From the RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.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 countryan 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. Connect with Carla online at her website (www.carlalaureano.com) or on any of these social media platforms: Facebook.com/CarlaLaureanoAuthor Twitter.com/carlalaureano Instagram.com/carlalaureanoauthor Pinterest.com/laureano_carla
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time, Melody Johansson had believed in happily ever afters.
To be truthful, she still believed in them, but with her thirtieth birthday in the rearview mirror, the fairy-tale ending had turned away from meeting a handsome prince to owning a little patisserie in Paris. Even if sometimes, as she toiled away in her own version of Cinderella's attic, both fantasies seemed equally far-fetched.
Melody brushed past the ovens in the bakery's kitchen, giving the loaves inside a cursory glance, then dragged a rolling rack of rectangular tubs from the back wall. Customers no doubt had romantic ideals of what it meant to be a baker, picturing quaintly dressed European peasants kneading loaves by hand and shoving them into ovens on long-handled peels, but the American commercial bakery had far more in common with an assembly line than a charming country boulangerie.
Still, there were worse places to spend the dark, still hours of the night than surrounded by loaves of bread, their deep-brown, crackling exteriors fragrant with wheat and caramel and yeast. But Melody was closing on the end of a twelve-hour shift alone, and the only drifts she wanted to be enveloped in were the fluffy plumes of the down duvet on her antique bed. Not the hard, wet snow that coated the city like a sprinkling of demerara sugar on a freshly baked pastry. It looked beautiful, but the peaceful surface concealed treacherous sheets of ice, courtesy of Denver's mercurial warm-then-snowy March weather. Every time spring looked to be on the horizon, winter yanked it back for one last hurrah.
Melody muscled a forty-pound tub of dough to the benchtop and overturned it in one swift movement. She'd done this enough in her career to judge two-pound portions by eye, but she still put each piece on the scale after she cut it from the mass with her steel-bladed bench knife. Unconsciously, she matched the cadence of her movements to the music softly pouring from the speakers. Cut, weigh, set aside. Cut, weigh, set aside. Then came the more complex rhythm of shaping each loaf. A dusting of flour, push away, quarter turn. Each stroke of the scraper beneath the loaf rolled the dough inward on itself, creating the surface tension that transformed the loose, wet lump into a taut, perfectly formed round. Then the loaf went into the cloth-lined proofing basket to rise before she went on to the next one. Twenty times per tub, multiplied by the number of tubs on the rack. She was going to be here for a while.
Baking wasn't usually such solitary work. A second baker normally worked the weekend shifts to make up for the café's increased traffic on Saturday and Sunday, but he lived south of the city, just past the point where they had closed the interstate. It shouldn't have been a surprise — practically every storm closed Monument Pass. Had it been Melody, she would have driven up earlier on Friday morning to make sure she was able to make her shift on time. But then, she'd worked her entire adult life in restaurants and bakeries, where the first rule was: always show up.
That meant her usual eight-hour shift had morphed into twelve.
She muffled a yawn with the back of her arm. "Get it together, Melody. Only two more hours." Assuming the morning staff got here on time to put the proofed loaves into the oven.
Maybe it was time to cut this job loose. She'd been here for six months, which, with the exception of a single fine-dining gig, was the longest she'd been in one place in her life. She needed variety. She could churn out someone else's mediocre recipes for only so long before she felt like she'd sold out.
She'd been wanting to go back to Europe. She'd been away from Paris for eight years, and even then she'd been so busy as a baking apprentice that she'd never had the chance to explore France beyond the capital. A few months to travel sounded like heaven.
Melody sighed. That was as much a work of fiction as any book in her extensive library. Based on the current state of her savings account, she could barely fund a trip to the airport, let alone any points beyond.
She was heading back for a fourth tub when she heard a tapping from the front of the store. She frowned, cocking her head in that direction. Probably just the snow or the wind rattling the plate-glass windows. This strip mall was old, and every storm shook something new loose.
No, there it was again. She wiped her hands on her apron and slowly poked her head out of the kitchen toward the front entrance.
A man stood at the front door, hand raised to knock on the glass.
Melody hesitated. What on earth was anyone doing out in this storm at 4 a.m.? Even worse, what was she supposed to do? It didn't bother her to be here alone, but she kept everything securely locked until the morning staff arrived to welcome customers.
"Hello?" His muffled voice sounded hopeful. Didn't sound like someone who was planning on murdering her. But what did a murderer sound like anyway?
She approached the window cautiously. "Can I help you?"
He exhaled, his breath crystallizing around him in a cloud. "My car got stuck down the street. Can I use your phone? Mine's dead, and I forgot my charger in the hotel." He pulled out a cell phone and pressed it against the wet window. Evidence, apparently.
