Heartbreak Cake

Feb 24, 2015

The-Heartbreak-Cake-Photo-by-Yvonne-Condes“What are you daydreaming about?”

“I’m thinking about cake. Big, multilayered cakes that are squeezed in between more layers of buttercream or chocolate ganache.”

“How can you still be thinking about cake? I’ve had enough cake today to last me the week, if not more.”

“How dare you,” I tease…


When Cindy Arora, author of Heartbreak Cake, mentions in the dedication that her reading of Jackie Collins’ The Bitch was her hook—she actually writes, “I was never quite the same again”—I thought, uh-oh. Primarily because I’ve read only one Jackie Collins publication and after I slogged through the first third, I began speed reading—first line of a paragraph, last line of a paragraph—interested in the story enough to want to find out what happens but so annoyed by the quality of writing that I couldn’t stand to read every word, let alone the dialogue or to acknowledge the excessive use of italics and exclamation points. For example, by the second page of Collins’ newest release, The Goddess of Vengeance, readers have had to endure the phrases “juvenile skank” and “cheating rat” along with “surreptitious” glances and “a dangerously seductive woman.” And yet, the author of this has had every book of hers—all twenty-nine—on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold over 400 million book copies internationally, and is reportedly worth $180 million. “Yeah, yeah, rub it in.”

I’m happy to report that Cindy Arora is no Jackie Collins.

Heartbreak Cake is unabashedly chic lit, a lighthearted and quick read (I consumed it in a few hours), but Arora has command of the style. The writing reflects the genre without being cloyingly cute, trying-too-hard hip, or faux witty.

Indira Aguilar is in business with Pedro and they have invested all their funds in an “indie” bakery (I assume that means independent, as in not part of a chain, but sounds cooler) called Cake Pan Bakeshoppe, located in an up-and-coming hip, literary, and artsy part of Long Beach.

Indira has her faults and is going through the customary angst and life implosion, yet she is still a smart and talented woman who can “parallel park like a ninja.” The story has the bad boy lover, the jealous and vengeful woman, and the potential dreamboat, which is par for the course, but Arora’s hand at the helm keeps the story rolling and the characters engaging with dialogue that rings relatively true (or at least not decidedly false).

In one’s life story, there are scenes where you can actually see yourself making the wrong choice. You turn left instead of right, and you take one last lingering look behind you, but it’s too late. The choice has already been made. I knew I was supposed to get on that bus ride home and settle in for a night of chocolate, wine, and the Hallmark channel.

But I didn’t leave. I went back inside that restaurant with him, and I fell in love.

Yes, there are the split infinitives, the requisite chocolate references, and the “talking” directly to the reader, but that’s chic lit. Chic Lit Books defines chic lit as “a genre comprised of books that are mainly written by women for women.…There is usually a personal, light, and humorous tone to the books.…The plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues…told in a more confiding, personal tone. It’s like having a best friend tell you about her life.” And so it is written.

That summer I may have lost one love, but I ended up finding my true love. It just so happened to be butter.

Heartbreak Cake hits all the correct beats of the genre. It’s also humorous, endearing, snarky, fresh, charmingly “feel good,” and makes one yearn—even ache—for cake. For the right mood and moment, it’s a perfect snack.



Photo, top right: Heartbreak cake created by HERS Bakery; photo by Yvonne Condes at MomsLA Book Club Review.



Cindy Aurora

Cindy Aurora


From Arora’s “About Me” page:

I’m the mama of an adorable little boy who makes my heart melt every day.

I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years which means I still carry notepads in my back pocket, stick pens behind my ears and have been known to call the police department in the middle of the night to report a “perp.”

I’ve worked as a bartendar, cocktail waitress, shot girl, banquet server, ham carver, fromager, pastry assistant and coffee mistress.

I’m a native Angeleno and totally normal.

My favorite kind of pie is cherry.

I love anything wrapped in puff pastry.

I think cupcakes are ridiculously cute and always will.

I don’t date vegetarians. But I will go to music festivals with them.

I have two beautiful and creative sisters. and

I feel happiest living by the ocean. But don’t. Such is life.

I love happy endings.

The first book that made me realize I wanted to write about love and a girl’s journey was Fifteen by Beverly Clearly.

I am not afraid of calling myself a feminist, a chick lit writer or a whiskey enthusiast.

Cindy Arora was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register and Sacramento Magazine. She’s been published in SaveurTasting Table, Orange Coast Magazine and Fodor’s.

Heartbreak Cake is her debut novel.



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