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Sugar Rush

Sugar Rush

4.0 12
by Rachel Astor

Sugar Rush by Rachel Astor:

There's nothing quite like your first bite.

Dulcie Carter has been running her family's homemade sweet shop, Candy Land Confections, on her own since her mom passed away. But business is slow and rent is high, so Dulcie knows if she wants to keep her mom's dream alive, she'll need a miracle. The annual Assembly of


Sugar Rush by Rachel Astor:

There's nothing quite like your first bite.

Dulcie Carter has been running her family's homemade sweet shop, Candy Land Confections, on her own since her mom passed away. But business is slow and rent is high, so Dulcie knows if she wants to keep her mom's dream alive, she'll need a miracle. The annual Assembly of Chocolatiers competition might be just the thing, if she can bring herself to try creating something new for the first time in a long time.

Then she meets Nick, a molten-hot guy with a sexy smirk and an attraction stronger than any sugar rush, whose family also happens to own the big-box candy shop in town—her strongest competition for first prize. Nick's got his own reasons for needing the win, but then being around Dulcie is proving addictive. As their competition heats up, so do the sparks between them. Can they keep their sights on winning, when love might be the sweetest prize of all?

Product Details

Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
Entangled Bliss
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2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Sugar Rush

By Rachel Astor, Stacy Abrams

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Sacha Whalen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-969-1


Dulcie Carter checked the time on her phone yet again. She'd already been to work and back and it was only eight thirty. "Crap," she said aloud, much to the dismay of her neighbor, Helen, who always seemed to be grabbing her paper as Dulcie left.

She was pretty sure Helen timed it on purpose.

"You tell your grandmother all that Salsa dancing into the wee hours of the morning is keeping everyone awake," she said, shaking her finger as always.

Helen was one of those crotchety grandma types. Grumpy, with nothing better to do than ruin people's Salsa plans.

"Sure thing, Mrs. Kreinke," Dulcie said, trying not to chuckle out loud.

The last name was supposed to be pronounced like Kren-key, but Dulcie could never seem to stop it from coming out "cranky." She wondered if Helen realized Dulcie had no intention of delivering the message to Grams.


Ah, well. Life was too short to stress about things like the Crankster. Nothing would change the fact she was perpetually ticked at Dulcie — or at her grams, for that matter — so she just wouldn't worry about it.

Dulcie took the stairs two at a time and burst out of her apartment building, leaving a few random people scattered in her wake. It didn't slow her down. She was already five minutes late to meet Lila, who was someone she definitely didn't want ticked at her.

"Are you trying to give me an aneurysm?" her best friend asked, as Dulcie ran up to the campus coffee place. She handed Dulcie a cup and a little paper bag with a bagel inside.

"Yes, I am trying to give you an aneurysm," Dulcie said. "I thought it would be funny to not even hurry at all."

Of course, her panting told the real story.

"Very funny."

"Thanks," Dulcie said, raising the bagel bag and taking her first sip of coffee.

"So, what about him?" Lila asked as they made their way down the hall.

It was the same thing every morning. Lila would obsess over finding Dulcie a guy, which, as Dulcie had told her friend again and again, she didn't have the time to deal with.

A sigh escaped her.

Lila stopped walking and turned to her. "Seriously, if you don't start dating again soon, you're going to go crazy. I don't know how you do it."

Dulcie looked to the sky. "My life is already crazy. That's why I don't have time for dating."

Lila serial dated. She'd gone through more guys on campus — not to mention the three other colleges in the area — faster than Dulcie could whip up a batch of coconut fudge. And with the efficiency of hundreds of batches behind her, it wasn't a long process.

"Work, work, work, that's all I ever hear about," Lila said. "I mean, even Grams wouldn't want to stop you from having a little fun."

"Grams would jump for joy if I had a date. Actually, she'd probably click behind us in her little heels, snapping photos as we walked down the street."

"I love your grams." Lila sighed.

Dulcie smiled. Grams was pretty great.

"Okay, so what about him?" Lila pointed to a guy dressed all in black. He glared back at them like they had disturbed his ritual chant to the dark lord or something.

They walked a little more quickly. "Yeah, he's totally my type."

Lila made a yikes face. "Sorry, I thought maybe you were into the brooding ones. I didn't realize brooding also equals serial killer." They walked a few more steps. "So then ... him?"

Dulcie didn't even bother looking where her friend was pointing this time. "Cripes, Lila, you know I'm too busy. Please. Drop it already."

Lila stopped and put her hand on her hip. "So you won't even go out on one date?"