Melody wavered. From what she could tell through the snow-crusted window, he was nicely dressed. Didn't sound crazy. And sure enough, when she peered down the street, she could see a car cockeyed against the curb with its emergency flashers on.
"Listen, I don't blame you for being cautious. I'm a pilot, see?" He opened his overcoat to show a navy-blue uniform and then pulled out a badge clip holding two unreadable cards. "These are my airport credentials. Homeland Security and my employer trust me with a thirteen-million-dollar plane. I promise, I just need a phone."
A gust of wind hit him full force, the smattering of snow crackling against the window. He turned up his collar and hugged his arms to himself, waiting for her response.
Melody sighed and pulled a key ring from her belt loop. She couldn't leave the poor guy outside to freeze, and she knew there wasn't likely to be another place open for miles. She just prayed that her compassion wasn't going to backfire on her. The lock clicked open, and she pulled the door inward.
He rushed in, rubbing his hands together. "Thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate this."
"Sure. The phone's over there by the register." Melody pointed him in the direction of the counter.
He nodded, turned toward the phone, then hesitated and stuck out his hand. "I'm Justin Keller."
As his cold fingers closed on her warm hand, she looked up and found herself frozen by brilliant blue eyes. "Melody Johansson."
He smiled, causing her heart to give a little hiccup, and released her before moving toward the phone. She watched as he dug a roadside assistance card from his wallet and dialed.
The stranger she'd rescued was handsome. Almost unfairly so. Hair that vacillated between blond and brown, cut short and a little spiky. Those arresting blue eyes. And a crooked leading-man smile that must routinely melt women into puddles at his feet. No, not leading man ... fairy-tale prince. Why was it that pilots seemed to dominate the good-looking end of the gene pool? Was it a prerequisite for the job?
Justin was talking in a low voice — a sexy voice, she had to admit, just deep enough to balance the boyish charm — and she realized she should probably get back to work before he caught her staring. But he turned to her and cradled the handset against his shoulder. "They said it's going to take a while. Is it okay if I wait here?"
"Sure." She might have been reluctant to let him in, but her answer now was a little too enthusiastic. From the slight glimmer of a smile he threw back to her, he'd probably heard it too.
Well, a guy like that had to be aware of the effect he had on women. She had just never thought of herself as predictable.
He hung up the phone. "They say two hours, but they also said that there are people stranded all over Denver right now. I have no idea how long it will be. Are you sure it's okay? I don't want you to get in trouble for letting me in."
"It's no trouble." Especially since the opening manager was a single woman. She'd take one look at him and understand Melody's decision. "I've got to get back to work, though. Do you want some coffee?"
"I'd kill for some coffee."
"I'm not sure I like the choice of words, but I understand the sentiment." Melody smiled at the flash of embarrassment that crossed his face. "Have a seat and I'll get you a cup. One of the perks of the night shift — unlimited caffeine."
"Sounds like more of a requirement than a perk."
"Sometimes." She found a ceramic mug under the counter and then went to the vacuum carafe that held the coffee she'd made a few hours earlier. She pushed the plunger to dispense a cup and set it on the counter. "Cream and sugar are over there."
"I take mine black." He retrieved the mug and warmed his hand around it for a moment before he took a sip. "It's good.
"Sure." She'd said she needed to get back to work, but now she found herself hovering awkwardly behind the counter. It seemed weird to leave a stranger out here by himself — even weirder that she was reluctant to walk away.
He was looking around the bakery. "So, you're the only one here?"
Now Melody took an involuntary step back, red flags waving wildly in the periphery of her mind.
He picked up on her tension and held up one hand. "Forget I said that. It sounded less creepy in my head. I just meant, are you the one responsible for all that bread? It seems like a lot of work for one person." He gestured to the metal bins behind the counter, still awaiting their bounty for the day's customers.
"Usually I have an assistant on the weekend, but yeah. It's mostly me."
"Impressive." His nod made her think he meant it.
"Not really. This isn't baking."
"What is it then?"
Melody shrugged. "Assembling, maybe? But it's a job, and working with bread all day beats sitting behind a desk in an office."
He saluted her with a coffee cup. "I hear that. Exactly why I went into aviation."
A little smile formed on her lips. She'd expected a guy that good-looking to be arrogant, but his relaxed, comfortable attitude suggested the opposite. "I'm not supposed to let anyone back here, but if you want to keep me company ..."
He straightened from his perch by the counter. "If I wouldn't be bothering you. Normally I'd stream a video or put on a pod-cast, but ..."
"Dead phone. Right." She moved back to the kitchen, aware of him following behind. She nodded toward a stool by the door. "You can sit there if you like."
