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The Trouble with Love: A Cupcake Lovers Novel

The Trouble with Love: A Cupcake Lovers Novel

4.1 7
by Beth Ciotta

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Rocky Monroe's bad luck is legendary. So it stands to reason that during a quick trip to New York on behalf of the Cupcake Lovers' forthcoming book, she winds up in the arms of the one man she never wants to see again. So what if he's also the man she can't stop dreaming about? Mouth-watering


Rocky Monroe's bad luck is legendary. So it stands to reason that during a quick trip to New York on behalf of the Cupcake Lovers' forthcoming book, she winds up in the arms of the one man she never wants to see again. So what if he's also the man she can't stop dreaming about? Mouth-watering Jayce Bello has always been Rocky's biggest mistake, and she's not going to let history repeat itself … unless she gets a new taste of his delicious kisses.
When Jayce Bello left Sugar Creek ten years ago, it was the right thing to do—for him and for Rocky, his best friend's little sister. But one passionate night with gorgeous, reckless Rocky is enough to prove that she's the missing ingredient in his happiness. Now, with scandalous secrets souring the sweetness of the Cupcake Lovers' club, Jayce needs to convince Rocky that their love is something to savor …

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for the Cupcake Lovers series

“Rich with emotional complexity and a cast of wonderfully rich characters, Fool for Love is an absolute treat.”—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

“Ciotta writes with style, wit and heart. Can’t wait for the next one!”—Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author

4 Stars! Hot! 'Ciotta is a master of the fun-to-read romance, and this outing is no exception."—RT Book Reviews on FOOL FOR LOVE



"A great storyline with lots of twists and turns, that included heartache, happiness, sadness, love, romance, quite a few secrets, laughter, tears, the small town of Sugar Creek…some mystery and darkness and then wonderful closure."—Romance Junkie Reviews

4 Stars! HOT! "Hot romance, a little suspense and a whole lot of charm make this a fast read." –RT Book Reviews


Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Cupcake Lovers , #2
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Read an Excerpt

The Trouble with Love

By Beth Ciotta

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2013 Beth Ciotta
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-2121-7


Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart. — Erma Bombeck


"To die for."

"Had me at the crystallized ginger."

Rocky Monroe glanced around her grandma's dining-room table, smiling as everyone sampled her cupcakes with a blissful moan, pumping a mental fist as every member of Cupcake Lovers — at least the ones in attendance — concurred. Her proposed contribution for the club's Creepy Cupcake booth at the upcoming Spookytown Spectacular was a hit. She'd always had faith in her cooking skills, but when it came to baking there was nothing like a thumbs-up from the four senior members, Judy Betts, Helen Cole, Ethel Larsen, and Rocky's grandma, Daisy Monroe, who'd been baking for charitable causes since before the Vietnam War.

"Brilliance, sweet pea."

"Thanks, Gram." Rocky's generous, purple-haired grandma had hosted tonight's meeting even though it was Rocky's turn. Rocky's home, which was also a bed-and- breakfast, was undergoing extensive renovations. So instead, they'd gathered at Gram's humongous three-story colonial, a home brimming with folksy knickknacks, antique furnishings, and generations of Monroe family love. Personal nirvana for Rocky.

"I'm digging the gingerbread and pumpkin combination."

This from Rocky's cousin Sam McCloud, the only male member of the local baking society. He caught a lot of flack for that, especially from their male relatives, of whom there were many, including Rocky's two older brothers, Luke and Dev.

"Yeah, but they're not as creepy-cute as yours, Sam." Rocky gestured to one of several cupcake platters on the table. Sam had made and rolled out his own colored fondant — orange, green, and white — then, after utilizing "monster" cookie cutters, molded the designs over the top of the cupcakes, using dark-chocolate frosting as his glue. "Jack-o'-lanterns, Frankenstein, and Ghouls. How great is that?"

"Can't take the credit. My kids inspired me."

Ben and Mina, eight and five, respectively.

"Still," Rachel Lacey said, "who makes their own fondant? Not me. I've never mastered the technique."

"I'd be happy to give you some tips," Sam said. "Maybe some afternoon ..."

Rocky held her breath as did the other ladies seated around the table. Sam, a widower of two years, had joined the club months ago. He'd claimed he'd wanted to broaden his horizons, to break out of his morbid funk. Maybe that was part of it, but everyone knew he had a crush on Rachel. Well, except for Rachel.

