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About The Book

You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Coincidence of Coconut Cake includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



The last thing Lou, a talented and tireless Milwaukee chef, expects to lose when she dumps her cheating fiancé is her beloved restaurant, Luella’s. But when an off night in the kitchen—fueled by heartbreak and frustration—coincides with an anonymous visit from an exacting critic from the local newspaper, one scathing review is all it takes to see her promising business suddenly facing closure.

As the city’s most infamous restaurant critic, Al prefers to keep his professional identity a secret. A recent transplant from England, he runs into Lou as she’s drowning her sorrows in a pub and playfully challenges her to show him the best of Milwaukee. As Al and Lou explore the sights and sounds of her hometown, they begin to fall for each other—until Al realizes that it was his review that put the future of Luella’s in jeopardy. When the truth comes out, the two star-crossed foodies must find a way to overlook the past in order to forge a new future together.


Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. It’s clear from the opening chapter of the book that Devlin and Lou have divergent plans for the future. What do you think drew them together in the first place? Did you find Devlin, with his good looks and promise of financial stability, alluring or stifling?

2. Lou considers the following quote: “Delight is indeed born in the heart. It sometimes also depends on its surroundings.” Do you think this holds true throughout the book? How do Al and Lou’s surroundings impact their happiness? Do you think that your surroundings dictate your own happiness? Or is your perception and attitude more important?

3. Both Al and Lou have fond memories of their grandmothers’ cooking, from Luella’s famous coconut cake to the rusty cast iron skillet that Al still holds dear. What are some of your favorite culinary memories or traditions? How have they evolved—or not—over the years?

4. As Lou plays tour guide to Al and opens him up to a wealth of new experiences, she gradually smooths over his gruff exterior. How does your perception of Al change throughout the book? Was there a specific moment where you started to find him more likeable?

5. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is as much a love letter to Milwaukee as it is the love story of Lou and Al. What is your favorite stop on Lou’s tour of the city? Which of their meals are you most eager to try?

6. Devlin says to Lou, “I may shape and bend the facts in my favor or make tactful omissions, but I don’t lie.” Were you surprised to hear Devlin’s explanation for the scantily clad intern in his apartment? Do you think he was telling the whole truth?

7. What do you think about Al’s decision to keep his identity a secret from Lou, particularly after he learns that Luella’s is her restaurant? Are his lies more forgivable than Devlin’s behavior? How would you have handled the situation if you were in Al’s shoes?

8. Lou reflects on the fate of Luella’s: “The fault was hers and hers alone. Taking responsibility gave her the control. Taking responsibility gave her hope she would find happiness again.” What do you make of this sentiment? Do you think that Lou is being too hard on herself—that she’s just the victim of circumstance—or is she to blame for the restaurant’s closure?

9. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake features a vibrant cast of secondary characters, from John, the fashionista in disguise, to Harley, the loveable, tattooed pastry chef. Who is your favorite secondary character? How does he or she influence events or help to move the story along?

10. Gertrude emphasizes the importance of second chances to Lou. “Don’t let your heart get too hard,” she says. “[Al] made you happy. That was not an act. Try to forgive him, promise me.” Do you agree with Gertrude’s belief that a person deserves forgiveness as long as his or her intentions are good? What personal experiences have shaped your own attitude toward second chances?

11. What do you think the future holds for Lou’s new restaurant? What important lessons has she learned from Luella’s?

12. While the story of Luella’s is fictional, it’s not uncommon for a new restaurant to fail because of negative press—particularly in the age of crowd-sourced online reviews. Did the book make you more sympathetic to the plight of struggling business owners and the impact of online reviews?


Enhance Your Book Club

1. Host a book club potluck! Have each member bring his or her favorite family dish and describe the origin of the recipe.

2. Plan a day of sightseeing or activities in your hometown. What would you want an out-of-towner to eperience?

3. Have each book club member write a review praising his or her favorite restaurant—or emulate A.W. Wodyski and pan a terrible meal.

4. Learn more about author Amy Reichert by visiting her website or following her on Facebook ( and/or Twitter (@aereichert). 

About The Author

Photograph by Kelly Johnsen

Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, The Simplicity of Cider, and The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go, loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her local library’s board of directors.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (July 21, 2015)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501100727

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Raves and Reviews

"Deliciously entertaining! Amy E. Reichert's voice is warm and funny in this delightful ode to second chances and the healing power of a meal cooked with love."

– Meg Donohue, USA Today bestselling author of DOG CRAZY and ALL THE SUMMER GIRLS

"Amy E. Reichert writes like your best friend and reading her words is like having that friend whisper them into your ear. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delicious story of food, love, and a wink at what people will do to have their cake and eat it, too."

– Ann Garvin, author of THE DOG YEAR and MAGGIE'S WATCH

"Amy E. Reichert whips up the perfect recipe for a deliciously fun read. Combine humor and romance with a dash of drama, then let it simmer. The sprinkle of Wisconsin pride is icing on an already irresistable cake. Warning: do not read this book hungry!"

– Elizabeth Eulberg, author of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB and BETTER OFF FRIENDS

“What a wonderful treat! Delicious descriptions of food and love and Milwaukee (I know! Who knew?). A sweet, endearing read.”

– Megan Mulry, USA Today Bestselling Author of A ROYAL PAIN

"The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a smart and delicious debut—a read as satisfying as the last bite of dessert after a lovingly-prepared meal. The novel is as much a celebration of the midwest and regional food as it is a love story between chef Lou and food critic Al. I adored Lou and her quirky makeshift family of restaurant customers and co-workers. Their missteps and milestones kept me racing through the chapters, craving another course."

– Susan Gloss, author of the novel VINTAGE

"Amy Reichert brings sweetness and substance to her delicious debut. Sign me up for second helpings!"

– Lisa Patton, bestselling author of WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER

“Amy E. Reichert takes the cake with this charming tale of food, friendship, and fate.”

– Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME

“…Reichert's quirky and endearing debut skillfully and slyly examines identity and community while its characters find love in surprising places. Clever, creative, and sweetly delicious.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"A delectable novel."

– Bookreporter

“Highly recommended that you eat before reading this book…a light, fun read that feels a bit like eating dessert for dinner.”

– RT Book Reviews

"Well-developed secondary characters and detailed descriptions of the Milwaukee food scene will leave readers hungry for more. Fans of Stacey Ballis and Erica Bauermeister will find lots to love."

– Booklist

"This is a fun read peppered with dashes of humor, dollops of sadness and drizzles of sensuality."

– All You Magazine

“Light, fun, and easily digestible, this sweet romance is worthy of second helpings.”

– Real Simple

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