The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
When Olivia's Baked Alaska goes awry, setting the famous Boston restaurant she works for on fire, she flees to the refuge of her best friend Hannah's home in the country in Guthrie, VT. Her love life, and now her career, in tatters, she decides to stay a while and figure out what her next step should be. She takes a job as the baker for a small hotel, a much different position from the busy kitchen of one of the country's top restaurants where she received accolades and was featured in magazines. She finds she enjoys the quiet rhythm, though, and she begins to bond with members of the community.
Livvy bonds with one member of the community, Martin, the son of a local farmer who is home helping his father as he slowly fades from cancer. In addition to a budding relationship with Martin, Livvy grows close to her cantankerous boss, Margaret, and vows to help Margaret win the local apple pie competition, which she won for years, but has now lost to her lifelong rival the last three years. As Margaret and Livvy grow closer, Livvy learns Margaret's thwarted love story and she works all the harder to help vindicate Margaret and reclaim the prize.
Just when things are settling down, though, Livvy's ex shows up and Martin shies away. Then Martin's father passes away and Livvy meets a woman claiming to be Martin's fiancé at the funeral. Livvy has just found out she's pregnant with Martin's child and she runs without telling him. The next six months are rough as Livvy wades through grief and depression and pregnancy on her own back in Boston. Eventually she returns to Guthrie and to Margaret where they find a way to work things out.
Charming and touching, this novel is an absolute delight. Miller is a professional baker herself, and I adored the foodie/baker touches throughout the story. Livvy's character is wonderfully developed and the story has a fantastic arc as you watch her grow and change throughout the novel. Martin is lovable and attractive and flawed- he's very well-written. Margaret was harder for me to love, even when Livvy found a way to understand her and crack through her crusty exterior, but we all know someone like her and she was believable. The setting is charming and Miller has done a wonderful job of bringing the Vermont countryside to life through the seasons with the pie competition at the fair being especially charming. Readers who love a good story about someone overcoming loss and finding their footing again, with a sweet romance thrown in, will love this story, and I heartily recommend it!