Title: THE CAKE EFFECT
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 72,000
Lou is a talented chef in Milwaukee, struggling to keep her small French restaurant afloat while floundering in her fiancé's world of cocktail-infused schmooze fests. During the worst day of her life, she destroys a perfectly good coconut cake, leaves her fiancé, and nearly burns down her kitchen, earning her a nasty review from the local food critic.
Al Waters hates Milwaukee and hopes his scathing (and, to him, entertaining) restaurant reviews gain him a column in a real city, but not before he reconnects with the adorable coconut cake-toting woman he met in the newsstand line. When Al visits a local pub to celebrate his best critique yet, he finds the delightful and very drunk Lou, unaware she’s the chef he just skewered.
Lou accepts Al's challenge to show him what makes Milwaukee so great -- with the agreement they never discuss work. It’s the perfect arrangement for a critic with an alter ego. During their non-dates exploring the city's treasures, Lou’s restaurant declines while Al’s column becomes more popular. If her restaurant fails, she loses the one place she flourished. If Al can’t keep his identity secret, he could lose so much more.
Charming, delicious, and fun, The Cake Effect is You’ve Got Mail meets No Reservations.
Lou hoisted up her gown and winced as she tottered across the parking lot. The sparkly four-inch heels looked so pretty in the box, but now felt like a mortar and pestle grinding each bone in her foot. She missed her green Crocs.
Lou plucked at the tight elastic under her clothes, squeezing her into the sleek, black dress her fiancé had given her. She scurried to catch up with him.
"Overstuffed truffle and foie gras sausage," Lou said.
Dev’s face crinkled in confusion. "What?"
"It's a new dish, inspired by how I feel in these clothes. Maybe served over brown butter dumplings..." Lou tilted her head, visualizing the newly formed meal. Dev frowned at her and sighed.
She wilted at the familiar reaction. "I’m sorry. It helps distract me."
His features softened as he looked at her. "You’ll be fine. You look stunning."
Lou gave a feeble smile, stepping into the soft, yellow light of the Milwaukee Country Club's foyer, the cushy patterned carpet springing back with each step. Black-and-white pictures adorned the buttery walls, telling the club's regal history. Many showed eager young men in white standing behind wealthy gentlemen in funny pants. Hunger for something more burned in their eyes. Lou understood.
To the left waited the dining room, full of white-coated tables twinkling with polished silver and crystal water goblets. Lou glimpsed the swinging doors to the kitchen, beckoning her like an old friend.