witty, charming, direct, honest, loyal and impossible not to love. Jess Bello unexpectedly comes into Quinn’s path and spends an unforgettable day with him. They begin as strangers and end up opening themselves up to each other in ways that they’ve never done with anyone else. He is taken with her confidence and intrigued by her depth. He loves that she is relaxed, upbeat, funny and strong. He used to think he preferred uncomplicated women, but learned the error of his ways when Jess turns his life upside down. Their chemistry is undeniable.

They both end up facing somewhat uncertain events, but life brings them back to each other and takes them through it all together. Quinn’s loyalty and devotion to Jess made my heart melt. I love the way he loves her. I will say that just when I thought their future was certain and they could overcome some fairly minor obstacles, a major event happens right when Quinn’s career is about to go to the next level. I did not see this coming and it completely took me by surprise. It was masterful writing and I applaud Jill Bengtsson for navigating that aspect of the story so well. It showed Quinn’s strength of character and brought about an incredibly touching moment between Quinn and Jake. I reread that scene three times just to take it all in. I will say that there were also other moments earlier in this story when Quinn was able to have heartfelt, truthful conversations with his parents and siblings that helped him realize that he was never forgotten and always loved.

I loved watching the path that Quinn’s career took and seeing him have the chance to be heard, to lead and to shine. I especially loved his relationship with Jess - their incredible chemistry, undying devotion and witty banter even in the midst of adversity. I was excited to see two epilogues because I truly did not want this story to end.
Profile Image for Literary Temptations .
575 reviews45 followers
May 23, 2021

RELEASE DATE: 01 June 2021

ARC was kindly provided for an honest review


I’ve been sitting on this review for a few days now since I finished reading this book, wondering if I liked it. I guess I did.

The thing is, I have never read a book by this author. But the blurb alone just had me salivating with excitement of what was to come. So, I tried really hard to enjoy it. The storyline had potential, but the execution was…well meh. I just did not live up to what I expected based on the blurb. Basically, the blurb sold me a pup.

As it says Quinn is left wounded and weighed down by feelings of inadequacy and overshadowed by his brother’s success and trauma. A trauma that nobody in his family sans Grace sees. He wants to be seen and he reckons being a much bigger success than Jake is the way to do it. At the same time, he is frustrated and resentful of the constant comparison and when he flees from a situation that once again pits him against his brother, he finds himself in Jess’ car and fleeing from the scene.
Jess, like Quinn, has abandonment issues. Weighed down by motherhood at a young age, feelings of neglect, she is forever working and trying to make ends meet. So, her meeting with Quinn is the most exciting thing to happen in her life in a long time.

I have to say, insta-love is NOT my jam. I find them often ridiculous and very rarely written in a way that is believable. The idea that Quinn can jump into a total stranger’s car and immediately have the OMG-I-can’t-live-without-you stage in one breath is crazy to me. To latch onto someone, you’ve just met with such fierceness when you’ve just sworn blind that you’re a love them and leave them kind of guy was just mind-boggling. And Jess as sweet as she was, to go from I’m putting my son first to I want-you-forever-and-ever-amen when Quinn finally found her was just


I feel like there were so many avenues in the story that were left undeveloped. Quinn’s resentment and anger with his family, whatever Jess’s beef was with her sister and her seemingly seeking to mend bridges and then apparently turning around and going back to her old way etc.

The timeline jumped way too much and too wide that I felt like life was missing in between. There was so much potential and unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. There was too much disjoin in the story and honestly, what truly lacked was a true connection to the story as a ready and within the story itself. There just was not enough to give you a rounded picture of the story, their characters etc. but don’t let me deter you form reading it, apparently others found it to be a 5* read.
Profile Image for David Maher.
271 reviews10 followers
June 6, 2021
Quinn has always felt like the forgotten McKallister; certainly not the tragic McKallister. That title had belonged to his older brother Jake for as long as Quinn could remember. Everyone knew (or at least thought they knew) what Jake had been through, and everyone could sympathize with what their parents and older siblings had been through as a consequence, but Quinn, and his younger sister Grace were just little kids at the time. Kids are resilient. Right? They were surely too young to understand, and by extension to young to be traumatized by the fallout of Jake’s abduction and subsequent escape. Right?

