Looking for a perfectly cheery book to end your autumn on a high note? If so, The Magic Ingredient (Rosewind Books) by Lindy Miller will be as welcome as a dusting of sugar sprinkles on your favorite pumpkin-flavored treat. Bubbling over with graceful romance, seasonal festivity and wholehearted family joy, this novel whisks you off to a lovely coastal village on Maine’s Mount Desert Island and invites you to make yourself at home. Actually, it’s pronounced “Mount Dessert,” and thereby serves as inspiration for the sweet plot.
Eve Silver works as the island’s resident baker, running the patisserie that’s been in her family for generations and whipping up classic recipes for her appreciative regulars and the recurrent tourists. Unfortunately, the down-to-earth shop could use a few more visitors; if Eve can’t raise the necessary finances by the Halloween deadline, her treasured island haunt will go under forever.
Eve’s not the only one in the village experiencing difficulties. Jeff Parish, a widower with precocious twelve-year-old daughter Candace and irrepressible father-in-law Bapo in tow, relocates from New York City in an attempt to create new memories while figuring out how to honor the old.
A handyman by trade, Jeff can’t seem to fix either his family’s grief or his own unemployment. Candace also feels disconsolate, her predicament exacerbated by the difficult adjustment to her new hometown, antagonistic classmates, and loss-infused loneliness. Bapo comes along to help his son-in-law out, simultaneously sagacious and loquacious while usually getting on Jeff’s nerves.
When the disheveled trio stumble into Mount Desserts and Tea they find that Eve serves her guests with a heaping spoonful of generosity and compassion. The Parishes begin to spend nearly all of their spare time at Mount Desserts as Jeff repairs stand-mixers and Candace frosts whoopie pies, everyone brainstorming ways to attract the business that the shop so desperately needs to stay afloat.
Naturally Jeff and Eve find themselves attracted to one another, but they surely have their hands full with both professional responsibilities and personal worries. Even so, how long until someone tries giving fate a little push in a romantic direction?
A DELICIOUS ROMANCE
The Magic Ingredient contains plenty of delightful elements to keep the reader satisfied. If you enjoy baking (or even just eating!) desserts of all varieties, this book is a genuine feast. Dappled with decadent descriptions of fragrant cinnamon buns, white velvet cupcakes in a halo of marshmallow frosting, and autumnal caramel-apple cake, Eve’s passion for creating heartwarming and delectable works of art will prompt you to bake a family favorite recipe, try inventing an inspired new creation, or if nothing else, to stop by your local bakery. The novel reads like a visit to your favorite small business — warm, cozy and familiar.
Characters come to life effortlessly thanks to Miller’s sensitive writing style. Eve, Jeff and Candace all receive points of view, refreshing the narrative with their unique perspectives and personal motivations. Supporting characters frequently steal the show, especially the lovable Bapo and the town’s top candidate for mayor, Doris, who pokes and prods Eve with her somewhat overbearing maternal instincts.
The book sparkles when investigating what lies at the heart of a true relationship. Eve works tirelessly to save her shop but struggles with confidence in her abilities. Her friends become increasingly invested in her success, and there’s a lot more at stake than a simple career. Just how much can her supporters intervene, and when, in doing so, do they undermine her tentative journey towards realizing her own inherent self-worth? Meanwhile, can the trauma of losing a loved one ever heal enough to allow life’s next great adventure — or even pave the way for a chance at new love?
Love, in all its humble yet inexplicable power, truly takes the cake in The Magic Ingredient. The characters’ demonstrations of this highest virtue — towards each other and their community — prove more enchanting than any Halloween spell or culinary confection. The result is sweet indeed.
The Magic Ingredient is available for purchase here.