Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano – Book Review, Preview

Posted February 12, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways /

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Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano - Book Review, Preview

As we boarded the tiny airplane, the flight attendant announced that we should ignore the seat assignments and that everyone needed to sit in the rear of the plane to balance the weight!

What a way to give your passengers confidence!

This was by far the smallest airplane I had ever been on – I don’t think it seated more than 30 people despite being a commercial plane. It felt like we barely skimmed the tops of the trees as we traveled from Washington D.C. to Raleigh, NC.

It is probably the closest I will ever get to the chartered flight experience. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to fly in a small plane that was destined to go wherever I wanted it to!

Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano – Book Review, Preview

Brunch at Bittersweet Café

by Carla Laureano

Series: The Saturday Night Supper Club #2
Series Rating:
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date February 5, 2019
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Colorado Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 432


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 country--an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-caf� 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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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Flight, food, and faith

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.

Carla's Brunch at the Bittersweet Cafe Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest) [gs_pinterest user="laureano_carla" board="brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe"]

Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker

by Carla Laureano

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.


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Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

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Inklings and Notions, February 21

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Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22

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God is Love, February 24

Book by Book, February 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 24

Janices book reviews, February 24

Lukewarm Tea, February 25

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A Baker’s Perspective, February 25

Bigreadersite, February 25


To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macron baking mat, a macron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

About Carla Laureano

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.

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