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.
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.
This book has been such a joy to read. I loved reading about how breads were made. The author described the technique so well, I could smell delicious aromas of bread as it browned in the oven. Melody is very unhappy in her mundane job of baker. She has long hours and the same routine is getting to her. She has always dreamed of being a pastry chef and owning her own place. She has not been happy in awhile and her dating life hasn't exactly been anything to talk about. It was interesting to read about the different desserts Melody made at home and then posted on line. I thought that was such a clever idea.
Justin is quite an intriguing character. His job as a pilot fascinated me. I do not like flying at all, but he makes it sound fun and adventurous. When he and Melody first meet it was kinda comical. Here is this very confidant person who knows about motors, cars, planes etc and ends up stuck in the snow.
The story takes us on a journey with two people discovering what they want to do with their lives and being content where God has them until He changes things. Both have issues from their past that will hamper their relationship until they find a way to overcome it. I loved reading how the character's were vulnerable at times and opened up to each other. Justin seems to be a bit more smitten than Melody but I think she is still having trust issues. There is a tug of war going on within these two characters.
The story is very hard to put down and I loved how easy it flowed. The characters from the first book in the series play an intricate part in this story. I love when a series can continue without a hitch and you quickly can pick up where the series ended without being lost. The author has a beautiful way of describing even the smallest detail which puts you right there in the middle of the story. I wanted to watch Melody as she made her desserts and get to taste each one just as she finished them.
There is a conflict between Melody and one of her friends that really questions if Melody is committed to the plan with her friend. Will Justin and Melody find a way to be together or will their careers get in the way? They each have hard decisions to make and at this point I started tearing up. I know what it's like to be scared of making the wrong decision. I loved what Melody's mom says to her, "Which regret can you live with? And which one would tear you apart?" The story is an emotional roller coaster and one I found very invested in. I am anxiously awaiting the next in this beautifully written series.
" When we let ourselves cry over things that weren't ours in the first place, its like telling God that we don't appreciate what He's actually given us."
I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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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