He shrugged off his wet overcoat and hung it on the hook by the door, then perched on the stool. She couldn't resist giving him a subtle once-over from the corner of her eye. Seemed like in addition to being unfairly good-looking, he had the physique to match — tall, lean, broad-shouldered. From the way his slim-cut white uniform shirt skimmed his torso, she would not at all be surprised if it were hiding six-pack abs.
She could tell already that this guy wasn't the type to let himself go soft from too much sitting and bad airport food. He probably had a gym membership or a personal trainer or something to stay in that kind of shape.
She shook herself before she could become another pilot groupie. Focus, Melody.
Starting on the next tub of dough gave her something to think about other than the man sitting a mere five feet away from her. She started cutting and weighing the dough. "So what kind of planes do you fly? 747s or something like that?"
"No. Not anymore. Light business jets."
"Like for executives?"
"Executives, politicians, athletes, celebrities. I work for a fractional, so it's different people all the time. You know, they buy a share of a particular plane so they can travel whenever they want without having to pay for the whole thing and the cost of having a crew on standby."
"Do you enjoy it?"
Melody cast a look his direction. "That didn't sound very convincing."
Justin chuckled and rubbed a hand through his hair. "Had you not asked me at the end of a seven-day, twenty-five-leg tour — followed by being stranded in the snow — I probably would have said yes, absolutely."
"Okay, I guess I can give you that one. You said, 'Not anymore.' You used to be an airline pilot?"
"Do you always ask so many questions?"
"By my count, that's only three."
"Five." He ticked off on his fingers. "What kind of planes? 747s? Executives? Do I enjoy it? And did I used to be an airline pilot?"
Melody rolled her eyes, but she laughed. "You must be fun at parties. Answer the question."
"I flew for a regional 121 operator out of Texas for a while ... one of the smaller companies that code-shares with the majors."
"And you left because ..."
He shook his head, like he realized he wasn't going to get out of the conversation. "The pay wasn't great and the schedule sucked. I flew twenty-four days out of the month, which meant I usually stayed in hotels twenty of those. Now I work eighteen days a month for more money, and even though there's a lot of waiting around for passengers, I actually get to fly instead of babysit autopilot."
"You seem pretty young to be a pilot."
"You seem pretty young to be a baker."
"How old should a baker be?"
"I don't know. But they shouldn't be young and stunning."
Heat rose to Melody's cheeks before she could control it. "Are you hitting on me?"
"If I were trying to hit on you, you wouldn't have to ask." He caught her gaze, his expression dead serious. Just when she feared she wouldn't be able to breathe again, his mouth widened into a grin.
The flush eased when she realized he was just teasing her. "You're terrible."
"I'm honest." He hopped off the stool. "Is it okay if I get more coffee?"
"Help yourself." She let out a long exhale when he left the room. That guy was dangerous. He was gorgeous and he knew it. He had a sexy job and he knew it ... even if he pretended to be blasé about it.
Pretty much the sort of guy she was always attracted to and lived to regret. In fact, the more attracted to a man she was, the worse off she knew she'd be at the end when the relationship imploded like a popped soufflé.
Judging from the little quivers she felt in his presence, a mere twenty minutes after their first meeting, this one was a heartbreaker.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Brunch at Bittersweet Café"
Copyright © 2019 Carla Laureano.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is filled with bookish culinary delight! From the first line to the very end, Carla Laureano swept me away to Denver, Colorado. Ms. Laureano has such a gift with words. She put me in the dead of winter. Let me experience the smell and feel of baking bread. (Seriously, is that not the best smell ever?!) She helped me experience that tingle of attraction when you meet a guy that has the looks (and an awesome job to boot!). Ms. Laureano doesn’t just write a story, she brings it to life. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. The review was not required nor influenced.
