Julie Mueller, once a brilliant local television reporter, has been fired for the sin of being forty. Broke, divorced, unemployed, and struggling to raise a teenage daughter alone, she had given up on happiness until she receives for Mother’s Day four dessert classes that spark not only a new burst of culinary creativity but a burning passion for one of her fellow students, Michael Slayton, a true love she let slip away.
Before Julie can win back her soul mate, however, she must make amends to those she’s unwittingly hurt in her past and stare down a crisis every woman must face. Armed with the love of her mother, her daughter, her own determination, and lots and lots of chocolate, Julie takes to heart Shakespeare’s plea: “Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said thy edge should blunter be than appetite.”
Bestselling author Meg Cabot has said that “opening a book by Sarah Strohmeyer is like opening a box of chocolates – sweet, a little nutty, and absolutely irresistible.” With this new novel, Sarah Strohmeyer – author of The Cinderella Pact and The Sleeping Beauty Proposal – proves those words especially apt and delivers a story as rich and satisfying as a chocolate layer cake.
An interesting tale of a middle age woman dealing with changes in her life. Her daughter is getting ready to leave the nest, her career is changing, her mother is getting old. It was at times poignant and gritty, showing us both the selfish and selfless sides to human nature.
I feel the blurb is very misleading. Julie didn’t actually lose her job. She lost the chance at a promotion because of her age and because of something that happened with Michael Slayton years before. Michael was her brother’s best friend growing up and became an honorary member of their family since his parents weren’t much to speak of. As the years went by and they grew up together Julie developed a crush on Michael. But her brother and mother warned Michael away from her, so despite his growing attraction to her he pushed her away.
Years later they reconnect over a political issue Julie is covering. Michael is an aide to the presidential hopeful and Julie uncovers some information about him. Michael asks her to hold the information and Julie refuses, causing a breech between them. Now, a decade later, Julie’s mother decides she made a mistake in keeping the two apart and arranges for them to be in the same dessert class without the other knowing.
But Julie’s life is in complete upheaval – her daughter is getting ready to leave the nest, her mother is starting to show her age and is becoming more dependent on Julie and the promotion she desperately wants is contingent on her going against her integrity to do something she doesn’t think is right.
Julie was a complex character. One I think many of us can relate to. She was just a normal, single mother trying to do the right thing for her family. At times she resented it and other times she relished it. I think she was the epitome of everything woman. There were times I got so frustrated with her, mostly when she was frustrated with her mother. But when I put myself in her shoes, I know I would have felt the same way. Who wants to give up a date the man you’ve had a crush on for 30 years to take your mother to the eye doctor?
I did have issues with the romance angle. I never really understood why she was in love Michael, nor when exactly he fell in love with her. Because this is written in 1st person we didn’t get much from Michael, but even so I couldn’t really understand the connection between the two. Michael seems shallow and interested in nothing more than a light fling. I couldn’t understand why or when his feelings changed. Also, the actions of both seemed rather immature at times, considering they were both over 40.
I also had an issue with her father. He was emotionally unavailable – and physically unavailable 95% of the time – for her or her mother, and I didn’t feel that was fully explained or explored. I didn’t think the other secondary characters were as fleshed out as they could be, especially Julie’s daughter.
Having said that, in the end I enjoyed her journey and was emotionally involved in her life. Julie Mueller really represented every woman and the trials and tribulations each of us face.
4 out of 5