In THE POTLUCK CLUB TAKES THE CAKE, Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson continue the romance and mayhem of the lovable (and some not quite as lovable) ladies of the Potluck Club in Summit View, Colorado.
If you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, THE POTLUCK CLUB and THE POTLUCK CLUB—TROUBLE’S BREWING, I would advise that you do so first (this review will have plenty of spoilers otherwise!). If you begin with this novel, you’ll be lost in a maze of situations and characters. Consider yourself warned.
For those who have read installments one and two, you’ll be happy to discover all your favorite characters picking up where they left off. Evangeline “Evie” Benson (the founder of the club) is getting ready for her upcoming nuptials to the local sheriff, but his ex-wife is back on the scene and stirring the proverbial pot. Evie is also feuding with wedding consultant and romance coach Lisa Leann Lambert, who is her co-sponsor of the Christmas Tea and also planning Evie’s wedding down to the last smear of icing on the cake. Goldie Dippel is trying to patch things up with her estranged husband Jack, but his last affair seemingly has had disastrous consequences, and whether they can overcome this hurdle seems dicey.
More mayhem: Single gal and deputy sheriff Donna Vesey, a self-described “crazy lady with a gun,” is feeling estranged from faith, even as she is hotly pursued by a bevy of eligible men. Among them is Vonnie Westbrook’s long-lost son, who is the focus of a gaggle of paparazzi. Meanwhile, Lizzie Prattle’s comfortable mid-life routine is completely upset by a medical emergency, adult children whose marriage is in crisis, and her mother, who has Alzheimer’s and needs her more than ever. The ever-hopeful Clay Whitefield, the nosy reporter for the Gold Rush News, gets a spa day makeover to boost his chances with Donna. He is also determined to keep his eyes out for any personal developments in the lives of the Potluckers in hopes of writing a novel about them…and there’s plenty to keep him busy in these 400 pages of Potluck antics.
What I enjoy most about the Potluck Club books is Shepherd’s and Everson’s good sense of humor. A mischievous tone creeps into the most unexpected places (“That woman has been around more tracks than a Derby horse.”). I’d love to see more of that kind of fun. I’m also a sucker for the recipes that begin each chapter (and are fully outlined at the end of the book). Good food makes an agreeable story even better.
The novel is not without its challenges. Readers will have to concentrate to stay with the many points of view throughout the story. However, this allows Shepherd and Everson to develop different characters and situations in a way that helps readers to grow to care about them. It’s also difficult to believe that Goldie doesn’t own a cell phone. A woman on her own without a cell phone? Puh-leaze. There are some clichés: the emergency baby delivery (how many times have we seen this done in some form in inspirational fiction?) and the mysterious child from the past who appears as an adult just in time to make the characters’ lives awkward. The authors work hard to give both scenes a slightly different twist, which helps them go down easier.
Yet these are small hurdles to jump over in order to enjoy an entertaining, light story with plenty of faith and romance thrown in between the covers. Potluck Club fans will be happy to find the same sort of flavorful fare that hooked them on the first two books.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on May 1, 2007