I love how unique Carla Laureano’s novels are! Each one is an experience as rich and textured as any French pastry (I’m sure!). Be warned, though, reading any of these Saturday Night Supper Club novels will leave you with some serious cravings. I wish I had my own friend skilled in the art of French pastries, but alas, some things happen only rarely. ;) Brunch at Bittersweet Café continues to explore these three friends, this time from Melody’s point of view. Melody is such a fun character, and one I could relate to more than Rachel. She’s driven, but flighty. Talented, but still yearning for something more. Justin is an equally strong, convincing character. He’s not your ‘typical’ pilot. Pain from his past makes him shy from commitment, and yet he is one of the most loyal, thoughtful guys. What I really loved about their dynamic was that it felt real-world. They struggled and dealt with all the questions that go into a relationship—and more as their deadline drew close. And when it finally came down to it, the things they learned along the way were just as applicable to my life as theirs. Carla brings home truth in this fun, engaging, and romantic novel, and I really never wanted to leave. If you enjoy a solid, stick-with-you contemporary romance and don’t mind the distinct possibility you may end up binge watching The Great British Baking Show, then I beg of you, pick up Brunch at Bittersweet Café. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Rarely do I describe a book in food terms but this delicious Christian novel is deserving of being called comforting, rich and satisfying! If Brunch At Bittersweet Café was a physical café, it would go on my favourite spots list! Fortunately, this wholesome novel has a predecessor, The Saturday Night Supper Club which is fantastic, and there is another in the series coming – yay! The three central ladies, Rachel, Melody and Ana are wonderful characters, fully formed with quirks, challenges and a great sense of humour. Melody is the focus of this book and her journey to finding herself, her purpose and her worth. Justin connects with Melody and through their relationship, they both explore God’s way of guiding our lives and caring for us. I so enjoyed the way Carla elegantly but honestly handles the topic through the characters and brings about resolution. Carla captures emotions and perceives people so well in her books such as “By the time she got to the step of piping the batter, now chocolate colored and flavored, onto parchment, the fist in her stomach has begun to ease its grip. Baking might be an art, but it was predictable and scientific in a way life could never be.” “And then on the pastry side, it’s an utter indulgence. No one needs dessert. People order it to celebrate special occasions or brighten up a bad day. And there’s nothing better than seeing the delight on a guest’s face when they order something unexpectedly whimsical or taste something that’s better than they could have imagined.” I highly recommend it and give it five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale with the proviso, don’t read it hungry and be sure to have good snacks to hand…croissants, macarons, patisserie custard recommended!
Flight, food and faith My rating is 4.5 stars I loved the way Melody used baking as a coping mechanism. Having dealt with feelings of abandonment most of her life, she became very skilled at baking. . . Justin appeared to be a stereotypical pilot - handsome and self-assured and yet Melody discovered he had many layers and all wasn't as it appeared. I loved that even though he never sought deep relationships, he was not shallow and refused to lead any woman on or treat her with less than respect. And he certainly knew how to make a grand gesture! Both Melody and Justin had to learn to understand faith. To be able to see that God caring didn't necessarily mean that bad things wouldn't happen. I felt that the author did a great job in making their faith journey a natural part of the narrative. I also liked the way they both had to come to realize that not everything was as they thought - they both had significant misconceptions that colored their world. The writing is so great! Not only are there millions of quotable lines, the descriptions of the food were amazing. And I don't even like many of the foods they talked about. Well, except the non-bread and dessert foods. The desserts and breads sounded yummy! I enjoyed learning more about flying through this story. I had some misconceptions that were cleared up. It was also fun to learn more about commercial baking. The author shared a great many details without dragging the story down at all. Though Brunch at Bittersweet Café couldn't be mistaken for a Cinderella re-telling, there was a fun thread about the fairy tale throughout. Though subtle, it was there nonetheless and added a fun element as I watched for more hints of it as I read. Write quickly, Sarah Sundin! Write quickly! Read with a Preview at AmongTheReads.net I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.
While there are plenty of sweet moments in Brunch at Bittersweet Café, I wouldn’t be quick to peg this as a “fluff” read with no substance. In this captivating story, Ms. Laureano tackles subjects such as: following your lifelong dream, grief, and even dysfunctional relationships (with family and with God.) She tosses in an occasional literary reference which will appeal to readers who enjoy the classics. And you’ll find enough details of food and pastries to satisfy both, your hunger and your sweet tooth. With many savory moments, there is a great balance of lessons to learn from and romance to swoon about. Another great read from Carla Laureano.
DELECTABLE TREAT! BRUNCH AT BITTERSWEET CAFÉ (Supper Club #2) by Carla Laureano is a Delectable Treat! It may be read as a stand-alone. However, in order to truly appreciate the passion of the characters in this plot, they need to be read in sequential order. You will miss out on what drives these characters to be the way they are in you skip THE SATURDAY NIGHT SUPPER CLUB (it is a fantastic novel, too!). This plot is a roller coaster ride of relationships, family dynamics, emotions, a business startup, marketing strategies, learning about real love and dependence on God and not on yourself. In the midst of that ride, Laureano will have your taste buds on High Alert as she sprinkles in ingredients and Recipes throughout her novel. This is a novel that illustrates how FAMILY - whether it’s the one you’re born in or you create for yourself is so fundamentally important, FOOD - tried and true Recipes and new ones that explode all your taste buds truly does nurture you, FAITH - that God has the best plan and it’s best to not take matters into your own hands and SACRIFICE - for the ones that you love because that’s what God teaches us to do. I was provided an ARC of this novel by the author. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence. I have preordered a copy for my own personal collection.
