Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell

Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love
Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell


Favorite Quote: “What was wrong with us that people kept leaving?”

Molly Hagan is having a bad day. Her husband has not only left her for a younger woman but has also lost his job in the process. With a small child to care for and no steady income, Molly needs to step up her game. When an old friend offers her a plum position of writing copy for an up and coming bakery, Molly jumps in feet first only to find herself swiftly rethinking her plans when the job threatens to overwhelm her. Engaging in a battle of wits and scones keeps Molly on her toes once romance rears it’s fickle head in the form of sexy British baker,Simon but Molly isn't interested in love until a certain snarly business partner, Nick, enters the fray. Molly  begins to settle and begins to imagine a silver lining might be in her future but soon learns that happily ever after isn’t always as easy to get as it is to write.

First off, I must let you all know that Megan Caldwell, aka, Megan Frampton, is my boss at She at no time approached me to review her novel. I requested on Edelweiss and was approved by HarperCollins.

Megan Caldwell’s debut release, Vanity Fare, gives us an intimate ring side seat into the life of Molly Hagen as she deals with divorce, finances, employment, and suddenly becoming a single parent. Liberally laced with humor and grace, I found myself laughing and nodding as Molly slowly finds herself again after 20 plus years of being a married stay at home wife and mother. I enjoyed the fact that we aren’t inundated with off the cuff plot gimmicks or implausible situations as Molly begins to live and deal with being alone. The literary pun angle was cute and added a touch of whimsical to the story. What I really enjoyed about Vanity Fare is that the heroine is a 40 year old woman. Too often it’s the young, gorgeous 20 somethings who get the romance and HEA and the older women are regulated to the  “wise, advice giving friend” role. Divorce is hard enough but it’s even harder when you're tossed aside for someone younger. Caldwell doesn’t sugar coat the ups and downs of divorce for the sake of an HEA in here. She shows us it’s messy, heartbreaking, unfair, and presents it all clearly and without apology.

Character driven, it’s the fast pacing and conversational style writing that enhances the appeal of this story. All the characters are delightfully flawed and engaging. Caldwell has a gift for drawing out her character’s personalities and producing a cast that is not only appealing but familiar. I saw a little of everyone I know in each of them. Aiden, Molly’s six year old, helps seal the deal with his impetuousness and love of Pokemon. Molly’s mother provides an excellent look at turbulent parental relationships and the way love and forgiveness can often heal breaches.Molly’s  bff has her back always and she meets some new friends and discovers a new hobby that produces some interesting results.

The romance reveals at a delightfully speed as Molly tries to suss out her attraction to one man while reluctantly dating another. I found her dates with Simon to be humorous while I fell in love with Nick myself. It all develops slowly and though some situations aren’t perfect, they are genuine. I liked that Molly isn’t portrayed as needing to find a replacement for her ex husband to save her. She understands, correctly, that she isn’t in a good place right now and her family and financial needs take precedence over her physical ones.  Yet, she has wants, needs, and reading her thoughts on those will bring a chuckle.

Molly’s journey towards financial and emotional independence is a wonderfully witty, charming, and yummy tale that is sure to appeal to readers and foodies alike. Caldwell’s debut is a winner across the board and a perfect addition for everyone’s romance shelf.

Overall Rating: B

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