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The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living is Louise Miller's debut novel.  A few weeks ago I was in need of a book to read, and I really wanted to read this one, but my library's copy was out.  So was the other book I really wanted to read so I had to borrow other books while I waited for this one to come in.  Sometimes I just want to read what I want to read when I want to read it, ya know?  And it's hard when that one book you want to read right now is not available.  #bookwormproblems

When Olivia nearly burns down the Emerson Club (at which she is head chef) thanks to the traditional baked Alaska her married lover and president of the club insists upon for the club's anniversary celebration, she decides it's time for a change.  So she packs up her clothes and her dog and flees Boston in the middle of the night for rural Vermont without further notice.  She's heading for the comfort of her best friend but ends up finding a place to call home and people to call family.

In Vermont Olivia unexpectedly finds solace, comfort, and eventually something she thought she'd never have: a sense of family and a permanent home.  When her best friend, Hannah, hooks Olivia up with a new job as the baker at the Sugar Maple Inn, Olivia finds a job she loves in spite of a difficult boss as well as a home and friends that become family.  The job comes with the caveat that Olivia must enter an apple pie on behalf of the inn in the county fair pie contest that's a big deal around these parts and for which Olivia's boss, Margaret, wants to re-take first place.

Margaret's friends, the McCracken family, embrace Olivia, especially Henry, the terminally ill patriarch of the family.  Meanwhile Olivia and Martin, the youngest McCracken brother who has returned home from Seattle to help care for his father develop an attraction, and Olivia falls hard for him.  After Henry succumbs to his illness, Olivia discovers a heartbreaking secret that Martin's been keeping from her at the wake.  This prompts Olivia to flee Vermont to return to Boston to start over--and this time when she runs, she tells no one and leaves no forwarding address.  This time she's dealing with a broken heart and giving up a home and family she loves.

Questions I have [SPOILERS]:

Is Martin really engaged or is this just a misunderstanding?  Because he's been sending mixed signals to Olivia throughout the book.

What is the deal between Jane White and Margaret?  Why does Jane have it in for Margaret?  When the root of the 'bad blood' between the two women is revealed, Jane turns out to be a manipulative scheming, conniving, vengeful, jealous, petty woman.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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