How to Bake a Perfect Life

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How to Bake a Perfect Life

Soon to be forty-year-old Ramona loves having her own bakery business, but it seems that every time she thinks she might be able to pull a profit, something else breaks and drains her bank account drastically. She would do anything to keep her business running, but it seems that it’s getting harder and harder to accomplish that goal every day.
But keeping her business afloat isn’t the only thing she’s dealing with on a daily basis. Her daughter, Sofia, is pregnant and about to have her first baby. This should be a joyous time for everyone, but it isn’t. Sofia’s husband, Oscar, is in the military and has just become severely wounded while at war. Sofia is summoned to fly to Germany where her husband has been sent for medical care. Before she leaves, she discusses with her mother what she should do with her step-daughter, Katie, who she’s expecting to arrive in a few days to live with her and Oscar when he finishes his tour in the military. Katie is from Oscar’s previous marriage and his ex-wife is an addict who’s now in rehab yet again. Since Sofia needs to be on an emergency flight to Germany, she asks her mom if she would even consider allowing Katie to live with her until she knows what’s happening with Oscar. Ramona feels bad for Katie and lets her stay with her.
When Sofia arrives in Germany, she’s shocked at what she sees. Her husband isn’t conscious yet and is in serious condition. She’ll do anything to have him pull through this, but she doesn’t know how she’s going to make it since she’s so close to her due date and now he’s in critical care. She knows that Katie is in good hands with Ramona so that’s at least one burden she doesn’t have to deal with right now.
Poor Ramona has quite a bit on her plate at the moment and nothing seems to be working in her favor. But as the days pass and she starts getting to know Katie, she is determined to provide a comfortably stable home for Katie no matter what she has to do to accomplish this for her. This will help Sofia out tremendously in the process and hopefully Katie will start adjusting to a loving environment that she could learn from and be comfortable in, unlike the home she lived in with her addict mother before she was taken away to the rehab facility.
Do things work out for everyone in the end? Does everyone get through their problems and become closer or does the stress pull them apart?
I thought this was a fantastic story that pulled me in immediately and held me until the very end. There was so much turmoil that everyone was trying to get through and I had hoped it would only strengthen their relationships in the end for all of them. So much was happening in such a short time that my heart ached for them to start having some peace of mind before they each found their own breaking point. The story was quite gripping and the characters were well-rounded so feeling as if they were my friends wasn’t a problem. The story was completely believable and I had no problem finding myself a part of each character’s life as I turned each page. If you’re looking for a great read that will pull you in from the first page and carry you through until the very last line, than you have found the perfect book to read. Well done, Ms. O’Neal.

Book Blurb for How to Bake a Perfect Life

In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.

When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.

Ramona relies upon a special set of tools—patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe—when rebellious Katie arrives. And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own. 

Night Owl Reviews Nov, 2010 4.00