How the young woman could be so oblivious was a mystery to all. Or maybe she simply wasn't interested and was too polite to say. Rachel, a day-care center's assistant, was beyond polite. Still ... Sam was former military, a master furniture maker, a really nice guy, good with children, and he baked! How could Rachel not be attracted? And why was he tiptoeing around his infatuation? Why not just ask her out on a date? But no, every once in a while he threw out these vague offers that Rachel kept sidestepping.

Not that Rocky was any expert in the romance department. Okay. She sucked in matters of love. And all right. Fine. Maybe she sucked at relationships in general. She'd certainly screwed up the perfect friends-with-benefits arrangement she'd shared with Adam Brody, a hunky, sweet-natured guy who freelanced as a recreational sports instructor. But that wasn't her fault.

She blamed Jayce Bello.

Her first love. Her first lover. A physical and emotional firestorm that had warped Rocky's perception of love and caused a severe rift between her and Jayce for thirteen years. Thank God he'd gone back to New York, after his recent and disastrous visit to town, so that she could get on with her life. Such as it was.

"That's sweet, Sam," Rachel said. "But I wouldn't dream of imposing on your valuable time."

Rocky blinked back to the present debacle: Sam's lame attempts to ease his way into Rachel's life and her shy reluctance to give him a shot. Rocky wanted to shake them both.

"Oh, for goodness' sake, Sam," Gram said. "Just ask her out already. Life's short!"

The seventy-five-year-old woman's motto for the past year and a half, the one that caused her to do foolish things like taking Rocky's snowmobile for a joyride or, most recently, veering off of a bike path and cycling down a hill at full speed. Both incidents had ended in a crash. Gram had yet to recover fully from the latter, still wearing a cast on her broken ankle and leaving her wearing only one trademark metallic sneaker at the moment. Her current motto also caused her to speak her mind when maybe she shouldn't. Although in this instance, no one, including Rocky, hushed her. Nope. Everyone waited for Sam to get off his duff and take action while Rachel sat wide-eyed, her cheeks burning brighter by the second.

"Oh, the suspense." Casey Monahan, part of the younger half of the club and as close to a buddy as Rachel allowed, elbowed Sam, who was doing one of his best silent glares at Gram, who just smiled.

Rocky, who was sitting on the other side of her cousin, nudged him with her knee.

Sam shifted his gaze to Rachel, though he at least ditched the death glare, just one of the intimidation skills he'd learned in the Marines. "This is awkward."

"You want to go out with me?" Rachel's voice was a disbelieving whisper.

"I was working my way up to asking."

"Meanwhile," Gram said, "hell was freezing over."

The senior CLs snickered.

Casey and Monica rolled their eyes.

Rocky's frustration shifted to sympathy. For her cousin, who'd lost the love of his life to cancer and hadn't dated, even casually, since. And for Rachel, who was painfully shy and, when it came to her looks, infuriatingly insecure. So much so she'd refused to participate in a CL photo session a few weeks back. Why did love or even just plain dating have to be so damned complicated?

"Maybe you could go out for drinks?" Monica suggested.

"Why not dinner?" Judy asked.

"You should take her someplace nice," Ethel said.

"But not too fancy," Gram said. "Then you feel pressured about how dressed up to get and which fork to use."

"Yeah." Rocky slid her cousin a teasing look, hoping to ease the tension. "Wouldn't want Sam obsessing on that."

He grunted. "I know which fork to use."

"Take her to the Sugar Shack," Casey said, getting in on the action. "Comfortable surroundings, great food."

Rocky agreed. Plus Luke, who co-owned and ran the place, would give their cousin and his date the star treatment. "Good idea."

"What are you doing Saturday night?" Helen asked Rachel.

"Nothing. That is —"

"Sam will pick you up at six," Gram said.

He shot the Monroe matriarch another one of those glares. "What if I had plans?"

Gram pushed her rhinestone-studded glasses up her nose and glared back. "Do you?"

"No, but —"

"I'll be happy to babysit Ben and Mina," Casey said with a smile.

"This is whacked." Sam dragged a hand down his rugged face. Rolling back his broad shoulders, he adopted what was probably supposed to be a charming smile. His seduction skills were rusty at best. "Rachel, would you like to go out to dinner with me on Saturday night?"