In fact though, Quinn was so shaped and molded by those events that he had little knowledge of and less control over, that he’s gone through life struggling to make any meaningful connections with anyone not a member of his immediate family. So when, after imploding his chance to make it big on a top rated TV talent show, he makes an unlikely connection with a rideshare driver who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, he’s able to recognize it as something that doesn’t happen everyday.

For her part, Jess definitely felt something for Quinn, the rocker with a heart of gold, a megawatt smile, immeasurable potential and devastatingly sad eyes, but her life is already too complicated by half. If she were still young and carefree, then maybe, but she hasn’t been that girl for years.

Next in Line, named for that TV show whose hijinks set Quinn on a collision course with Jess was a delight to read. The pathos of Quinn’s struggle to reconcile the tragedy of his past and Jess’ daily battle to keep all the balls she’s juggling in the air are contrasted and complimented by the humor and ordinariness of one extraordinarily unordinary family. The push and pull of their meetcute and subsequent first day together, followed by their unplanned yet deliberate separation builds the humor and tension while delving a little deeper into each character, allowing the reader to empathize with why they make their respective choices.

I’ve been a fan of this series for a while, and was curious to see where this McKallister family member would go and while surprised, I can’t help but feel that this book was exactly what it should have been. Building upon the familiar, while introducing the reader to a side of Quinn that was only hinted at in the previous stories about his older siblings. Not only that, but J Bengtsson managed to loosely tie this story in with her previous standalone novel Like The Wind, so while I’m sure it would work as a standalone itself, if you’re of a mood, I’d certainly recommend reading them all, either before or after.

I loved it.
Profile Image for FS Meurinne.
Author 2 books88 followers
June 2, 2021
Quinn's story is one I was looking forward to, I love the Cake series and can't get enough of them, but Quinn is the character I was missing the most. All the things he lived from Jake's abduction were a dark past I wanted to read about. I love Jess, I think the way they meet and how she is is perfect for Quinn. An emotional rollercoaster indeed, so many things having to come out and the there are some twists you didn't see coming, I really recommend the whole series is one of my top favorite rockstar romance series.

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1,916 reviews40 followers
June 1, 2021
I'm not going to lie: Cake is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved everything about Jake and Casey. Some of the other McKallister siblings' books were hit or miss for me, and Next In Line started off a little slow. But by the time I got to the end of the book, I had fallen hook, line and sinker for Quinn and Jess.

Quinn is carrying around so much baggage as a result of Jake's abduction, and grew up in the shadow of his big brother and all that Jake is. His meet-cute with Jess, a ride-share driver and star homes tour guide, is perfect because she has zero clue who Jake is when she becomes his Getaway Girl. Jess, too, has known tragedy in her life, and she and Quinn are kind of kindred souls. Their connection grows organically, and they share an amazing day together. After that, tho, Jess ghosts Quinn because she has a secret of her own that she doesn't want brought to light. But fate intervenes again, and Quinn and Jess cross paths once more.

There is a lot that both Quinn and Jess have to unpack in this book. She calms his rough edges, and Quinn really comes into his own as a result of his relationship with Jess. Next In Line is full of heart and heat, lots of emotion and a twist that I wasn't expecting. There is a FANTASTIC scene with Jake and Quinn, and it brought tears to my eye. I was so happy with Quinn and Jess' story by the time I got to the end, and the epilogues were excellent. There is a great set-up for Grace's book, the youngest of the siblings, and I can't wait to read that one!

I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Profile Image for Sarah.
869 reviews
June 4, 2021
4.5 stars 🌟

Beautifully unexpected with a modern day Cinderella twist!!
Quinn has spent his whole life feeling slightly disconnected from his family, he still loves them all dearly but he constantly feels he needs to prove himself....Jess has lived her life on her own, pushed from pillar to post and ignored growing up ....she has found the one person she can truly rely on..... herself! Despite this she still clings onto the small family she has, ever hopeful that they will return her love and loyalty someday.

Then she meets the enigmatic Quinn and she can’t believe this witty, amazing man has his sights set on her... he is a magnet to all, everyone wants to be in his orbit and yet he just can’t see it. For Quinn, Jess is his safe place, she totally gets him and he very quickly can’t see his life without this quirky, smart, complicated woman and all that she brings with her...

These two have a beautiful bond and Noah is an absolute star... I was completely captured by their witty banter, their connection and my heart ached for all they had gone through.

