This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
When Caroline Brant opens her cupcake shop, she has no idea that she is setting herself up as competition for the French bakery on the next block over. And while one of the two brothers who own the place is taking her presence in stride, the other is really very unhappy that she's there. When a fire at Les Deux Freres forces the brothers to share Caroline's kitchen to deal with their holiday rush, a romance develops as Caroline and Michel start baking bread together.
However, all is not what it seems with the handsome baker and when he leaves for vacation and abandons both her and his business, betraying his brother and leaving behind a huge trail of debt, it falls to Caroline to try and save both the French bakery and her own shop, as well as the jobs of everyone involved, including her nemesis Philippe.
Caroline is just a nerdy girl with a piping bag, can she really save everyone from ruin with some spreadsheets and a bit of self-sacrifice? And when forced to make a decision, which brother will she choose?
A really great romance novel for people who don't normally read romance novels!
I don't have much experience with the romance genre, but I like cupcakes and I've enjoyed Sheryl Kirby's writing as a food critic and blogger for a while now, so when I heard that she was releasing a novel I was quite interested to she how her style worked in a fictional setting. After reading Caroline's Cupcakes, I'm happy to report that her style translates very well! Her debut novel is smart, sassy, and very engaging, and I found myself enjoying it with much the same appreciation that I would enjoy a particularly tasty cupcake.
The novel's setting and Kirby's detailed descriptions of life in a bakery truly appealed to my appreciation for baked goods, but the greatest strenght of Caroline's Cupckages comes from how well developed and real her characters are, and the fact that they retain those qualities throughout. It's not long before heroine Caroline gets swept off her feet, but she stays focused on her goals and dreams for her store under her own terms, and when push comes to shove it's that focus that saves the day for everybody. Michael is charming and witty and really very dreamy in many ways, but he's still committed to his baking and his yeast-y charge. And of course, pastry chef Philippe may not be the friendliest guy in the room, but you can't help appreciating his grumpiness when you realize what a madly talented artist he is. All of these characters and more are fully realized and stay true to themsleves, maintaining their own personalities and beliefs even when love walks in the front door of Caroline's shop. That kind of consistency seems both real and refreshing to me, and I tip my hat to Kirby for getting all of her characters so right.
That consistency in charachter, that strength of self, that's what sells Caroline's Cupcakes for me. I cared about the characters, all of them, and in many ways they were real to me, because throughout the novel they acted how I would expect real people to act. I found myself wrapped up in their story, eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next because I was invested in what was going on in their lives and where they were headed. And at the end of it all I was even a little sad that I had to say goodbye because I had grown so fond of them. And dammit, if that isn't the mark of a good book, I don't know what is!
Having read Caroline's Cupcakes, I've realized that there might be a book section that I'm missing out on, a section that may be worth taking a second look at. But regardless of whether I pursue the romance genre any further or not, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for Sheryl Kirby's next novel. Given how much I enjoyed Caroline's Cupcakes, I'm already looking forward to seeing what other tasty literary treats Kirby has in store for us...