Rachel smiled back, sort of. "Okay."

Not an enthusiastic yes, Rocky thought, but not a rejection. As the president of the club, she used her position to move things along, saving Sam and Rachel from further embarrassment. She hoped. "Now that that's settled, let's get back to the Spookytown event. Which cupcake should we focus on as the giveaway for the kids?"

"I vote for Sam's," Casey said. "No offense, everyone. All entries were delish, but like Rocky said, Sam's are just too creepy-cute. Totally appropriate."

Rocky looked around the table. "All in favor?"

Everyone, including Sam, raised their hands.

"Settled," Rocky said. "To be on the safe side, we'll need approximately two hundred cupcakes for the Spooktacular goody giveaways."

"The pumpkin spice cupcake recipe itself is simple," Sam said. "As for the fondant ..."

Gram, Helen, Ethel, and Casey volunteered.

"Great," Rocky said. "So along with Sam, you four will tackle the monster fondant. Which leaves Monica, Rachel, Judy, and me to bake the cupcakes."

"What about Tasha and Chloe?" Monica asked.

"Wild cards," Rocky said while pouring everyone a fresh cup of Sweet Apple Chamomile Tea. "Wherever they want to focus their efforts is great."

Chloe Madison, the new love of Rocky's brother Dev, had recently graduated from a New York City culinary arts school. Although she specialized in cooking more than baking, her overall skills were incredible. In fact, she'd recently partnered with Gram to open a quaint café, which was why she wasn't here yet. Detained on business.

As for Tasha ... When it came to community and charitable events, Rocky tried to put aside her personal dislike of their former club president. At odds since high school, Rocky and Tasha had a long and ugly association. Complicating matters further, after the botched seduction of Rocky's oldest brother, Dev, Tasha had set her sights on Randall Burke, a man thirty years her senior, the flipping town mayor. Last year, in a match that had set the town afire with gossip, Tasha had married into the Burkes, the most influential family in Sugar Creek, aside from the Monroes, intensifying her already bossy, arrogant, manipulative, and sometimes downright mean personality.

That said, Tasha made kick-ass cupcakes and had a history with the club that stretched back to her great-grandmother. Big on tradition and holding fast to the hope that maybe someday the thirty-year-old woman would mature into a kinder, gentler being (like her deceased mom and grandma), the club endured Tasha Burke like one endures a perplexing infection while awaiting a miracle cure.

Shaking off thoughts of Tasha-the-Pinhead Burke (as nicknamed by Gram), who was uncharacteristically absent from their weekly Thursday night meeting, Rocky set aside the teapot and reclaimed her seat.

She waited until Sam finished passing around his recipe cards, another tradition, before proposing her next idea. "I was thinking, since we'll have our own booth at the Spectacular, in addition to the free cupcake treats for the kids, maybe everyone could contribute a dozen or so cupcakes, utilizing the pumpkin theme, which we'll sell — proceeds earmarked for the day-care center."

"Great idea," Sam said.

"Dandy," said Gram. "Put me down for two dozen of my Pumpkin Walnuts."

Smiling, Rocky penned a list as everyone chimed in.

Rachel cleared her throat. "Wait. That's a lovely thought, but Gretchen's sort of touchy about contributions. She has her own way of doing things and she's keen on obtaining a grant."

Gretchen Tate, owner of Sugar Tots and Rachel's boss.

"Those things take time," Rocky said kindly, "and from what you've told us the center could use some immediate upgrades. We can at least contribute to the playground fund you mentioned."

"I think Gretchen intends to reach out to local businesses."

"Smart," Helen said. "Meanwhile, let us help a little, Rachel, honey. That's what we do."

It was what Rocky loved most about Cupcake Lovers — their camaraderie and charitable efforts. Founded in 1942, the social club had gathered weekly to share sweets, tea, and news from their loved ones who'd gone off to fight in WW II. As a way to boost morale and to share a taste of home, the group began shipping cupcakes to soldiers. Over time, the club evolved and, in addition to spreading joy overseas, they also started organizing local charitable events.

"It's settled then," Rocky said. "A week to prepare and —"

"Sorry I'm late, Sweet Peeps, but wait until you hear my news!"

