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12 Days of Holiday Romance Reviews and Recipes, Day 6: Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell

23835891I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. Sarah Wendell and Smart Bitches Trashy Books are most of the reason why I am the romance reader I am today. If you’re part of Romancelandia but don’t know about Smart Bitches Trashy Books, let me clue you in: five amazing women, a podcast, book reviews, historical recipes, travel porn and one of the best websites on the Internet. Sarah is the coolest, nicest, smartest, kindest person,¬† so I was so excited to read her book. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, however.

Genevieve and Jeremy are meeting up for a winter session at Meira, the camp that has become home to them over the years. They’ve gone from campers to counsellors together, doing some great prank along the way, but last summer, Jeremy left midway through camp, right after he and Genevieve kissed. She’s spent the last year wondering what whether there’s something more than friendship between them. As they gear up for another week of crafts and kids, this time against a snowy backdrop, will they finally figure out if they’re ready to take the next step in their relationship?

3.5 stars

I wanted to like this book so badly. I mean, it’s written by a romance queen! It’s also a friends-to-lovers romance, which is one of my favourite tropes, and it snows basically constantly, which is my ideal holiday romance. However, this one just didn’t work for me.

For one thing, Jeremy is way too immature. He screams “epic!” every five seconds, makes quips about Gen being a “wench,” seems incapable of maintaining a normal adult conversation most of the time that doesn’t involve some sort of yelling, yet he’s also supposed to be really sensitive? I just didn’t buy it. His immaturity made it hard to root for a romance between him and Gen, because Gen needs someone emotionally mature and fluent.

I also felt like we were missing some backstory. We find out that Gen’s parents have died and Jeremy and his dad, both funeral preparers in the Jewish tradition, took care of her parents’ while they were in the hospital and Gen was in a coma. But how did Gen not know that? Yes, she was in a coma for a bit, but wouldn’t she have found out at some point during the funeral that Jeremy and his dad had done the preparations? Wouldn’t Jeremy’s dad or someone else at the hospital have told her that?

I was also a bit confused about the timeline of Gen’s parents’ death, her going off to Iceland, and the summer that she and Jeremy kissed, which made it hard to understand where their relationship stood.

This is a romance leaning toward the “clean” side, i.e. no sex on the page, which is sad, because there was a scene near a fireplace in a cold cabin with some sleeping bag kissing that could have led to a very exciting sex scene.

I did like the way the book was structured around the nights of Hanukkah and I liked the summer camp setting. I’d definitely like to read more camp romances. And, of course, Sarah is a good writer. The book is worth a read.

There’s a scene in the book where Gen and Jeremy are eating dessert in the dining hall and one of the campers makes Jeremy a huge brownie sundae. Since I’ve already posted a brownie recipe on here for this review roundup, I thought I’d marry the brownie with the cookie and finally make Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, something that’s been on my to-bake list for ages. These come out fudgy and cakey and so delectable, and rolling them in powdered sugar is a fun way to mess up the kitchen. The recipe for them is below.


Vegan Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from the recipe by Fox on an Island


3/4 cup sugar (I used golden caster, but white caster or granulated would work here)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
1/3 non-dairy milk (I used soya milk)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered/icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F/160C and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the sugar, oil, honey, milk, flax seeds and chocolate chips in a bowl and mix to combine. Then, add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix, using either a spoon or the whisking attachment of an electric mixer.
  3. Pour the icing sugar into a small bowl.
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough, roll into a ball and then roll in the powdered sugar until completely covered and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used, and bake cookies for 12-18 minutes, until the surface is cracked.

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