BOOK REVIEW: The Trouble With Love by Beth Ciotta

This is book two of the trilogy Cupcake Lovers.  Rocky Monroe is the owner of a bed and breakfast in Sugar Creek, Vermont.  She’s also president of the Cupcake Lover’s club, a group of women (and one hunky man) that bakes cupcakes to raise money for charities.  Ten years ago, when she was only 17, she lost her virginity to her brothers’ best friend and family friend, Jayce Bello.  He was 22 at the time and overwhelmed with the love he felt for Rocky and the fear of being found out by her brothers.  He felt at the time that the best thing he could do was leave town, so he begins a new life in New York City.  Rocky was hurt and confused and claims to hate Jayce, but in reality, she can’t get him out of her head.  It would be helpful to read book one first – Fool For Love – as it sets up the background story of Rocky and Jayce.  But if you don’t get to read it, you can still understand the dynamics between them.

Rocky needs to go to New York City to help negotiate a publishing deal for the Cupcake Lover’s Club’s first cookbook.  Of course the very first day she is there, she gets mugged and hit by a car.  Having no money and reluctantly needing help, she calls Jayce, who is more than happy to help.  He’s been doing a lot of thinking and has just made the decision to move back to Sugar Creek and try to come to terms with his demons about his family and to try to reconcile with Rocky.  The timing of Rocky’s call couldn’t have come at a better time.  He begins his plan to woo her while she’s in New York and continues it when they return to Sugar Creek.

There are many twists and turns in Rocky and Jayce’s journey.  With true love, you have to fight hard for that someone special and that’s what this story is about.   The whole Town is behind them and the cast of characters provides comic relief as well as emotional support. It was also nice to see the continuation of Dev and Chloe’s story from book one, and Luke’s story is nicely set up for book three – Anything But Love coming out in September.

BOOK REVIEW: The Summer He Came Home by Juliana Stone

Juliana Stone

Juliana Stone

Author Juliana Stone loves the written word and 80’s rock.  She sings in an 80’s rock band where her husband plays the guitar.  So it’s no surprise that The Summer He Came Home centers around a bad boy rock ‘n roller.  This is book one in the series Bad Boys of Crystal Lake.

Ten years ago, Cain Black packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dream.  The death of one of his best friends forces him back home.  He thinks it’s going to be a quick trip to pay his respects, but his heart has other ideas.  Cain has learned the hard way that fame and fortune is not all it’s cracked up to be.  He finds out his wife (now ex) and best friend (also ex and key member of the band) were fooling around with each other behind his back and he’s also just plain tired of the rock star life style.

Maggie-Grace O’Rourke is a single mom and new to Crystal Lake.  She works as a maid and is counting on living in the shadows to hide from her terrible past.  The last thing she needs is the attention of a famous rock star.  She’s looking for some peace and a good place to raise her 7 year old son.

Cain meets Maggie on his first day back in Crystal Lake.  Neither one wants or is prepared for the attraction they feel for each other.  The author takes her time in letting their relationship grow.  It was fun to watch them get comfortable with each other and Cain’s relationship with Maggie’s son is very sweet.   There is drama, suspense, and humor mixed in with a sweet and, eventually, hot romance.

One of the best aspects of the book was the relationships between Cain and the other “bad boys”.  We are introduced to Jake, who is the twin brother of Jessie – whose funeral it is that Cain came back for.  Jessie was killed in Afghanistan – his death witnessed by Jake.  Jessie leaves behind his wife, Raine.  Jake not only has issues with his twin’s death, but also what to do about Raine.  We are also introduced to Mac, an architect who has his own demons to deal with – namely an abusive father.  The author does an excellent job of weaving these characters, and others from this small town, into the story.

This is a beautifully written story of love and friendship with very realistic and likeable characters.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming books in this series.