Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jane Reviews: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano (includes giveaway)

Series: Supper Club #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Feb. 5, 2019
396 pages

About the Book:

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.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟    (4 stars)

With the main character being a baker it comes as no surprise that quite a bit of time is spent in the kitchen. All the mouth-watering goodies will have readers drooling. Melody has dreams of opening her own bakery and being able to choose what she makes but cannot see a way to achieve that goal. But then she receives an unexpected inheritance and her dreams seem to be within reach. However she has just met Justin, who already has plans in place that will entail him moving across the country. Justin is intrigued by Melody and wants to spend time with her but the timing is off. How dangerous is it for their hearts to spend more time together even though their lives are heading in different directions?

After meeting Melody in book 1 of the series I was looking forward to getting to know her more. I was drawn to Justin, he has a caring heart and will do anything for his family. I appreciated that he was honest and upfront about his feelings and situation. These two don’t seem like an obvious match but I liked them together. There was a point in the story where I found myself really frustrated with Rachel, her attitude and treatment of Melody felt very selfish. I was pleased that Melody stood up for herself and that they were able to work through the issues and the one incident didn’t ruin their relationship. I felt their friendship was stronger in the end.

As I became more invested in the story my attachment to Justin and Melody grew. I tried to figure out things would turn out for them, but I couldn’t see a scenario where they would both be able to achieve their dreams. Would one of them have to give up their goals and if so would they regret it? I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. The story took me on an emotional journey, but it was one I enjoyed.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit; opinions expressed in this review 
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

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.

Blog Stops:


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.


  1. This book sounds like a fantastic read.

  2. Thank you for your review on "Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe" by Carla Laureano and for being part of the book tour.

    Enjoyed reading the guest post by Carla. Can't wait for the opportunity to read this wonderful sounding book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net