I loved it!! When I opened this book I was intrigued by Melody. She's a French trained baker and works in a chain bakery to prepare baked goods for the following day. She has no chance to use her own recipes or talent to bring a little bit of Paris to Denver. A cold, snowy night and a chance meeting Justin, a pilot, and the next thing you know her life is no longer the predicable life she knew. Melody is a character that feels deeply and acts on her feelings. She was basically raised by her grandmother who was a professor and introduced her to works of literature that she loved. In fact she spent her college years persuing an education in literature, but while working at a bakery in school she found her one true love: baking. At present Melody is not anywhere close to where she thought she would be in her life. I think we all have had these same feeling at one time or another. I think her doubts and disappointments is what makes this character feel real to life for me. She has a vulnerability that most can relate to, but she is also a strong character. Melody would love to open her own place and when the opportunity comes available she talks to her friend, Rachel, who's a chef about a partnership that would make both their dreams come true. This book has elements of romance, grief, disappointments, adventure of falling in love, heartbreak and most of all faith. Oh, I don't want to forget to mention the delicious food. I am a big fan of the British Baking Show and it was almost like watching another episode with Paul and Mary.lol This is the second book in The Saturday Night Supper Club series from Laureano, but for me it was a stand alone as I had not read the previous book in the series. This captivating and heartwarming story is one I would recommend to anyone.
If you salivated over the amazing dishes in the first book in this series, you’re in for a treat. All the delicious breads and pastries your heart desires appear between the pages, and I’m left wondering how much of this passion for food is directly attributed to the author or just something she’s heavily researched. As a massive fan of baking - I have my tried and true favourites, but I have a love of recipe books too, and love to browse through the many things I’ll never make! Each year the women of my family (my sisters and in laws) follow the Great British Bake-Off (which is retitled as the Baking Show for the US audience). Each week we all have to choose something from the show and make it exactly as directed. We post on social media our results, sometimes they are winners and most the time hilarious epic fails. But it’s fun, and entertaining for our friends. Food lends itself to creativity. We all need to eat, but how much more enjoyment do we get when it’s a passion? The Saturday Night Supper Club was a great opener for this series revolving around 3 friends. I loved the direction that Bittersweet took. Melody is a likeable character with a lot going on emotionally and spiritually. We can find ourselves surviving but not really living. This is the case for Melody. Justin is a character I wouldn’t have imagined would have worked well for her, but surprisingly we get to know his true heart, where his spirit is - the direction he wants to go also. With both of them headed in different directions we have quite simply an unpredictable but engaging plot. So well written, so much food to drool over - and three friends who continue to face life’s biggest challenges together. I can’t wait to discover Ana’s story. She’s somewhat of a mystery to me. I received a complimentary copy. This is my honest review.
If you remember (I don't necessarily expect you to) it's been just days over 11 months ago when I first gushed over this author. 'The Saturday Night Supper Club' was my first Carla Laureano book. I vowed then it wouldn't be my last. And here we are! And guess what? I absolutely loved this book as well. Melody is a train wreck, not necessarily in a disaster way, but definitely a train wreck. A slew of failed, intense yet failed, relationships. A stream of abandoned jobs, mostly due to failed relationships, that keeps her from following her true passion. And two 'drop everything and meet' best friends who have the ability to make things better. Not that they always do but the power is there. Melody, more so than Rachel, is so very relatable. Not that Rachel wasn't but Laureano created something in Melody that goes beyond just understanding. She managed to weave a perfectly flawed, minorly broken, person who has lived her life with all the good and bad. She's not shamed for having lived with her former boyfriends. She's not shamed from having a touch and go relationship with God. She's just a person, living her life, building her dreams, and just trying to find her next right thing. We need more Christian fiction like this. More that focuses more on the person than the sins, so to speak. More that is a reminder that what we have done is not who we are. I think if there was more fiction like this then there would be more Christians like this. We are so busy judging each other and judging ourselves for our (their) sins that we forget we are all just human beings trying to do the next right thing. We forget that we all, even Job, struggle with our faith at times. Melody is such an example of truly just trying to do the next right thing. There were a few little hiccups for me with this book though, more so than the first one. I did got bogged down in the food descriptions. Sometimes I felt like it was talking over me, if that makes sense. I would have appreciated this if there had been more description for understanding it would have made a difference between kinda annoying and totally OK by adding to the story. I saw the judgemental side of Rachel and Ana that I didn't see in the last book. Judgemental toward Justin and his career and his faith. I didn't see that so much from Ana and Melody toward Alex ya know? I mean, if I did I don't remember. I'm sticking with that version of events. This book is all finding your niche in the world, whether it be wasting talents at a chain bakery or buying your own charter flight business. It's about building the career of your dreams of finding your dreams aren't necessarily tied up in your career. It's about more than just first impressions and second thoughts. I didn't get bogged down in the romance (thank you!). Overall, this is the perfect book to spend a cozy weekend. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Plans and perspectives play an important role in this delightful culinary romance and it is a good thing literary indulgences are calorie-free! The delectable desserts in Melody's repertoire are enough to send my sweet tooth into witness protection. Melody reminds me of a hummingbird, artistic and free-spirited with a firecracker personality and she never stays in one place too long. Melody's insecurities and rocky relationships sparked my protective instincts and I wanted to take her under my wing like she was my own sister or friend. Justin is an aviation rockstar or at least he deserves to be with his uber-overachievements. The author presented the piloting portions of the story with such vivid detail. Justin's loyalty and sacrificial love make him a top-notch hero while his flaws keep him relatable and genuine. This story, these friends, and all that delicious food took my senses and emotions on an unexpectedly turbulent ride and I loved every minute. I highly recommend not only this story but the previous book in this series as well. I am eagerly anticipating future stories from this author! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
This was an interesting read filled with realistic characters and situations. Melody and Justin both had issues from their past that had to be dealt with, and their goals took them in different directions, but their story kept me engaged and not wanting to put the book down. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.