This series is so clever, the author doesn’t just focus on Jake and his tragic past but shows the true effect such an event has on the whole family..... how the trauma ricochets down through the siblings and shapes all their lives, exploring how each age group within the family perceived and dealt with that unimaginable time in their lives is brilliantly observed.
Another winner for me and I look forward to lovely Grace’s story next.
Profile Image for Tammy - .
739 reviews102 followers
June 24, 2021
Next in Line is the sixth installment in the Cake series by J. Bengtsson, and I have to admit that I had only read the first book in this series before this one. That's something that I need to correct at some point, but not having read the other four books in this series did not take away from this story at all. Although the McKallister characters and storylines are all woven together, this can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, and the author does a good job of giving you just enough background so that everything comes together.

This is Quinn McKallister's story. Quinn was just 6 yrs old when his brother Jake was abducted. After Jakes' return, Jake rose to stardom, and Quinn has spent his life living in this brother's shadow. One bad decision after another seems to keep Quinn from fulfilling his dreams, until he meets Jess. They embark on an afternoon of fun, but that one afternoon could change both of their lives forever.

This is a very well told story that had me laughing out loud and swooning more than once. I loved the banter between all of these characters, and you just can't help but love Quinn. His story is not all comedy and romance though, and the last 20% or so of this book took a turn that, for me, took this from a 4-star to a 5-star read. It was a twist that I never saw coming, and it left an impact. This book reminded me how much I loved the first book in this series, and it makes me want to go back and read the rest.
Profile Image for Talie.
544 reviews9 followers
June 3, 2021
Thank you to Grey's Promotions for my digital arc of this title.

Next In Line is the six book in the Cake series and the first book in a new arc with the younger kids in the family. The Cake series is one of my absolute favorite romance series. For those new to the Cake series the McKallister family story centers around the childhood kidnapping of Jake McKallister and how this kidnapping shapes the lives of the various McKallister siblings. This book represents a satisfying addition to the story.

This story centers around Quinn, the youngest brother, and a musician trying to make his way out of the shadow of his older brother Jake.

My thoughts:

- I thought this was a satisfying addition to the McKallister series.
- I really wanted more about Emma McKallister. For someone who was a surrogate mother to Quinn for a few years, I really felt like she should have played a larger role.
- While this book stands alone, it really will make a lot of more sense for those that have read at least the first four books.

I recommend this book to fans of the Cake series. It wasn't my favorite of the series but I love this family and loved seeing them in action again.
Profile Image for Jodi - JodiReadsnListens.
627 reviews22 followers
May 15, 2021
Next in Line took my heart on a crazy, emotional ride, and I loved every bit of it! J. Bengtsson has written another passionate and enduring story in this epic Cake series. I prepared myself before reading this book because J. Bengtsson always knows how to suck you in and be completely consumed in a story.

In this book, we finally get Quinn's story! Quinn is striving to create a name for himself in the music industry. He has always been in Jake's shadow, and truly wants to break free. As a contestant on a music reality show, he finally has a chance to present himself as his own artist. Jess is an independent woman who cares about family and doing what she can to provide for her them. On a chance encounter, where fate is definitely involved,Jess and Quinn collide and all the sparks fly!

The chemistry between these two characters is off the charts. J. Bengtsson keeps getting better and better with each Cake story. With each story, we learn more and more about the McKallister family. I loved catching with all the characters. I am looking forward to Grace's story next!
Profile Image for Judy.
393 reviews2 followers
June 2, 2021
Next in line is a continuation of the fabulous cake series. As one of the younger siblings, Quinn has been trying to find his place in the world. But when your brother is THE Jake McKallister it can be a difficult place to find. Plus he doesn’t make it easy for himself. At every turn he’s self sabotaging. Until he jumps into Jess’s car.
Now Jess is no stranger to conflict and has been known to not make the best decisions in her past. She’s hoping that as she’s grown up she’s making better informed decisions..until she lets a stranger in her car and has an instantaneous connection with him.
But while Quinn is all in with Jess, Jess’s conscience gets the better of her and she ghosts him.
Quinn tries to grow up and find his girl at the same time. But Quinn is a McKallister and the road that’s paved with good intentions has hilarity and facing ones past along the scenic and bumpy drive!
Fans of the Cake series will love this continuing story of this family and will love catching up with this entertaining family!
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