A MelanieM Review: The Baker (Workplace Encounters #6) by Serena Yates

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Baker CoverIan Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in the family-owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.

Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.

The Baker by Serena Yates is the first I’ve read in her Workplace Encounters series but I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to search out the rest.  The Baker charts the romance of  Scottish family baker Ian Wallace and Det. Cameron Lewis of the Casper, Wyoming police department.  This story manages to bring in Scottish baking and recipes, a Tartan Day and Hogmanay celebrations and rituals, and the pain and anguish of growing up under un-demonstrative  and autocratic father and makes it all gel together.

At first I had a difficult time getting a handle on Ian’s character.  At times he comes across as naive and younger emotionally than his age of late 20’s.  Then during other scenes, he acts accordingly to his age level.  I had to decide if his actions were reasonable and did they fit into his history as we knew it?  I came to the conclusion that someone who had grown up under in such a restrictive family, with such rigid expectations impressed upon them and with little love shown during their formative years, that his actions, however, odd at times, felt about right.

That one issue dealt with, I could concentrate on the romance and altogether charming interactions between Ian and Cam.  Their steps towards happiness and love were as touching as they were hesitant.  I appreciated the give and take between them and the fact that the men actually discussed important issues such as how open they were going to be about their relationship and the steps they were willing to take in getting to know each other better before making any important decisions.  It felt believable and realistic, given the place and backgrounds.

One more element I enjoyed, the fact that Cameron’s police department was not a hotbed of homophobia.  I don’t think any of us can separate the words Wyoming and Matthew Shepard in our hearts and minds but I hope that plays like the Laramie Project and other actions can make such an open-minded squad as much a reality as it is here in this story.  So yes, I adored his partner and fellow officers and the part they played in Cam and Ian’s romance.  Just lovely.

Finally, I enjoyed the Scottish baking recipes and traditions that the author folded into her story.  It added depth and interest to an already engaging romance.  Plus it gave me things to research…something I always get a kick out of.

Not familiar with Serena Yates or her Workplace Encounters  series?  Start with The Baker!  Its charming, its characters loving and believable, and their romance and climb towards a relationship is heartwarming.  I recommend it and look forward to reading more stories in this series.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is lovely.  I think that design is fun and captures the essence of the character and his passion, even if I doubt his father ever let him look like that inside his shop.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance |  Amazon |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 133 pages
Published July 15th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 1st 2015)
ISBN139781634762113
edition languageEnglish
seriesWorkplace Encounters #6
charactersCameron Lewis, Ian Wallace

Workplace Encounters Series with Goodreads links:

 

Guest Blog by Serena Yates. Tartan Day and “The Baker”, her latest release (excerpt and giveaway)

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AboutTheBook

 

Title: The Baker
Series: Workplace Encounters
Author: Serena Yates

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Length: 40000 words
Release Date: July 15, 2015

Tartan Day by Serena Yates

Following my previous guest posts about “How The Baker was Born” and “Scottish Baking”, I thought it might be fun to talk about Tartan Day. It’s not a widely known event as far as I am aware, but I came across it as I was doing research into Scottish baking and holidays.

Tartan Day plays a central role in Ian and Cameron’s story. In the book, Ian’s friend Matthew, son of Casper’s mayor, is the one to first explain what it is and how it might be significant.

“I think you may need help with that.” A man with unkempt dark hair and sparkling green eyes pops into my virtual chair this time. He might be anywhere between twenty and thirty, and his comfortable jeans and slightly wrinkled shirt confirm that he doesn’t pay a lot of attention to appearances.

“And you are?” I lean forward, curious to find out more about him.

“I’m Matthew Tadman. Ian and I have been friends since high school.” He grins and settles in.

“Ah, got it.” A secondary character for the book, then. “I can’t say I expected you to drop by.”

“Oh well, you know how it is.” Matthew rakes his hair. “My restaurant keeps me busy, but there is the occasional break. I thought I’d come see you to make sure you get the story right. And also, nobody is going to find me here.”

“I guess not.” I pull out my pen and notepad, ready to get going. “So, what would you like to talk about?”

“Tartan Day.” Matthew looks at me as if I’m supposed to know what he’s talking about.

I raise an eyebrow. “I think you’ll need to be a little more explicit.”

* Tartan Day parade in New York City

“Tartan day is a celebration of Scottish heritage on April 6, the day of the declaration of Scottish independence made in a letter to the pope in 1320. Some people say it’s because the American version was modeled on it, and almost half of the signers of our Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent. But that may just be a theory.” Matthew drew himself up to sit straighter.

“It’s a nice theory.” I am wondering where Matthew will be going with this. “But I’ve never heard of it, is it just me?”

“Probably not. It’s mostly celebrated in big cities that have large groups of people with Scottish ancestry. Some event in New York in the early eighties started it all. The celebration first spread to Canada, but didn’t really become official in the US until the Senate okayed it in 1998, followed by Congress declaring April 6 ‘National Tartan Day’ in 2005. Then there was a presidential declaration in 2008.” Matthew wave his hand dismissively, as if details don’t matter. “It’s celebrated with parades, pipes, drums, dancing, food, and whatever else people come up with.”

