Battle Royal

Avon. (Palace Insiders, Bk. 1). Aug. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780063040069. pap. $15.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Parker (“London Celebrities” series) launches a new London-based series starring baker Sylvie Fairchild. Following a rather infamous run on the competitive baking show Operation Cake a few years previously, Sylvie Fairchild has leveraged her knack for sugar and whimsy into a brick-and-mortar bakery in Notting Hill, with a popular cocktail classroom in the basement. The only unfortunate thing about the location is the proximity to Operation Cake’s unfeeling judge Dominic De Vere and his own, more traditional bakery. When the show is in need of a new judge, it turns to Sylvie, who is apprehensive but knows her shop could use the financial and marketing boost. Dominic, who believes in clean lines and sticking to foundational techniques and truths, is already dreading the tons of glitter that contestants are sure to use to try to impress Sylvie. The two are professionals, though, and grudgingly begin to work together despite their aesthetic and emotional differences. When rumors of an impending royal wedding become reality, both Sylvie’s and Dominic’s bakeries are in the running to create the historic cake. As they bump into each other on set and during their quest to design the perfect royal cake, their competition slowly morphs into a surprisingly heated companionship.
VERDICT With a perfect trifecta of endearing characters, superb use of the enemies-to-lovers trope, and a chemistry-laden slow burn, this excellent start to Parker’s newest series is one readers will rush to dive into.
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