"That's it exactly. I can't waste my time on someone who's just going to be one date. I've got to know a guy is worth it before I go out with him."

"Oh, so you do still like guys. I was starting to wonder." Lila grinned.

Dulcie just walked, shaking her head.

"Operation Find Dulcie a Man is on," Lila said with conviction.

"Please don't make me an operation."

"But I love projects," she said, pouting.

"Um, please don't call me a project, either."

Lila gasped. "You could be my project if you wanted to," she said, tucking stray hairs behind Dulcie's ears. She scrunched her face. "When was the last time you showered? 'Cause you have some sticky shit in your hair."

Dulcie groaned. "I showered before bed. I must have splashed some caramel or something this morning."

Lila raised an eyebrow. "Well, at least you always smell good. Seriously, some days I just want to sniff you." She leaned in and took a deep whiff.

Dulcie gave her a whack on the shoulder.

Lila grinned back, but only for a second, because her brain was apparently otherwise occupied. "So what about that guy?"

Dulcie pretended not to hear.

Dulcie rushed toward the store after her last class. It had been her mom's dying wish — and inheritance stipulation — that Dulcie finish school. She'd gotten her undergraduate degree, but since her mom had worked so hard to save, there was money left over, and Dulcie couldn't bear to let her down. Her mom would have been so proud if she got her Masters in Business Administration. It was what she'd dreamed for Dulcie — for her to have a better life. And graduate school wasn't that bad, she tried to tell herself. Running the shop made the classes a lot more relatable, at least. She just wished she had a little more spare time.

As she zipped through the park, the ice-cream stand caught her attention, and her mind immediately began creating ice-cream flavors morphed into candy. Rocky Road Truffles, Neapolitan Fudge, Vanilla Bean Taffy ... for every flavor the ice-cream place had listed, Dulcie could dream up a new confection almost instantaneously.

Then she slowed in front of her favorite place in the world.

Candy Land Confections.

As a kid, Dulcie had been asked by her mother what they should call their new candy store and, being six, of course she'd spit out one of her favorite games of all time: Candy Land. Her mom had marveled at her ingenuity, but honestly, she just loved to play the board game. Her mother added on the Confections part and it hadn't changed in more than fifteen years.

She paused to check the sign outside, making sure all the lights were on and nothing needed cleaning. Then she walked in and took a deep breath. She spent so much more time at Candy Land Confections than at the apartment; the sugary-sweetness was like coming home.

Constance must have made a batch of Cinnamon Swirls (cinnamon and caramel toffee swirled into a soft, chewy bit of heaven) before she left — they were Dulcie's favorite. A few customers sat at the tiny bistro tables at the front of the store sipping coffee and munching sugar while Ava, the part-time employee who had started after Dulcie's mother passed, wiped the counter. She worked the one-to-five shift, which fit in perfectly with Ava's night classes.

"Hey, Dulcie, how's it going?"

"Good," she said. "Busy?"

Ava shrugged. "Not too bad, actually. Even got a little homework done."

Dulcie smiled, trying not to let her worry show. There were always customers — her mother's recipes were amazing — but chocolate wasn't exactly high-priced for the work it required. As it was, Dulcie could use another pair of hands at the shop, but if things didn't pick up business-wise, she wasn't sure how much longer she'd even be able to keep Ava on.

Ava packed up her things and for the next two hours, Dulcie mixed and served and cleaned. She ordered in a quick dinner and then snuck back to the kitchen to get started on tomorrow's wedding orders. Saturdays were always a madhouse. As she opened a fresh container of Brazilian cocoa, she thought about how smart her mom had been when she started going to the local bridal trade shows. It became the new big thing to get a candy display done instead of a fancy wedding cake. Pure genius. Of course, that meant a lot more work for Dulcie, but also more business, and with the cost of running the shop, she could always use more business.

She finished off a chocolate-dipped candied fruit display for one of the weddings and finally sat down for the first time since Ava had left, taking a minute to tackle the mail.

Bills, bills, bills. They never seemed to get anything else these days. Some medical stuff from her mom's illness was still outstanding, and then the cost of supplies and salaries to run the shop, plus the monumental rent for a high-foot-traffic location were going to be the end of her. She was living month to month, and if she couldn't figure out a way to get ahead soon, things were not looking all that sugary for Candy Land Confections.

Dulcie kept hoping something she learned in marketing class would spark a kind of magical idea, but she remained uninspired.

A fancy letter caught her eye as she sorted, and she got excited that, for once, she had something other than a bill. She ripped open the foil-lined envelope and pulled out the thick cardstock paper.