“So what does that have to do with Casper, Wyoming, and Ian’s story?” I am slightly puzzled but at the same time am beginning to think this could provide an excellent backdrop to Ian’s struggle against his dictatorial father with his antiquated ideas.

“My father thinks it’s time to bring it to Wyoming, since we have a fairly high percentage of Scottish Americans here. He has been working on the official Casper activities and events calendar for next year and has decided, in his infinite wisdom, that we need some more ‘diverse’ holidays so we can attract more tourists outside the current February sled dog races and all the summertime festivals and rodeos.” Matthew shrugs. “I’m not sure it will work, but with the competition he is panning, it might be interesting.”

“Competition?” Now we’re talking!

“Yeah.” Matthew nodded. “He wants to make it a competition, similar to an agricultural or country fair, and he said it will be limited to members of the younger generation. To show we all have a future, or something.”

“Hmmm, that could work.” Ideas begin summersaulting through my brain. ‘It’ll be great advertising for the Scottish Bakehouse and enable Ian to confront his father on a professional level.”

“I can see I got you going.” Matthew grins and begins to fade. “I’ll leave you to it.”

“Yes, yes.” But my mind is already working on the details of what I can do with this information. I can see a few plot twists coming…

You can find out more about the book’s development in my upcoming final guest post during this tour, as well as read six totally exclusive short excerpts.
Serena Yates
http://www.serenayates.com

Blurb:

Ian Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in their family owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.

Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.

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Just before nine things had slowed down to a manageable level, and Ian was about to take a short restroom break, leaving the store to Senga. But then the doorbell tinkled yet again, and the most gorgeous man Ian had ever laid eyes on walked into the store. He was tall, probably over six feet, had blond hair in a ruthless buzz cut, and his warm brown eyes invited Ian to trust him. The man was well built, muscular like a Marine, and wore a smart dark green suit, covered by an open black winter topcoat. His facial expression seemed guarded but curious as he looked around the store. Ian had the strangest feeling he was cataloging exits and potential sources of danger.

Thank God Senga was busy with a group of women unable to decide what they wanted so Ian had an excuse to talk to the guy.

“What can I do for you, sir?” Ian’s voice sounded suspiciously hoarse, and for the briefest moment, a spark of heat appeared in Mr. Good-looking’s eyes.

“I’ve never been to this bakery before….” The stranger trailed off as he examined Ian with the same curiosity and concentration he had used to assess the shop.

I know you haven’t. I’d definitely remember you!

“A colleague at the station recommended your stuff, so I came to have a look.” The stranger tilted his head. “You’ll probably laugh, since this is such a cliché, but I’m looking for donuts.”

“Station? Donuts?” Ian’s brain refused to function for a moment.

“Yeah, I’m a cop. Well, a detective actually, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I love donuts, and so do my colleagues.” The stranger laughed, and the deep, resonant sound thrilled Ian to his core.

“Ah. Right, well, we do sell donuts.” Ian pointed to the display. “It’s not a great selection, since most customers seem to come here for the more Scottish specialties, but I hope you can find some you like.”

“I’ll take two dozen, please.” Mr. Detective smiled. “And what else do you think I should get so my colleagues can find out about your wonderful work? It does smell amazing in here.”

“Thank you.” Ian started to put the donuts into a box and, without thinking, blurted out the first thing he could think of. “Would you like to try my buns?”

“Your… buns?” Mr. Detective’s eyebrows rose, a twinkle appeared in his eyes, and an amused smile curved his dark red lips.

“Yes. The black ones.” Ian pointed at the cakes, only to realize what the stranger must have meant when the man couldn’t stop grinning. Heaven above, was the gorgeous specimen of male beauty gay? But who else would have gotten the joke? Not that Ian had meant it as a joke. He was deep enough in the closet he didn’t know how to begin looking for the door, never mind find it. He definitely wouldn’t mind trying if this guy were on the other side, waiting for him. But Mr. Detective probably wasn’t out either, even if he were gay. A gay cop, or detective, wouldn’t make it out here in the wilds of Wyoming. Ian could feel himself blush even as he realized he was now babbling in his own head.

“Oh, I see.” Mr. Detective bent toward the black buns and grinned. “They look kinda cute. Are they as Scottish as they look with that flag painted on them?”

“Yes, they’re a traditional cake eaten during the traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Day.” Ian finished packing up the donuts, closed the box, and placed it on the counter. “Would you like to try one?”

“Yes, please. I have no idea what’s inside, but I like surprises. I’ll try to figure out what the ingredients are.” Mr. Detective looked back up. “Gives me a fun mystery to ponder.”

“Okay, I’ll get you one in a small box.” Ian wasn’t going to ask about the other mysteries, the not-so-fun ones, in the man’s life. He might be a homicide detective, and eww, Ian wasn’t going there. “Anything else I can get you?”

“Nah, I’m okay for now.” Mr. Detective grinned again. “But if your stuff tastes as good as it looks and smells, I’ll definitely be back. Can’t believe I’ve worked here for five years and have never noticed this place. Don’t tell anyone, or they’ll take my badge.”

Ian laughed as he rang up the purchase and took the guy’s money. As far as I’m concerned, you can come back anytime, Mr. Detective!

 

AboutTheAuthor

I’m a night owl and start writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.

Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there’s more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet.

I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending.

I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, traveling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages.

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