Sweet Peeps? Rocky rolled her eyes at the pretentious greeting, then turned and frowned. Decked out in four-inch heels and a formfitting dress that highlighted her curves — some cultivated by a personal trainer, others, like her big, pert breasts, compliments of surgery — Tasha blew into the room, commanding everyone's attention. As always.

"Did you just walk into my house without knocking?" Gram asked.

"I knew I was expected." Tucking her sleek, black hair behind her diamond-studded ears, Tasha took a seat at the head of the table. There were two other empty chairs, but oh no, she assumed a seat of authority.

I should have sat there, Rocky thought. If for no other reason than to rob Tasha of the opportunity. "We were discussing our efforts for next week's Spookytown Spectacular," Rocky said, vying for control.

"I vote for whatever everyone else voted for," Tasha said with an I-couldn't-care-less smile. "Now for my news! Brett called. The collective powers-that-be at Highlife Publishing loved our proposal for Cupcake Lovers' Delectable Delights — Making a Difference One Cupcake at a Time." She squealed and applauded. "We're going to contract, Sweet Peeps!"

Rocky bristled. If she calls us that one more time ...

"Incredible," Judy said.




Similar sentiments followed, including Sam's, "Freaking A."

Rocky remained skeptical. A brainchild of Tasha's, this project reeked of disaster. That it was actually one step closer to realization only amped Rocky's misgivings.

Three weeks ago, at the urging of Tasha, who at the time had been their leader, the club had submitted a proposal for the recipe book — enhanced by photos, the history of the club, and heartwarming accounts — to Highlife, a New York publisher specializing in nonfiction. The entire process had been a hassle, complicated by Tasha's controlling nature and rabid quest for fame that had resulted in the members demanding she relinquish her role as president. Rocky, who'd been appointed as the new president, had secretly hoped the self-absorbed witch would quit the group entirely.


If Rocky were paranoid, she'd think the woman had retained her membership solely to make Rocky's life hell. Not that her life had been a picnic lately even without Tasha's influence, but that wasn't the point. Clearly the main reason the narcissistic woman had swallowed her pride was because she was banking on this publishing deal. Apparently, marrying the town mayor (who was stinking rich and influential) hadn't quenched Tasha's thirst for power and glory. Not that there was much glory to be had in their small town.

Sugar Creek, Vermont. Population 1,355. A quaint tourist destination for Flatlanders visiting the Green Mountain State in search of stunning scenery, relaxation, or assorted outdoor recreation. Home of Cupcake Lovers, an association with a long and notable history that, in addition to their delicious recipes and the current popularity of cupcakes, had apparently landed the club a book deal.

"I don't know why you're all so stunned," Tasha said with a haughty tilt of her chin. "I told you we'd get an offer. Brett called me this afternoon with the good news."

Brett Pearson, the senior editor she'd been wooing on behalf of the club even though she was no longer president. They'd all agreed Tasha should remain the liaison in this instance, mostly because she'd established contact. Partly because no one else wanted the job. Especially Rocky, who was up to her eyeballs in renovations with the Red Clover.

Gram frowned. "You've been sitting on this news all day?"

"Don't get your granny panties in a twist, Daisy. I wanted to tell all of you in person and we were meeting tonight anyway. What's a few hours?"

"Don't get your reconstructed nose out of joint," Gram fired back. "I'm just saying this is exciting stuff."

The front door opened and shut, followed by rushed footsteps. "I apologize for being so late, everyone. It took longer than anticipated for Devlin, Luke, and me to hang the signage and shelves that just came in. You're going to love it, Daisy! Looks even better than it did in the online catalogue!"


Excerpted from The Trouble with Love by Beth Ciotta. Copyright © 2013 Beth Ciotta. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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

Beth Ciotta is an award-winning author who specializes in romantic comedy with a twist. Her work includes contemporary, historical, and paranormal romantic fiction. "I can't think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!"
Beth lives in New Jersey with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her website.

Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed "fun and sexy" by Publisher's Weekly, Beth specializes in writing romantic fiction within various sub-genres. Her critically acclaimed small town contemporary series—The Cupcake Lovers—includes novels Fool For Love, The Trouble With Love, Anything But Love, and the holiday novella, Some Kind of Wonderful . . . with more cupcake love to come!  
Beth lives in NJ with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing.