I absolutely loved this book! Ms. Laureano has truly written a book that I will not be satisfied reading just once. Saturday Night Supper Club #1 is a wonderful book, but I loved this one even more. She made her characters so real that I felt like I knew them - and I didn’t want to leave them! The book is a story of renewed faith resulting from unsatisfying efforts to plan our lives ourselves. Justin and Melody are drawn into a bittersweet relationship that seemingly has no future, but they cannot resist continuing. It is rare to read a book that I could not figure out how the couple could end up together. And Ms. Laureano waited until the very last pages to give them their happily ever after! This book is full of planning, creating and baking wonderful treats. Oh how I loved reading about them! And the friendship between Melody, Rachel and Ana added to the story and made it richer. This is truly a book to be savored! I received this book from the publisher for an honest review. This is truly my opinion.
What a fascinating book! As one who is married to an executive chef, and a baker myself, I found myself totally immersed in the story. Melody sounds like a person that would be so much fun to get to know. Her belief that God has everything in control seems so very wrong to her friend Justin. In order to follow your dream, or passion, you had to set a course and then stick to it, or so they both thought. Was it possible to deviate from that path and still have everything your heart desired? Could they learn to accept that 'all things work together for good', even as they looked back into the past? A lovely story with such wonderful detail, I found myself getting hungry as I read. I received this ARC from Tyndale Publishers and CelebrateLit. All impressions and opinions are my own.
Absolutely loved Brunch at Bitterstreet Cafe! Devoured this book in two days. Carla weaves a delightful tale of friends, baking, love, and faith together. She keeps you turning the pages even when you know you should head to bed. So fix a yourself a good cup of coffee and a sweet treat and sit back and enjoy!
Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is amazing and wonderful! First, let me say that I work from home. It was all I could do not to steal time from work to finish this book! It's that good! I love Melody! I did read the first book in this series The Saturday Night Supper Club and I didn't really dig Melody that much, she seemed flighty and went from job to job. After reading Brunch, she's my fave! I love that she's a real person, who has made some mistakes and grown from them. She's not flighty, she just had some issues and had to work through things, like all of us. And every time she baked something I could smell it and taste it and wanted to put my face in the dough! Carla Laureano does a superlative job of character development (they all had depth and seem real) and food description. I seriously wanted to buy some bread and eat an entire loaf while reading this! I can't wait for the next book in the series! And I will add you can totally read this as a standalone but if you can get the first book, start there. It's wonderful also!
What a mouth-watering read! Carla Laureano has created another heart warming story! If you love The Great British Baking Show with a side of romance, this book is for you! Although it is the second book in a series, it can be read as a stand alone book. You will be quickly drawn in to the world of Melody and her friends. Melody is searching for purpose and fulfilling her dreams. We see her grow in her professional and personal life. Note: I received a free digital copy of this book. This did not influence my review. I loved all the characters and their relationship with each other. My only complaint is that we can’t taste her incredible recipes! You won’t regret stopping by The Bittersweet Cafe! Note: I received a free digital copy of this book. This did not influence my review. All thoughts or opinions are my own.
