Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review: "Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe" by Carla Laureano

Happy Valentine's Day!!! Could a book scream "February" more than this one? The font makes it look romantic, and sweet treats bring Valentine's Day to mind. Basically, I'm saying that this is a perfect read for your Valentine's Day.

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

Genre: Christian romance
Release Date: February 5, 2019

July 2020 update: I recently reread this novel, and, well, let's just say I took the book totally differently! I do think my initial thoughts were valid, so I'm leaving that review below, but I also want to give my updated thoughts and star rating.

The romance between Melody and Justin didn't feel particularly passionate/chemistry-filled, but it also felt real. Melody's reaction when she lost Justin—to get angry at God and basically see her faith crumble—struck me as very authentic. And I loved that she ended up not chasing him or giving up her dream for him! As I read, I really didn't know how it would end ... it's not one of those clearly telegraphed, predictable love stories. And when I finished this book, my first thought was that I needed to get my hands on the next one, which is always a good sign :-) 4-1/2 stars.

Now for my original thoughts:

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is another engaging "foodie" novel from Carla Laureano. Fans of The Great British Baking Show will see lots of recognizable terms and foods as baker and pastry chef Melody uses baking and bookstagram as a way to help work through her problems.

I really liked Melody as a character, and I loved that she's a bookstagrammer. Though that's our only point of commonality—her personality is very different from mine—reading that immediately endeared her to me! She's definitely a better bookstagrammer than I am (for now!), but I am improving :-)

I loved reading about Melody's plans to open a cafe with her friend Rachel (heroine of The Saturday Night Supper Club), and I especially enjoyed the relationships she had with Rachel and their other friend Ana. I would guess that Ana's story probably comes next, but I hope that Laureano also writes about Talia, the pastry chef Melody hires near the end of the novel, as her story sounds fascinating!

Did you notice that I'm three paragraphs into this review, and I haven't mentioned the romance yet? That's because I didn't particularly care for Melody and Justin as a couple, and not only did I not care if they ended up together, but I was almost actively rooting against them. While I appreciated that Justin determined not to take advantage of Melody physically, he definitely was using her emotionally. Their relationship read as very self-centered to me for most of the novel. Interestingly, I've struggled with the romances in the other two Laureano books I've read. For whatever reason, I love her non-romance plots, but the romances don't resonate with me.

I do know that I'm in the minority where the romance is concerned—a quick perusal of Goodreads or Amazon will show you that most readers loved everything about this book. But for me, I liked it but didn't love it. 3-1/2 stars.

Note: This is the second book in the Supper Club series, but it works as a stand-alone novel.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of The Saturday Night Supper Club (4 stars) and London Tides (4 stars).

Follow the blog tour:
Quiet Quilter, February 12
Among the Reads, February 12
Lighthouse Academy, February 12
By The Book, February 12
The Power of Words, February 13
As He Leads is Joy, February 13
Cultivating Us, February 13
Blossoms and Blessings, February 13
Fiction Aficionado, February 14
The Lit Addict, February 14
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14
This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15
Just the Write Escape, February 15
100 Pages per Hour, February 15
Splashes of Joy, February 15
Bibliophile Reviews, February 16
Texas Book-aholic, February 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16
C Jane Read, February 17
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17
Moments, February 17
Back Porch Reads, February 17
Cordially Barbara, February 18
enesis 5020, February 18
Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18
Livin’ Lit, February 19
Kat’s Corner Books, February 19
Life with the Tribe, February 19
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19
Through the Fire Blogs, February 20
Remembrancy, February 20
Vicky Sluiter, February 20
Living Life Free in Christ, February 20
2014 and Beyond!, February 21
Daysong Reflections, February 21
Inklings and Notions, February 21
Pause for Tales, February 21
Cafinated Reads, February 22
Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22
two points of interest, February 22
Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22
My Devotional Thoughts, February 23
Two Girls and a Book, February 23
The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23
For the love of books, February 23
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
Carpe Diem, February 25
A Baker’s Perspective, February 25
Bigreadersite, February 25


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

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

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.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Would enjoy reading this fun book! Vivian Furbay jtandviv (@) q (dot) com

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

    Sounds like a wonderful book and one that I would thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to read.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kay! I hope you do get to read it!

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I love this cover. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance.

    Tighefan42atgmail dotcom

    1. The cover is stunning, isn't it? One of my favorites recently :-) Thanks for stopping by!


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