I definitely have a 'thing' for covers and The Icing on the Cupcake by Jenifer Ross decidedly caught my eye. Yummmmm - cupcakes.
Ansley Waller is a Southern belle. Newly graduated, she has accomplished what she has been aiming for her entire life - she's engaged. With that goal achieved, she lets her hair down and relaxes the perfect girl facade she has created. Her fiance Parish finally sees what he suspected and dumps her. To escape that humiliation, Ansley heads to New York City to live with the grandmother she's never met.
Baking cupcakes has always been Ansley's way of coping. That coping skill takes her farther than she could have imagined in New York. Ansley's imaginative, innovative cupcake recipes are scattered throughout the book. (I didn't count-but there must be close to twenty) Cleverly titled, they include such offerings as Black Bottom Heartache, First Blush of Crush and many more.
Ross paints a clear picture of a nasty, unlikeable Ansley. It was appealing to watch her change and grow as the book progresses. There is an unexplained event that accounts for Vivian being absent from Ansley and her mother Hattie's lives. The truth is tantalizingly revealed - much of it through the family recipe book that has been handed down over generations.
The characters are engaging, but I never really felt connected to any of them. Ansley does grow and change. In the beginning, it all seems to be to prove something to everyone else, not for herself. The whole idea of moving was to 'save face' and "show those sons of bitches that you have something better in store", not to be a better person. Parish seems a decent person in the beginning, calling Ansley out for her behaviour, but accepting it from someone else later on. Ansley's mother Hattie, although hurting from not having her mother in her life, doesn't come off as a sympathetic character to this reader. Vivian was interesting - I liked her no nonsense approach, but wondered about her accepting her 'fate.' Mother daughter relationships between the three women are explored in this light hearted coming of age (at any age) tale.
I found the storyline appealing and the overall premise a fun ride. Ross has found the perfect vehicle for many of her metaphors and images - the act of baking and the cupcakes themselves. Her descriptions of the processes and results were very enjoyable. Ross is an avid baker herself and it shows in her writing. (And really inspires you to go start a batch of cupcakes!)
If you're looking for a light, entertaining and dare I say it - sweet - read, then this is one to pop in your summer beach read bag!