You're Invited

The Assembly of Chocolatiers, East Chapter presents:

The Forty-seventh Annual Taste of the Year Competition.

As a member, you're invited to enter your best and most unique new flavor for the $50,000 annual Taste of the Year endowment.

Please find the entry form enclosed.

We look forward to your submission.

Preliminary judging to take place October 1, with the Finals to follow two weeks later on October 15.

Dulcie snorted. Yeah, right.

There was no way she was going to put herself through that again. God, every time she thought about it, the same shame and gut-seizing horror came flooding back. Sweat sprang to her forehead just thinking about it.

All the other years had been so fantastic, standing proudly in the giant hall beside her mother, Grams watching from the crowd, cheering them on. The moment just before the announcement was always the most exciting part, waiting ... just waiting for the host to say the winner's name. Back then it was so easy to ignore the stares and judgment of the competitors, mostly because the looks were filled with jealousy, which was only enhanced when the winner was announced.

Candy Land Confections, three years in a row.

The store was in its prime.

And then her mom got sick.

After her mom was gone, Dulcie hadn't wanted to enter the competition ... not by herself, anyway. But Grams thought it would be good for her. Dulcie swore it was her shrink who had put the idea in Grams's head: give Dulcie something to keep her busy, get her mind off things.

It could not have been a bigger disaster.

Dulcie had worked for hours on the recipe, testing dozens of them until she found the perfect one. Well, the one she'd thought was perfect. She'd tweaked an old recipe of her mother's, changing her Velvet Strawberry Milk Chocolate Truffle into Dulcie's version: the Velvet Watermelon Dark Chocolate Truffle.

She'd stood, completely on her own, the looks from the competitors full of pity this time, everyone staring; she was sweating, the lights feeling so much brighter than she remembered from the year before.

She'd just wanted to be different — to create something the judges had never tasted before. To do something completely original. But as she watched the judges take bites of her work, it didn't take a genius to figure out that she'd gone too far. She knew, of course, that the flavors were a bit out there, that the overly strong artificial watermelon mixed with the dark chocolate to create an almost earthy taste (you know, somewhat dirt-like), but she'd somehow convinced herself an experienced palate would appreciate its uniqueness. As judge number three literally flinched and scrunched her nose, Dulcie realized her error.

She'd wanted to prove herself so badly, she'd gone against her heart — and her own taste buds, for that matter.

Candy Land Confections did not make it past the preliminary round. She wasn't even sure her creation made it through the digestive systems of the judges.

Of course, no one laughed right then and there, but she knew they all shook their heads later, marveling at what a disaster she'd turned her mom's legacy into.

Dulcie vowed to never mess with her mom's recipes again.

And to make matters worse, their biggest competitor, How Sweet It Is, won that year, making their ever-so-smugness even smuggier.

What Dulcie wouldn't give for her mom to come back and wipe the smug right off their faces. They'd certainly never had a chance of winning when she'd been around.

Needless to say, Candy Land Confections had not entered the past two years.

She flipped the invitation over and over, taking a deep breath, trying to force the soul-crushing thoughts of failure out of her system.

They'd already used all of her mom's best recipes in competitions past, so there wasn't any point in entering anymore.

She tossed the invitation to the far side of the desk.

* * *

Nick rolled out of his king-size bed, remembering the days when he didn't have trouble getting up. Of course, that was back before his father sent him to college, when the store was actually a fun place to be.

As a kid, he used to relish going in, tasting new flavors. But ever since his father had automated every process possible, providing gourmet treats at a fraction of the cost, it wasn't the same.

The whole thing had sort of snuck up on Nick. Sure, he'd known things had begun to automate before he left for school — no way would his father have afforded Harvard if they hadn't — but as a teen, Nick hadn't paid much attention to the store. Everything else seemed so much more important: girls, sports, his band.

Staying away from anything that reminded him of his mom.

When he had gotten back, it had been a bit of a culture shock. He'd come home to visit his father now and then, sure, but never really thought to go check out the store. After so many years, he wasn't sure why he'd thought it would still be the same old place — especially once his father told him how things were going so well because of the new automation and everything — but nothing could have prepared him for walking into How Sweet It Is that first day back.

What used to be a small, quaint storefront was now a gleaming metal and glass extravaganza of shelves lining every wall right up to the ceiling. And the candy ... he couldn't believe it. They used to put out a dozen or so of each product, lovingly wrapped in plastic and hand-tied with a bow, but now the candy was stacked by the hundreds, wrapped in plastics and foils meant more for longer storage than treats that would be enjoyed the same day.

