Book Review: Fake It Till You Bake It (ARC)

Expected publication: June 21st 2022

Author: Jamie Wesley

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It…

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake It Till You Bake It follows a reality tv star and a football player/cupcake shop owner in a fun opposites attract romance story. Jada Townsend-Matthews became famous on a reality dating show and is now looking for her next opportunity until she receives her inheritance. Her grandmother, the owner of the San Diego Knights football team, offers Jada a deal to receive her inheritance early. Jada will receive the money if she is able to hold down a job for six months. This brings her to the employment of Donovan Dell.

Donovan Dell is a San Diego football player who is also the co-owner of a cupcake shop, Sugar Blitz, with two of his teammates. Right away the concept of the ex-football player opening a bakery was a fun idea to include in the novel as it reminded me of the three former players in real life who opened Cupcake Guys in Austin, Texas and became more well-known with surface pro commercials shown in the US beginning in 2020.  Also, with three of them owning the shop, I could automatically picture two additional novels created to make this a series with one novel for each of the men.

Donovan agrees to employ Jada as a favor for Jada’s grandmother. Once Jada begins working there, media speculation emerges, and the public begins to believe the two are an item. Since it seems to increase business, the two of them agree to fake date. The chemistry they shared was apparent on every page and I enjoyed the two of them slowly lowering their guard to get to know the other. Jada’s dyslexia were a heart-warming addition to her character as it helped show a vulnerability. While I enjoyed this part of her, I still had a very difficult time understanding her rudeness. Her banter, at times, with Donovan read as sugar-wrapped insults where the writing was trying to pass them off as witty, but they came off as mean. While she had hidden esteem issues, it was difficult to connect with her using it as an excuse, in a way, to be conceited and rude to others. I understand the idea of creating this tougher exterior that will be melted away, but unfortunately it did not read that way to me.

Overall, Donovan and Jada were sweet together and I loved their opposites attract romance. Their timeline was a little on the insta-love side, but I could see their connection and how a relationship would work between them. The side characters were all enjoyable and worked well with the main two. Even though it was not a big deal in the story, one detail that stood out was Jada’s grandmother was a POC and an owner of a billion-dollar football team. Both in the real world and in many stories, there are POC players or coaches in sports, but I cannot recall any where they were an owner. It was not a major talking point of the story, but just was a detail that I noticed. As all the characters and the bakery, itself, with the amazing baked goods (the descriptions do make you want a cupcake immediately), I really do hope that this turns into a series, and I can revisit this set of characters soon!

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for a review copy of this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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