Author Janice Thompson has written several lighthearted fiction series, most featuring a particular ethnic family (Greek, Italian), with characters crossing over, not just within each series, but also into the others. The most recent example is the Weddings by Design series, where you’ll find previous favorites from the popular Weddings by Bella series (FOOLS RUSH IN, IT HAD TO BE YOU, SWINGING ON A STAR). Of course, both of these series focus on weddings, a choice topic for any true romance fan.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE is the second installment in the Weddings by Design series and stars Irish fiery redhead and “I Love Lucy” fanatic Scarlet Lindsey. Baking has always been Scarlet’s passion, and when her aunt Wilhelmina offered to fund Scarlet’s new business, Let Them Eat Cake, Scarlet was thrilled. Of course, it’s not easy living under Aunt Willy’s thumb. To call her aunt “brash” is an understatement. Not only did she destroy Scarlet’s self-confidence as a child when she criticized her singing voice, she also gave Scarlet the nickname “Sticky Buns.” This is not exactly something Scarlet appreciates, considering her constantly widening backside. But still, she loves her aunt and does her best to accommodate her demands.
"Once again, Janice Thompson has created a fun and lovable main character with real flaws, weaknesses and personality quirks. Of all the books I’ve read by this author, I think this is my favorite."
As the book opens, Scarlet is feeling a little overwhelmed. Besides the demands of launching her bakery, she is also creating the perfect cake for her best friend’s wedding, in which she is also serving as the maid of honor. She is organizing a talent show to raise funds for a mission trip. And she’s trying to figure out a way to break it to Kenny, her assistant/sort-of-boyfriend, that she doesn’t see a future with him.
Enter Armando Rossi, suave and charming, with looks that are quite a distraction. Scarlet has heard the rumors about this “bad boy” and his womanizing ways, and common sense tells her to run for the hills. But she’s seeing a different side of Armando: compassionate and sensitive, kind, a man who doesn’t seem to even notice her chubby thighs and overly healthy appetite. Add to that the way he looks at her with those deep dark eyes, ripped abs and muscles galore, and common sense flies out the window.
When an unexpected opportunity to enter a contest on national television lands in her lap, it causes her to freak out about her weight (the camera does add 10 pounds, after all). So she goes on a crash diet, loses 17 pounds in three weeks, and ends up making a fool of herself in front of millions of people. At that moment, Scarlet asks the question she has asked herself a hundred times before: What would Lucy do?
Once again, Janice Thompson has created a fun and lovable main character with real flaws, weaknesses and personality quirks. Of all the books I’ve read by this author, I think this is my favorite. Maybe because I can relate so well to the weight issues and other insecurities Scarlet struggles with, or maybe because I like a story that steps on the toes of “judgmental” Christians with the truth of God’s grace. Or possibly because of the resounding message, particularly to women, of God’s unconditional acceptance and love.
The quotes that lead into each chapter and the humor throughout the story offer plenty of laughs and chuckles to entertain and tickle your funny bone. There are also just enough tender moments to prick your heart. Faith is a constant thread in this story, as it is in Thompson’s other books, and prayer and spiritual references abound. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, but God, church, and breaking out in a spontaneous prayer flows naturally from these characters because it simply comes from who they are.
There are several characters you’ll remember from previous books, including the eccentric yet lovable Splendora Sisters. Bella is back, as is Hannah, from PICTURE PERFECT. And if I could guess, I’d say things are set up nicely for the next book in the series to feature Gabi, the Hispanic designer who has made brief appearances in both books so far.
Fans of Thompson and lovers of lighthearted romance will find THE ICING ON THE CAKE to be a delicious read. It’s sweet and satisfying, yet leaves you wishing for more.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on September 19, 2013