But even that had not prepared Nick for what awaited him at the back of the building, which used to house several businesses run by other people. Each had apparently been bought out by his father to create a monumental food warehouse. Machines and conveyors and mechanical noises sat in place of the small kitchen his mother used to run, the cooks always happy and joking. There were still people here, but Nick had never seen such solemn faces. He supposed that was the difference between creating candy and simply ushering product from one machine to the next.

The only thing familiar about the whole operation was the way it smelled. If he ignored the noises and just concentrated on the chocolately vanilla sweetness of it all, it almost felt like the old days.

The changes certainly weren't all bad, he thought, shaking off the memories as he strolled through his apartment with its gorgeous views of the entire town. And it wasn't just any town. Upper-class tourists flocked to Port Leyton from all the major cities on the East Coast to spend their summers and holidays there, enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere of part-time life in such a serene setting.

Nick inserted a pod into his eight-hundred-dollar coffee machine and waited the thirty seconds for it to brew. As he took a long sip, he wondered how on earth people ever survived without automated coffee at their fingertips.

Maybe his father was on to something after all.

The coffee jolted his memory awake. The envelope he'd found yesterday. Finally, one thing Nick was looking forward to since he started work at his father's store — one thing that could let out his creative side for once.

He rushed to get ready and was in the shop twenty minutes later, the whir of machines droning in the background.

The envelope still sat on his desk. The Assembly of Chocolatiers competition. His father had lost interest in it, but when Nick saw the invitation, it was the first time he felt excited in a long time.


Excerpted from Sugar Rush by Rachel Astor, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2012 Sacha Whalen. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Rachel Astor grew up on a little farm outside a tiny town in the middle of Saskatchwan, Canada, where there wasn't much to do but daydream. She's had a lot of jobs, but none quite as interesting as when she waitressed at a bar named after a dog.

