Author: B.K. Borison
What I’m Talking About:
As a professional baker I was really looking forward to main character Layla Dupree’s book, Mixed Signals. Layla owns and runs a bakery, The Bakehouse, located on Lovelight Farm, a Christmas tree and working farm in Inglewild, Maryland. The farm has a reputation for sparking romance and marriage proposals. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this one. It just didn’t live up to the precedent set by the first two books in the Lovelight Farms series. Lovelight Farms and In the Weeds were charming and sweet with a slow burn as we got to know the characters and the town with a cast of quirky townsfolk. My biggest issue with Mixed Signals was that by the end of the book, I didn’t really know anything more about Layla than I got from the book description. She doesn’t interact with her family, who doesn’t understand her decision to open a bakery, and the main characters from the first two books come and go infrequently. We don’t see her really interact with the townsfolk Borison worked so hard to create.
From previous books we know Layla followed Stella from college to Lovelight Farms and fell into the bakery business, not so much a conscious choice. She has since embraced it and loves her bakery, her job, and her location, but she would very much like to be in love. To that end she has had a series of really bad dates over a long time. Enter Caleb Alvarez who was a deputy but was fired because he was too nice and now teaches Spanish summer school at the local high school. Oddly random, but okay. Caleb has an intrusive but lovable family. He helps his students write love letters that are better than the lyrics of Justin Bieber songs. He is also super hot, but Layla never noticed (even though he was in her bakery for butter croissants and coffee three days a week like clockwork) until he saves her from an especially bad date. Sometimes it takes seeing someone out of our usual element before we really see them.
Caleb hasn’t been having much luck in the dating department either. He’s too nice. They decide to enter into an agreement to date each other for the sake of giving each other feedback on their dating strengths and weaknesses. Contrived, not a new idea, but okay, we’ll go with it. What follows is mostly sexy thoughts and sexy acts. Not much building of their relationship or getting to know them individually outside of their physical relationship. They go on some humorous dates which we see as failures from Caleb’s perspective. We know Layla enjoys herself, but we don’t get her thoughts on why or what she finds endearing. More than anything from Layla’s perspective, it seems to be their physical relationship which brings them together.
*Spoiler Alert* I was hoping for a really good ending. It does have a happy ending, but the crisis felt so manufactured. This confident, independent businesswoman who has had the courage and hope to date a series of not-Mr-Rights, who stands up to her family when they don’t understand her decisions, who has been dating and having sex with a super-hot guy really nice guy, suddenly has no confidence in herself. She makes Caleb, who has already professed his feelings for her, keep coming to her bakery three days a week to prove that he really does love her—because the month of dating and conversations and sex before that didn’t say as much??
Borison’s writing is reliably good. She can capture and hold the reader’s attention. Perhaps that is one reason I was let down, I was expecting more from her. The final crisis felt manufactured and out of place to me. I believe this is the end of the trilogy, but there are additional characters in Inglewood should Borison wish to explore those relationships. Despite my disappointment with Mixed Signals, I would be willing to read those more in the series if Borison is inclined to write them.
My Rating: C+
About the Book:
Layla Dupree has given up on love. She’s waded through all the fish in the sea, each one more disappointing than the last. Apparently, owning the bakery at Inglewild’s most romantic destination does not help one’s love life—despite Layla’s best efforts. All she wants is a partner who gives her butterflies, not someone who ghosts her at dinner and leaves her with the check.
Good thing Caleb Alvarez has the perfect solution. After saving Layla from another date gone bad, he has a simple proposition: one month of no-strings dating. He’ll do his best to renew her faith in men while she rates his romantic game. It’s a win-win situation. All the benefits of dating without the added pressure of feelings and unmet expectations.
But there’s one ingredient they haven’t considered. The chemistry between them is red-hot, and the urge to take things to the next level is more tempting than Layla’s mocha fudge brownies.
Release Date: August 1, 2023
Series: Lovelight #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (336 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher / NetGalley
Amazon (affiliate link)