If there were anything I could say to writers of contemporary, small town romances, it would be that zany characters don’t substitute for actual plot. Honey Pie , the fourth in the Cupcake Club series, suffers terribly from this issue. I kept turning pages and thinking surely something will happen. Sadly, a plot never really appeared.
One of the initial issues I had with Honey Pie was that the book was very different than described. From reading the back of the book, I expected a regular small town setting with lots of talk of cake and baking. In fact, every description for the book I can find only gives you those elements. The actual story is very different. First, the entire story hinges on the fact that the main character, Honey D’Amourvell, is a psychic. Since her visions are triggered by touch, she has spent most of her life avoiding interaction with other people. Her aunt, also a psychic, invited her to come live in Sugarberry Island and open a shop to sell her sculptures and woodcarvings. She doesn’t make it out there until after her aunt’s death and shows up in town planning to take over her aunt’s old storefront and apartment. When she arrives, she finds that the space has been leased to a bakery. That bakery, Babycakes, is the only connection this story has to baking at all, except for one or two scenes where Honey goes to their baking night. However, both of those occur past the two hundred page mark, so I spent the first of the novel wondering why the description of the book was focused on sweets.
When Honey first arrives in Sugarberry, her old VW Bug breaks down. This is how she comes to meet local mechanic, Dylan Ross. As he is checking her car over, I ran into my second issue with the book, wordy writing. The first twenty pages of the book are Honey sitting on a bench outside the garage pondering her life and her current situation. It was as though the author felt the need to dump all of the information you would ever want to know about the main character into your lap at once. The first time it happened, it ruined the start of the book. There was absolutely no action to draw you in to the book at the beginning, just a long spiel about Honey’s life, her parents, her “gift”, her business, and so on. The second time it happened is the first time we really get to see Dylan’s perspective. This time we got his thoughts about his entire family history. It ended up over two solid pages of inner monologue about the Ross family followed by Dylan wondering why he was even thinking about that. If he doesn’t know, I certainly don’t. Toward the end of the book, I may have audibly groaned every time a new info dump happened. One thing about Honey Pie , if you want to know the biography of everyone in Sugarberry, you’ll get it.
As for the zany characters, there are far too many. Of course, there’s a nosy, gossiping older woman. There’s also an Italian-American who speaks broken French for no real reason and a collection of women who make their living baking. I found myself wondering how a town small enough for everyone to know that Honey is Bea’s niece without being told is able to support two bakeries and Honey’s future sculpture store.
The love story felt very forced. Dylan spends the first half of the book basically annoyed by Honey. After barely three interactions with her, none of them too remarkable, he laments about how she’s turned his life upside down and ruined everything. Except that when she’s actually around, all he wants to do is make out with her. Since she hadn’t really done anything that I would consider to be too intrusive to Dylan’s life, I thought that his overblown annoyance was just a device to keep them apart for a little while longer. Then, of course, there’s the fact that he can’t touch her because of the visions. Although, the visions are only occasionally an issue, for some reason. Once the pair gets together, there’s really no tension to speak of. I can’t really claim to understand what Dylan would see in Honey. She was awkward, withdrawn and more than a little helpless. He would complain about having her around, and then go out of his way to do things for her. Dylan seemed sweet, but Honey was a bore.
Throughout Honey Pie , I found myself wondering when the plot might appear. I really though there had to be more to the story than just Honey annoying Dylan until he fell in love with her. Sadly, there never was. The only real conflict to speak of should have been the trouble with Honey’s aunt’s shop already being leased out. I thought it would be more of a challenge for her dealing with the bakery owners and getting the legal matters settled. However, the only time that Honey goes to handle the legalities of her aunt’s estate, we totally miss it. The issue of the real estate is settled quickly and easily because Dylan magically owns a retail space. In fact, that was mentioned in the second chapter so I wasn’t even concerned about Honey’s problems. It was already obvious where the story was going.
If you’re wanting a sexy, foodie romance, like the description of Honey Pie implies, this really isn’t your book. There’s no tasty descriptions or yummy love story. Instead, this is a wordy, dull story about a psychic having a rather average relationship with a mechanic.