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The Trouble with Love (Cupcake Lovers Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
PJ16 More than 1 year ago
Book 2 of the Cupcake Lovers series and I loved it. I loved Rocky when I met her in book 1 but I was not sure about Jayce but this book changed my mind loved him and he is family. What makes this series even better is that Daisy is back, Dev, Chloe, Luke, Sam everyone you met in book 1 with a few new characters were added. I loved the story and seeing another side of Rocky that is in all tomboys. The books don't really end they lead you into the next book and I can't wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
Beth Ciotta delivers an entertaining read in her latest installment of the Cupcake Lovers Series. When the Cupcake Lovers get offered a contract for a recipe book, Rocky Monroe, president of the club, finds herself going to New York City with her long-time rival, Tasha. Determined to have a great time, as well as keep Tasha in line, Rocky sets out to explore New York, only to have her notorious bad luck rear its ugly head again. In need of a favor, and desperate to not call home, Rocky turns to the only person she knows in New York, besides Tasha, Jayce Bello. The person she hoped to never see again, who haunts her dreams, who makes her mad with hate and lust all at the same time. Rocky decides that perhaps it’s time to simply “scratch the itch” with Jayce so she can simply get over him and move on with her life, however Jayce has other plans. Moving back home to conquer his demons and settle down, Jayce is determined win Rocky’s love. In order to do that, he’ll need to uncover the secrets Rocky harbors, and find a way to earn her trust. Once back home in Sugar Creek, Rocky and Jayce struggle to deal the past and create the future. When Rocky’s life seems to be put in danger, it’s up to Jayce to keep Rocky safe without smothering her and pushing her away. Can Rocky and Jayce find the love they both want or will Rocky’s bad luck keep them apart? I loved The Trouble with Love. The storyline held my attention through lots of drama, mystery and sweet romance. The characters are well developed and the plot very fast paced and entertaining. I loved Rocky and Jayce’s relationship from start to finish. From their past history placing strain on their new romance, to the way Jayce plays the knight in shining armour, this book had me smiling while reading. I loved watching their relationship change while still staying true to their characters. The other stories of the Cupcake Lovers that continue during the book added another layer of depth to the story and helped keep the series moving along. Even though this book is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. However, there are parts of the series that does remain unsolved at the end of this novel. I recommend reading the first novel in the series, Fool For Love, before reading this one to understand the background behind the Cupcake Lovers. I am looking forward to reading Reagan and Luke’s story in Anything but Love. This book was received from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. Rating: 4 1/2 Heat Rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilP Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
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shannschoice More than 1 year ago
I knew when the minute that Rocky and Jayce were together in Fool for Love that I was going to love them as a couple.  There was just something about the two of them together that I loved.  So you can imagine how excited I was for their book to come out.  I can tell you, it was definitely worth the wait and I was a little sad when it was all over. Rocky has been in love with Jayce Bello since she was a young girl.  But Rocky's world came crashing down when she Jayce's proposal of marriage when she was seventeen is seen as a duty rather than a heartfelt confession of love.  Thirteen years later, Rocky is still harboring that resentment towards Jayce.  She tries to channel some of her energy into other things:  her B & B, the Cupcake Lovers and her family, but Rocky's convinced she has bad luck.  And it seems that bad luck is following her as she goes to New York City with her nemesis to speak with a book publisher about the Cupcake Lover book they are trying to publish for charity.  Good thing the last person she wants to reach out to for her, aka Jayce, is there when she needs it most.   Jayce and Rocky has a lot of personal demons they need to dig through in order to get to a place where they can actually have some sort of a relationship.  There's Rocky's misunderstanding of just what that proposal meant all those years ago, Jayce's demons when it comes to his family and then all the feelings they have towards each other and if they are on the same page with each other when it comes to a relationship.  They have the sex stuff down, but it's all the other stuff that seems to get in their way.  The good thing about Jayce and Rocky was once they did get things out in the open, they talked about just what they needed to do to move forward.  In some stories you have to wonder if the couple will ever to go their HEA.  With this one, you knew Jayce and Rocky were going to make it, no matter what life threw in their way. A Cupcake Lovers book wouldn't be complete without having practically the entire town of Sugar Creek, VT show up in the pages.  They do not disappoint and they add a level of comic relief to the story that has me wishing they were in it more.  And Beth Ciotta wets our appetites for book three, Luke's story.  You'll have to read this book to figure out just who Luke's going to be paired up with, but I can tell you I can wait.