I love a good punny title.
Every man in the Buchanan family is cursed. Not by bad luck or hardship, by love. Everyone in the family falls prey to a curse that makes you fall in love at first sight to your one true love. Levi’s father and brother fell to this spell, and Levi, who always thought it was a load of malarkey, is now suffering the same way. While normally love is a wonderful thing, Levi went and fell in love with the only girl he can’t have; his best friend Jocelyn “Joss” Abernathy.
Joss and Levi have been friends for years and years. Levi actually asked Joss out once before but she turned him down at the time, saying she didn’t need a boyfriend, she just needed a friend. For five years Levi has known Joss was the one and said nothing, waiting silently and being her friend until the right moment. While neither Joss or Levi have seriously dated, a new, handsome guy comes to town and shows an interest in Joss and she contemplates a relationship for the first time. Is this new guy a potential partner, or do all the signs point to Levi as being her soulmate?
I was pleasantly surprised with this novel! Normally I don’t love friends to lovers romance very much as I find it tends to walk the “friendzone is bad!” line way too thinly for my taste and makes everything into the female character’s fault, but this one had some really good explanations and payoffs for our main characters actions. This book is written in a revolving style in which we get a chapter from Levi immediately followed by a chapter from Joss. The author does a great job of distinguishing two different voices and characters here, not making us relive every conversation from dual perspectives, which is a big pet peeve of mine when it comes to books with two narrators.
Another interesting aspect of this novel is that our main protagonist Joss, is a disabled woman who is a wheelchair user. I really loved that the description of the book did not state this in the summary, because when I got to the part that explained this, it really picked up my interest in the book. So often disabled people are not given a platform in society and even FAR less in the romance genre. I honestly cannot think of another romance novel I’ve read recently that featured a character with a physical disability in a lead romance role and not as a quirky friend. The author states in the notes that while she is not disabled herself, she did a lot of research into the particular cause for Joss’ disability and had a sensitivity reader go through the book to make sure everything was accurate and not offensive to the disabled community. I think sensitivity readers are an AWESOME thing to have at your disposal as an author, many of my friends do this as a side hustle, so it’s fantastic to see writers in the romance novel world taking advantage of their abilities.
Joss was such an awesome character I really wish there was another book about where her life goes after the conclusion. She was confident, spunky, but also allowed herself to be vulnerable when she needed to. I absolutely loved her as a character and considering romance is often such a contrived genre, her reasoning behind not dating and her self-esteem issues was entirely believable and well written. By the end she really felt like a character I wanted to know in person, and I was so impressed by that aspect of the book.
The romance angle is fine in this, I actually enjoyed how quickly the truth came out regarding their feelings for one another and that the rest of the book concerned itself more with how to navigate those feelings. Often romance is the build up to the get together payoff and little of the after. This one has a good mix of both elements, and I was actually more interested in the couple figuring their future out after they had gotten together than when they were still in constant pining mode.
This book is a standalone in a series, but the entire thing takes place in Green Valley, a fictional town created by author Penny Reid. Her series in this town was so popular, she’s now allowing other authors to write stories that take place in this fictional town, which I think it’s pretty cool. I’m honestly upset none of the other books in this series follow the character of Joy, who I probably loved most after Joss. It seemed like a natural segway for Joy to be the star of book 2 and the fact that she’s not is honestly ridiculous.
Overall a really fun romance novel by an author I wasn’t aware of, and it did not disappoint.
Title: Baking Me Crazy
Author: Karla Sorensen
Three Descriptors: Honest, Warm, Realistic