Nothing to Lose
Having failed at multiple service industry jobs, Jessie Robinson decides to make one more last-ditch attempt at saving her crashing life by applying to work at a bakery. Even though she doesn’t have any experience as a baker. Well, she had no experience as a waitress or grocery bagger, either, and her favourite childhood memories are of the times she hid from her hectoring family in the kitchen with the cook. Plus, she HAS seen the Food Network a few times, so why not? With a one month left to pay the rent on her apartment, car payments due and only two hundred dollars in the bank, she’s desperate. Fortunately, Heather Cooper, the owner of the bakery, ignores her very vague resume but notices the smoking hot chemistry between her son and Jessie when they meet in the middle of Jessie’s interview. After Jessie combines her childhood memories with a basic recipe for blueberry muffins, and in light of her hard luck story Heather and Travis are sufficiently wowed enough to hire her as an assistant. Jessie soon finds herself learning on the job, re-discovering her skills as a figure sculptor – and fighting her attraction to Travis.
Travis’s life is busy enough as it is. He’s a fireman three days a week, and doesn’t need to be keeping an eagle eye on this new kid who has no idea how to use a flower nail. But Jesse is lovely and sweet, and even though the company has a no-fraternization rule Travis is tempted to break it and allow himself a personal life at last. After all, his mom keeps complaining about his prolonged bachelorhood. But will Jessie have the gumption to step into an independent life of her own and have the mettle to make Travis hers forever?
There’s one big problem with Nothing to Lose, and that’s the heroine. Jessie is, to sum things up, something of a helpless dolt at the start of the book. She doesn’t know how to correctly separate colors when she does the wash, and she cannot wait tables or bag groceries, and she has no idea that one should make a cake by combining the dry ingredients separately from the wet. The reason for this turns out to be that she’s the pampered child of a rich family with a controlling mother, which caused me to facepalm. Even rich kids have some basic life skills, and while I can easily relate to a heroine who’s trying to step out on her own and learn how to be an adult, the helpless, bumbly, TSTL heroine stereotype needed to die in the 90s. She does slowly grow up and start to behave like an adult. It just takes a while to get there.
I enjoyed Travis much more, and his dual jobs make him interesting. He felt like your average, everyday guy and I wanted him to find love. His relationship with his mom is touching, too.
The romance itself is all right, springing forward in a cute way and building pleasantly, but my biggest problem is that it lacks true conflict, and what little the story provides arises from Travis’ stubborn self-imposed rules and Jessie’s flighty past, the latter of which occurs so late in the story you know it won’t make much of a difference to them. It does, however, manage to make Jessie look like a jerk of epic proportions and Travis ridiculous. There is also a lovely very minor secondary romance for Heather and Jessie’s landlord Angelo.
The writing is decent and the best parts of the book are the descriptions of the multitude of cakes and pastries Jessie and Travis sculpt.
Nothing to Lose is a pleasant enough read in the end; folksy and quick. But Jessie’s presence provides a bit of a heavy slog for the reader, making the story less than sweet.