by Jamie Wesley
Publication: June 21, 2022
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
After refusing a proposal on reality television, Jada Townsend-Matthews has become the target of vitriol from viewers who believe she made the wrong decision. To get the media off her back and to try to change the public’s perception of her, she lies that she is dating football player and cupcake shop owner Donovan Dell. Initially hesitant, Donovan agrees with the plan to bring in more traffic to the shop.
Fake It Till You Bake It had all the ingredients for a perfect romance, but it was difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the story. Their first meeting was entertaining with Donovan unwilling to back down from Jada’s unwarranted critique of the cupcakes even if her comment about the ambiance hit the mark. It was a great way to introduce the characters to each other and to start building their attraction. Donovan and Jada have great banter and it’s one of my favorite parts of the book. After their first meeting, the chemistry between the leads fluctuated, sometimes it was present and other times I couldn’t feel it. The romance also moved slowly, with nothing particularly butterfly-inducing until more than halfway through the book. There were also moments when the story seemed to meander without an end goal in sight. For instance, the majority of the book takes place inside the shop and Jada serves customers but it felt more like it took up pages rather than add to the story.
While I immediately liked Donovan, he doesn’t undergo much character development. Logic and rationality are his friends, but Jada interrupts the order he relies on. Donovan remains the same throughout the book. Jada is the more interesting character. She displays a tough exterior to the world, but she’s more vulnerable than she lets on. She’s timid when it comes to her family, and she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. All these things added depth to Jada’s character, and I was disappointed that they were not better explored. Additionally, I was interested in how conducive the cupcake shop and Donovan would be to her personal growth, but there lacked introspection from Jada to showcase an effect on her.
Fake It Till You Bake It hooked me with fake dating and cupcakes. There are multiple layers to Jada that had the potential to make the novel a better read for me, but how it was all presented seemed very surface-level. I liked the novel but thought it could have been better.