I am a complete sucker for puns, especially groan inducing puns. Make those puns tie in to literature and I'm forever yours. So a book called Vanity Fare with a cover photo of charming old books topped with a dish of luscious looking chocolate chip cookies was always going to make me swoon with delight. That the insides are as sweet and punny as the cover of Megan Caldwell's new novel promises is just icing on the cake.
Molly Hagan is having to figure out how to hold onto her life. Her whiny, cheating ex-husband left her for a younger, blonder woman and now he's lost his job and can't pay child support. She adores her six year old son Aidan and wants to keep everything stable for him but how do you explain to a young child that he can't have the newest Power Ranger because they have to pay the rent and eat? Molly can't even afford to continue to go to therapy except that her doctor figures they'll work out the money eventually. So it's a godsend for this stay-at-home mom with a degree in English when old friend John offers her a freelance job writing copy for a new and different account he's just landed: an in the works bakery located close to the New York Public Library wants to integrate the themes of baked goods and books.
While her personal life is in such turmoil, Molly jumps into the writing job, determined to do it well. And it turns out that working on the bakery might just help her get some things straight in her own head. Of course, it also means the added complication of very hot, very sexy, rising food star and chef Simon who is used to getting everything he wants. And it seems Molly might just be tops on his list. Then there's his aloof, intimidating, and restrained business partner Nick who seems sceptical that Molly is the right person to work on this campaign. Meanwhile Molly's mother, with whom she has a difficult relationship, has moved in with Molly and Aidan because she's lost all her money and could be losing her house.
As Molly works on the bakery, coming up with the fantastic idea to name the baked goods for famous works of literature through hilariously groan-worthy puns, she also works hard on herself. With the support of her wonderful and supportive friends and her understanding therapist, she learns to value herself and even, on occasion, put herself first. She opens herself up to new experiences and new relationships and learns to recognize what's good for the moment and what's even better for the long haul. She gains confidence in herself and can truly look to the future happier, more settled, and strong.
Caldwell has written a delightful and witty novel here. Her characters are appealing and realistic. Molly's frazzled existence in the beginning, her caffeine obsession and love of sweets, her deep desire to sink into depression over her situation coupled with the tiniest hold on determination to keep it together, and her unique quirks all serve to make her a very realistic and sympathetic character. The several plot lines come together neatly and the pace of the novel is quick and consistent. The many references to great literature and the wordplay here are fun and the dialogue is snappy. Starting each chapter with a sample of the sort of thing that Molly creates for the bakery is charming and the handful of recipes included in the end look tasty. Over all, this is a delectable, sweet, and pleasing read.
For more information about Megan Caldwell and the book visit her website, her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, and even check out her Pinterest page. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.