'He'd thought that God was distant, but until now, he'd never thought He was cruel.' Melody Johansson, baker and pastry chef, has had a string of relationship disasters when a handsome stranger knocks at the door of the bakery in the wee hours of the morning and explains that his car is stuck in the snow. Melody lets him in and wonders if this is a sign from God. Justin Keller, private pilot, is definitely not looking for a relationship. His schedule is much too demanding for that. It has never been compatible with a relationship and he doubts it ever will be. Then why does he feel this pull toward Melody? Melody and Justin are so drawn to each other that their better judgment flies right out the window. They begin to spend time together, knowing it can't go anywhere. Very soon Melody has a chance to open her own bakery, a wonderful dream of hers, and at the same time Justin has sunk his life savings into a new business venture with his sister and brother in law seventeen hundred miles away. Impossible choices are mounting and neither Melody nor Justin can figure a way out of them and still continue in their relationship. Can Melody realize her dream or does she give up the love of her life? And Justin faces the same desperate choices. I became a forever fan of Carla Laureano's work with her first book (which I have read twice) and this one is completely captivating. Her style of writing is just indescribable. You just fall into the book and don't want to come out. There is so very much to like about this book: the scrumptious food she has these characters making (I hungered after it!), the compelling characters who seem real and a swoon worthy romance that will leave you breathless. Laureano's writing has never been better. Her ability to absolutely bring every emotion of her characters onto the page is so perfect, to the point of simply being lost in the pages. Brunch at the Bittersweet Café is like sitting down to a fine meal spread before you with something to please every appetite. To top off the outstanding meal, a delicious romance that will allow you to get up from the table completely satisfied. Add in a powerful spiritual element and this book is a winner in every way. Bravo! Highly recommended and destined to be one of my top ten reads of the year. *I was proved with a preview copy of this book by the publisher and author. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
If you are a fan of food and friends, you’ll love this series! And this second book is even better than the first one! I really enjoyed getting to know pastry chef/baker Melody Johannson, her mother, and of course Justin (swoon). I love this author’s characters because they seem so real. I can’t wait for book three; I hear it will be Ana’s story. Note: I received an advance digital copy of this book which in no way has influenced my positive review.
My first read for this author but definitely not my last! In Colorado, Melody Johansson, is working in a commercial bakery. Already 30, she thinks it may be time to leave the job she’s had for six months, the longest time she’d been in one place. She’s been wanting to travel and go back to Europe. A knock at the bakery door at 4 am is unsettling. After seeing the man and hearing his reason, seeing his id and his stranded car, she lets Justin Keller in to use the bakery phone. He stays in the bakery awaiting a tow truck. He is a pilot Why do most pilots seem to be handsome? Melody’s shift is over and still no tow truck. She offers to give Justin a ride home and he takes her up on it. After she drops him at his home, she finds herself wishing she had given him her number. The next day is the Saturday Night Supper Club. Melody always makes dessert. For some time she has taken pictures of her dessert creations and posted to Instagram. Over 10,000 followers is pretty good. At dinner her friends Ana and Rachel encourage her to find a way to use her Instagram following to her advantage. Melody tells them about Justin. Ana asks for her cell phone and proceeds to find Justin on Facebook and sends a friend request to him from Melody. Checking out his Facebook pictures sees one of Justin and his niece at church. Wow Christian and a good uncle. Melody and her friends comment it’s been awhile since they’ve been to church. Melody’s mother shows up to tell Melody her grandmother has died. Melody inherits her grandmothers house and investments. A letter from her grandmother encourages her to sell things and if Paris is her desire to use the funds for that dream. She could do that. Or she could open a restaurant/bakery with her friends Meanwhile Justin is thinking about Melody and that she seemed to have some religious faith while he was currently ambivalent towards God. Justin’s sister Jessica has MS. A warmer client will help. Justin and Jessica’s husband Pete are looking into a charter business in the Ft Lauderdale area. Melody yearns for Europe, or does she? Will she sell her grandmothers house and go to Paris? Justin yearns for South Florida. Or is that just what he wants for his sister? Will he move there? Melody believes in and trusts in God. Justin believes in but doesn’t have trust in God. Will they work it out?. Will they let go and let God, and both trust in him?
