The Baker's Apprentice
Judith R. Hendricks
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The Baker's Apprentice
Judith R. Hendricks
384 pages
March 2006
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Wynter Morrison has found her recipe for life making bread at Seattle's Queen Street Bakery. She's content with the direction her life is heading and is excited about her new relationship with Mac. Yet as Wyn and Mac grow closer physically, she feels an emotional distance when he refuses to share personal information about his life and past. To complicate matters, Wyn's divorce from her cheating husband has hit some roadblocks and isn't getting wrapped up as quickly as she had hoped. Things come to a head and Mac decides to head to Alaska to "figure some things out."

Wyn is reeling but has her hands full with her new baker's apprentice, an angry young woman named Tyler. Changes loom for the bakery and in the lives of everyone who works there. Will Mac find what he's looking for up North? Will Wyn remain loyal to Mac, even if he stays away for a long time?

The Baker's Apprentice continues the saga first started in Bread Alone. The characters are further developed and only become more endearing as the story progresses. Bread Alone was told entirely in Wyn's first person point-of-view, and The Baker's Apprentice expands this to include some chapters from Mac's perspective. It is a bit jarring to move between first and third person, but sections are clearly labeled and, once the flow is established, it becomes a seamless part of the story. As Mac spends a majority of the book in the Yukon Territory, it's also necessary to the plot.

There is some resolution at the end of The Baker's Apprentice, but the story is far from concluded. We can only hope that Hendricks won't make us wait another four years for the next installment. Since reading about the delectable baked goods is not enough, recipes are included to further enhance the reader's experience. I personally baked one variety (for a rich walnut bread) and found it delicious--the perfect accompaniment to my reading.

Hendricks creates realistic characters that readers will get intimately acquainted with. My heart ached for Wyn when Mac decided to leave, and the range of emotions she experiences are incredibly true-to-life. Other joyful and tragic moments occur, and the author's ability to communicate how the characters are feeling is touching. Wyn's relationship with Tyler goes through even more transition than her relationship with Mac. It starts as an employer/employee, moves to mentor/mentee, then ultimately to almost a mother/daughter bond. There are a few slow sections of The Baker's Apprentice which slightly diminished my enjoyment of the story, but all in all this is a delectable sequel, sure to please a variety of readers.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Melissa Parcel, 2005

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