Is it wrong to be 100 percent invested in a coconut cake? Like, to the point where you may have gasped—loudly—when the deliciously described, lovingly prepared thing met an untimely fate? Well, if loving cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Of course, Amy E. Reichert’s delightful debut The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (Gallery Books) serves up more than scrumptious coconut cake (and recipe!), the contemporary, charming foodie romance also gives readers a sweet love story starring a talented chef, a restaurant critic, and the city of Milwaukee.

Lou Johnson lives, breathes, and thinks about food nearly every waking hour. She works hard and happily trying to keep her struggling French restaurant afloat in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Everything is moving along until… fate shows up, with an ice-cold side dish of bombshell. Lou pops by her attorney fiancé’s apartment toting a freshly baked coconut cake as a birthday surprise for him and finds him home—but not alone. (This is where the splendid cake meets the floor, and where I may have shed a single tear.) Making matters even worse for Lou, she heads back to work at her restaurant and has a disastrous night in the kitchen. Whatever could go wrong, does. The added cruel coincidence: this is the same night that British transplant and scathing restaurant critic “A. W. Wodyski” (Al Waters’ pseudonym) reviews the eatery.

The bitter write-up effectively sinks the restaurant. However, the day that Al’s review runs, coincidence strikes again. Lou meets Al and—unaware of who each other is—the two instantly click and feed off of the mutual attraction. After a couple of drinks to drown her sorrows and a bit of light flirting, Lou takes on the challenge of showing her “new” friend the best that her beloved city of Milwaukee has to offer. From there, their romance unfolds slowly at first, with a few mixed signals sent from both sides, but once they land on the same page, Lou and Al’s love is cooking with gas. They fall for each other despite who they really are—and also because of it.

But just when the couple finds their groove, the truth rears its big head. Al finds out that Lou is the owner of the French restaurant he demolished via his review, and Lou’s vindictive former fiancé is all too pleased to reveal Al’s real identity to her. The question becomes: Is reconciliation even a possibility? Can Lou forgive the man who crushed her dreams of running her own kitchen? I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that you’ll enjoy getting to the last bite of this darling novel.

Reichert is a skillful storyteller who knows how to bake authenticity into the details and make you care about what happens to these characters. If you’re in the mood for an endearing love story about food, friends, community, and following your heart, this one’s perfect for your palate.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is now available.


About Amy E. Reichert

Amy loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, a volunteer baby snuggler, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her library’s board of directors.