I absolutely love The Saturday Night Supper Club, so I had high hopes for Brunch at Bittersweet Café, and I was not disappointed! While both of these books can be read as standalone stories, they really make more sense if they’re read in order. Saturday Night Supper Club gives us an introduction to a trio of strong women with incredible passion and drive. Brunch at Bittersweet Café really delves deeper into not just Melody’s background and personality but also her relationships with Rachel and Ana. Having had a somewhat dysfunctional childhood, Melody really leans on those friendships like family. When she meets Justin and quickly becomes involved, her friends are understandably skeptical, given Melody’s horrible track record with men. Justin, a private pilot, is also a product of a somewhat unstable childhood. Between his upbringing and his career, he is reluctant to make commitments or to become too attached to anyone. This is challenged when he meets Melody, a woman unlike any other that he’s known. As they decide to go ahead with their relationship despite their impending separation, everything becomes more complicated. We get to see how this plays out, and it’s a delicious, exciting ride! Between the descriptions of the desserts and the private planes, I’m ready for a vacation to Denver! While the story is extremely captivating, there are some important issues that are examined in this book. Both Justin and Melody ask hard questions of God, of each other, and of themselves. There are so many moments in the story where I can relate so much to Melody! Some of the struggles that she and Justin individually face, the questions of faith that they wrestle with, are ones that are highly relatable for all of us at times, I think. The author so skillfully and sensitively shows us the importance of recognizing the Lord’s plan for us, the blessing of His hand in our lives, and the need to wait on His will and timing. I highly recommend this book for its feast of the senses! It made me feel so hopeful about continuing to seek the Lord in my own life! I must admit that it also left me wanting to make a trip to the nearest patisserie! I received a copy of this book from the author and am under no obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Carla Laureano has done it again! The story of Melody, a supporting character in her novel, "The Saturday Night Supper Club," and her new potential pilot beau, Justin, is one that will hook you from the first smell of freshly baked bread. Melody is a multi layered character, and Justin has a unique story of his own that develops as you sift through the story. What begins as a chance meeting after a car breakdown turns into a life altering series of events, wrapping up in a way I didn't expect. Food is a character within this series, and the descriptors Laureano uses are enough to make you long for high end pastries, carefully crafted dinners and fresh baked croissants. She always does a great job of immersing the reader in the world within a restaurant, or in this case, a bakery/café. (Don't read this if you're hungry. :) ) I enjoyed the way Laureano places the value of faith within the ensemble of characters' lives and does not always neatly wrap things up. Everything is not what we assume it is, and that leads to challenges of belief, friendships that can be both helpful and supportive or concerned and dismissive, family issues that horn in on what otherwise might be a fairy tale story, and the very real relational issues found in groups of peers. I don't often read contemporary romantic fiction, but Carla Laureano is a voice I have really come to enjoy. I like the way she weaves stories and food together, allowing the reader to see from the inside out what it's like to jump into a Food Network show or dine in a high end restaurant. It takes a lot to keep me interested in a series, but her stories are well written and researched. I am already looking forward to the next book, which shares another supporting character's personal story, this time centered around coffee. I was honored and excited to be an early reader. All opinions are my own and I appreciate the chance to fall in love with the next story in the Supper Club series.
Sometimes in a book series subsequent books are not quite as good as the first, but that’s not the case with Brunch at Bittersweet Café, the second novel in Carla Laureano’s Super Club series. Melody Johansson and Justin Keller are the focus of this book, and both are intriguing and memorable characters. Of course, we also see other characters from book one, but they are for the most part in the periphery. Laureano has done a superb job of conveying complex issues realistically, which made me sad, mad, but ultimately happy with the outcome. There’s many examples of how a strong faith can see you through hard times, and how real friends are there for you when times are good and when times are bad. And, if you’re a bread lover like me, you’ll be in heaven with all the talk of bread. Brunch at Bittersweet Café is a tender, funny romance worth reading. Five stars for sure. I received an ARC; however, I have ordered a copy for my library.
Brunch at the Bittersweet Cafe was an enjoyable read, I couldn't put it down. The meet cute between Justin and Melody was one my favorites, and I appreciated the tie in between how they met and why they see each other again. I also liked that you got to see both of the main characters actually in their profession and you find out why they like to do what they do.
Carla does not disappoint with her newest release! The characters' past collides with their present and the transformation in their lives professionally, emotionally, and spiritually is beautifully captivating. This is a must read with something sweet to eat on the side! I received an advance full version of the book from the publisher for the purpose of giving an honest review. This is my honest review.
"Judging from the little quivers she felt in his presence, a mere twenty minutes after their first meeting, this one was a heartbreaker." Such a delightful world of delectable desserts and aviation! I don't know a lot about either one of these worlds, but Carla Laureano combines them vividly and beautifully in this heartbreaking, soul-searching contemporary romance. The dialogue is fun, incredible, and witty especially between Justin and Melody. The plot is well-paced and well-crafted, as is the writing. And the characters! Melody is down-to-earth and lovable and Justin is a swoony hero. And we also get a continuation on Rachel and Alex's story (Saturday Night Supper Club, book 1 in the series) in this book, which is just the icing on the cake. This is book 2 in the series but can definitely be read as a stand-alone. Melody is a pastry chef with a ton of emotional baggage from her childhood that she acknowledges. She's artsy, creative, impulsive, free-spirited, but optimistic and tries to bring that ray of sunshine wherever she goes. Justin is a charter pilot who is loyal, devoted to family, fun, charismatic, and a type A planner. He unfortunately also has a ton of emotional baggage from his parents' divorce, his sister's medical diagnosis, and his martyr-like attitude toward his beloved profession. Throw in some snowy days in Denver, CO and there is magic that stirs in the air. Even as they grow close, they each must figure out what they really want out of life and what God really means to them. Such a heartfelt story of love and dreams. If you enjoy contemporary romance that grabs at your heartstrings and tear ducts, you will not want to miss this one. I was given a copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers and via Celebrate Lit Tours. I was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.