This is the sequel to The Cake Therapist, which I reviewed last year after discovering another new author that writes one of my favorite genres: foodie fiction.
The Memory of Lemon returns to Millcreek Valley, Ohio and Claire "Neely" Davis. Her bakery Rainbow Cake is winning people over, and business is good. Her love life, however, is not in a good place. Still married to her football pro (and cheating) husband, she can't file for divorce until she's established residency in Ohio--she's got a few weeks yet. Her growing feelings for childhood sweetheart Ben are confusing and frustrating--her prenup agreement with Luke has a clause in it stating that he gets anything he's provided for her if she's caught being unfaithful during their marriage. And that means Claire's home and bakery are on the line. And gee, Luke doesn't want to give Claire up.
Claire's latest client is getting married in June, and is having a tug of war over her wedding with her mother. Lydia wants to be married at her grandmother's old cabin, with a rustic theme and no cake; her mother wants a wedding fit for high society--and a spectacular cake. Claire's usual special intuition, which matches dessert flavors exactly with her clients, is failing her each time she meets Lydia. She just can't pinpoint what Lydia wants. A visit to the cabin in Kentucky sparks Claire's talent and gives her a peek into the past history of the cabin and the women who lived, loved, and raised families there.
This was a sequel that was almost better than the original. The past glimpses of history between Claire's family and Lydia's family were really quite interesting. Claire's father, long absent from her life, begins to connect to Claire through letters. He's a homeless Vietnam vet who is trying very hard to get his life together and find a place of peace. It's surprising how Claire's family history becomes such an integral part of the story, and melds perfectly with her latest efforts to create the perfect wedding for Lydia.
And of course the descriptions of pastries, flavors, and scents all create such a wonderful background. My mouth was watering! There is a reason recipes are passed down generation after generation. It's not just the tradition, but the memories those flavors invoke in us that keep us connected to our families and our roots. Sometimes those flavors can bring us back when we're lost and feeling adrift.
Rating: 8/10 for a lovely sequel to The Cake Therapist. I hate to say goodbye to Claire and the folks of Millcreek Valley, so I certainly expect a third book.
Available in paperback and e-book.