After losing a rigged cooking show competition — and a potential lover — to another baker, Frederic Jackson packs up his considerable baggage and moves to Bluewater Bay. He uses the network’s hush money to buy a new bakery where he hopes the small town’s revitalized economy will let him start anew.
Blaire Caruthers never wanted to work for his father at Caruthers Industries. He should have known that fixing the company’s show results was a mistake, and that choosing another man over kind, generous Frederic was an even bigger one. But the damage is done. As punishment, he’s been sent to Bluewater Bay to oversee the company’s interest in Wolf’s Landing merchandise.
Stuck in a small, nowhere town doing a job he hates, Blaire wants nothing more than to prove to Frederic he’s changed. However, Frederic struggles to trust the man who betrayed him once already. As Blaire loses ground with his father, and Frederic starts falling back into self-destructive habits, they both have to find the balance and control that’s been missing from their lives.
I believe this is my first book by Jaime Samms, but I certainly hope it’s not my last because I really enjoyed the author’s writing. While Samms is by no means a new author, this is the author’s first contribution to the Bluewater Bay series, but you would never know it with how well How the Cookie Crumbles fits with the series. There are two types of books in the Bluewater Bay series: those that have strong ties to the television show Wolf’s Landing and those that are set in the town of Bluewater Bay. This book falls into the second category and I have found that while I enjoy both types equally, How the Cookie Crumbles may just be one of my favorites.
What made this book so compelling to me was how the author dealt with the sensitive subject of addiction. The self-destructive habits of Frederic’s that are referenced in the blurb are related to him having an addictive personality. Over the course of the novel, we learn that there was a time in his life when Freddie turned to alcohol and illegal substances to deal with things in his life that were out of his control, but he was fortunate enough to get and accept the help he needed. And yes, I’m being purposely vague so as not to spoil the read too much for potential readers. But the author uses this book to show how people can trade one addiction for another and those close to them often don’t see it because the “replacement” addiction is legal and often productive. As someone who, like many in my family, has an addictive personality, I appreciated how the author was able to use Freddie’s situation as a teaching-without-preaching opportunity to show how seemingly healthy behaviors can be used to feed an addiction. I was fortunate that I learned by example, and was able to channel my addictive personality into socially acceptable endeavors – school, work, couponing, reading, etc. – and never followed the path that Freddie took. Because I recognized myself in Freddie, this made the book even more meaningful for me.
Being able to connect with Freddie made watching Blaire work so hard to earn his trust back that much more meaningful. Ass the book is presented from both characters’ points of view, I had an advantage over Freddie because I knew that Blaire was sincere in his efforts to make amends. Witnessing Blaire swallow his pride time and time again in an effort to earn his way back into Freddie’s life was at times amusing, heartbreaking, frustrating, and absolutely lovely to read. And, of course, hot as heck when Freddie finally gave him a second chance and the heat between them was allowed to simmer. Freddie’s secret was an unexpected surprise that ratcheted things up a bit too. While realistic, the manner in which Freddie was forced to recognize that he needed help from his friends and just how many people in Bluewater Bay he could count on was a little distressing. But in the end, Samms made sure that Freddie found his balance, Blaire found his way, and Blaire’s father was put firmly in his place when it came to their relationship – loved it! How the Cookie Crumbles was an excellent addition to the series and I can’t wait to read more.