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Sugar Rush 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
CourtneyW More than 1 year ago
This book was utterly adorable. I've probably read at least a thousand romance novels in my life, and this one stood out as unique for several reasons. #1: Candy. The plot revolves around CANDY. It's sweet and feel good, and even though I got anxious at one point, it never felt angst-ridden... which I like. #2: Awkward characters. Both of the main characters are adorably awkward around each other. The guy isn't this suave alpha. He's just a guy. The girl isn't some Mary Sue who lets the guy walk in and boss her around. They're real people and act like real people attracted to each other. It's refreshing. #3: Plot other than romance. I'm always disappointed when I read a romance novel that practically has no plot except the characters getting together. I'm not saying this happens all the time in romance, but I found myself more focused on the candy plot and more anxious about the candy plot then about will they/won't they (which is GOOD, because it's a romance novel--of course they will). #4: No sex. I didn't actually realize this until I finished the book. When it did finally dawn on me, I realized why the book felt so light and adorable and enjoyable for me. Besides the candy, of course. I tend to skim sex scenes in romance novels for the dialogue. I know, shame on me. But the fact that this didn't have any sex was a huge bonus for me. If you like your romance steamy, you should pick this up anyhow because it's so freaking cute. #5: Adorable. If you ever watched the tv show Pushing Daisies and loved it for the adorably awkward romance, and the bright colors and pie, then you will love this book. It feels like Pushing Daisies for me. I LOVE Pushing Daisies, so for me to say that means something. Other than the fact that this book will make you want candy hardcore, I can't really think of anything I didn't like. (And is wanting candy reeeeally a bad thing?) There's also a recipe at the back for one of the candies in the book. That's right. CANDY RECIPE. Now go. Buy. Read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolute joy to read this book. Couldn't put it down!
Andreat78 More than 1 year ago
A charming story that will appeal to your heart. And your sweet tooth. Would it be terribly cliche if I said Sugar Rush was a sweet, sweet story? I know, it is. But that is simply the best description for the story of Dulcie and Nick, and the confections that consume their lives. Dulcie (such an appropriate name!) was a great girl, though she has difficulty realizing how talented and imaginative she is. Since her mother's death, she has dedicated her life to keeping her mother's beloved Candy Land Confections open. When she meets Nick, Dulcie immediately drawn to him, and he to her...until they realize one another's identity. Though their families and history says they should keep their distance, Dulcie and Nick can't fight that loving feeling. I will say, I had the teensiest of reservations in starting Sugar Rush. The premise reminded me a bit of You Have Mail. I happen to love that movie, except for one major hitch: the two main characters were business rivals, with the male owning a mega bookstore that was threatening the woman's small indie bookstore. They fall in love, then she finds out he's putting her out of business and ends it. Shortly after, though, all is forgiven and they live happily ever after. At the time, this really didn't bother me. Now, I would flog the man who ruined my livelihood, hottie or not. Sugar Rush, while having the same business rivalry-turn-love story aspect, was not that story. It has a much, much better resolution to the problems that Nick and Dulcie face. Thank goodness or I might have had a minor stroke. Sugar Rush read like a Hallmark or Lifetime movie. That is a good thing! It was very well-written, with a pace that never lagged. And though I only focused on Nick and Dulcie, all the characters made an impact (especially Dulcie's grandma!) I even found the candy making aspect interesting. This story made me want to curl up in my cozy living room, by the Christmas tree, and enjoy the fun. Sugar Rush was a sweet escape. It should be noted that I read Sugar Rush approximately four days after I went off most sugar. It was so good that I still loved the story and managed not to harm anyone whilst reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*sighs and rolls over*
TheLifeofaBookAddict More than 1 year ago
Sugar Rush follows Dulcie Carter who runs Candy Land Confections, her family’s homemade candy store. When her mother passed away, Dulcie was left to run the business on her own. Dulcie leads a very busy life and doesn't have time to date; nor does she want to date just a string of random guys. She wants to be with someone who is worth her time. While she is out with her friend Lila, Dulcie becomes instantly drawn to one of the band members playing the bass guitar. He happens to spot Lila sitting at a table and can’t stop looking at her. The guitar player is Nick whose family owns the store How Sweet It Is, Candy Land Confections major competition. After the set, Nick approaches Dulcie and they share an awkward if not cute and nervous conversation. And then they discover their stores are competitors, so they ignore their feelings. Now home after college Nick is working at How Sweet It Is. His father is set to retire soon and he is determined to make his father proud and show him that he is the perfect one to take over the company. He loves to put his creative energy to good use which is one of the reasons he plays in a band. He doesn't get the opportunity to do anything creative at his work since all the sweets are made from an automatic machine. When he spots the invitation for the annual Assembly of Chocolatiers competition, thinking it is the perfect chance he has been waiting for, he convinces his father to let him enter. Apart from Dulcie running her own business she is also finishing up her Master’s degree in Business Administration. But going to school and running a business takes up a huge chunk of her time and money. Money that she is running out of if she can’t bring in more business. Even though she is hesitant at first to enter the Chocolatier competition due to her embarrassment about failing the it previously, she decides to enter in hopes of winning the prize of $50,000. That would definitely help out with all of the bills that keep piling up. They each have their own reasons for winning; Nick to prove himself to his father and Dulcie to save her shop and keep it afloat. But during the competition the more time they spend around each other the more sparks continue to fly. Soon they have to decide which is more important; a potential shot at love or winning first place? Sugar Rush is a short and sweet read. The romance between Dulcie and Nick is adorable. They are a little awkward with each other which I thought was cute. It made them seem a little more real. I wasn’t a huge fan of the instant draw between them, but it was fun seeing these two interact with each other. It’s a good choice if you are in the mood for a light romance with lots of talk about chocolate. Just be prepared to feel like indulging in your sweet tooth by the time you are done reading. ** I received this ARC from Entangled Publishing/Bliss in exchange for nothing, but my honest review. Thank you.**
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jendsmit_ More than 1 year ago
Sweet | Complicated | Quick Read Ok I know I am in the minority on this book giving only 3 stars, but I liked it… I really did! I love to bake and who doesn’t love candy?! This book has mouthwatering descriptions of cupcakes and candies… seriously!! I really liked Dulcie – she was sweet, feisty, & smart. My problem with her was the lack of confidence, but I understand why that was there in the story – but it still drove me nuts. Nick… musician baker smartass. Really, need I say more? I liked Nick, but I didn’t really feel like there was much interaction between him and Dulcie before all hell breaks loose. It isn’t insta-love but it is still super-fast, which I am actually ok with in this book – it worked ok for me. The story has a pretty good pace, I could have used less in some places and more in others… I would have loved to know more about Jess but that is because I have worked in Marketing/Advertising … so I LOVE hearing about characters who do it – kind of weird, but you know I’m kind of weird so it works – get off me! Any way like I said – I liked this book. It is a sweet yet complicated story of two adults who have a complicated situation to work through… I liked the twists that Rachel worked into the story. There is one that I TOTALLY didn’t get before it hit me… I’ll leave it at that because I would like you to be smacked with it as well =D Add this book to your TBRs & pick up your copy today!