About the Book
Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe
Author: Carla Laureano
Genre: Christian Romance
Release date: February 5, 2019
Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.
Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.
Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.
I was pretty excited to start Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. Somehow, I hadn’t yet read Saturday Night Supper Club and was in desperate need of a Carla book. I’m happy to report that you can read this novel as a stand alone, but fair warning, if you haven’t read the first in the series, you’ll want to start it as soon as you finish Bittersweet.
What first intrigued me was the idea of a bittersweet cafe. I wondered what was bittersweet about the cafe, knowing it was about a baker, but also knowing that Carla wouldn’t play off of something as obvious as bittersweet chocolate. Clearly, I’m not a writer. As the story unfolded I thought that it fit the title perfectly at times sweet, at times bitter, at times both.
I had a hard time putting this book down, wanting to turn the pages as I watched Melody and Justin grow as individuals while trying to figure out their relationship. Both are torn and struggle with who they want to be. They flounder, as humans do, but eventually find their way to each other in a satisfying ending that will leave you with a contented sigh.
I struggled a bit with Rachel’s role as best friend in this story and there were several times that I wasn’t sure I liked her. But, I also remembered how my bestie didn’t like my hubs very much at the beginning (and I hadn’t liked her beaus either), because she loved me and didn’t want to see me hurt. With that perspective I understood more where Rachel is coming from and in the end, she grows as well.
In the end, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe left me craving chocolate croissants and the next book in the series.
I received a copy of this story but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
About the Author
Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.
Guest Post from Carla
“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”
Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.
I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.
Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.
Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.
So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.
It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.
In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.
Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.
Quiet Quilter, February 12
Among the Reads, February 12
Lighthouse Academy, February 12
By The Book, February 12
The Power of Words, February 13
As He Leads is Joy, February 13
Cultivating Us, February 13
Blossoms and Blessings, February 13
Fiction Aficionado, February 14
The Lit Addict, February 14
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14
This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15
Just the Write Escape, February 15
100 Pages per Hour, February 15
Splashes of Joy, February 15
Bibliophile Reviews, February 16
Texas Book-aholic, February 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16
C Jane Read, February 17
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17
Moments, February 17
Back Porch Reads, February 17
Cordially Barbara, February 18
Genesis 5020, February 18
Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18
Livin’ Lit, February 19
Kat’s Corner Books, February 19
Life with the Tribe, February 19
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19
Through the Fire Blogs, February 20
Remembrancy, February 20
Vicky Sluiter, February 20
Living Life Free in Christ, February 20
2014 and Beyond!, February 21
Daysong Reflections, February 21
Inklings and Notions, February 21
Pause for Tales, February 21
Cafinated Reads, February 22
Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22
two points of interest, February 22
Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22
My Devotional Thoughts, February 23
Two Girls and a Book, February 23
The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23
For the love of books, February 23
God is Love, February 24
Book by Book, February 24
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 24
Janices book reviews, February 24
Lukewarm Tea, February 25
Carpe Diem, February 25
A Baker’s Perspective, February 25
Bigreadersite, February 25
To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway