What are some of the special ingredients in BATTER UP?
- A small, lakeside town in Upstate New York filled with fun and fabulous characters
- A bakery that dishes up a little extra to the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls every Monday night
- A third-generation baker witch who creates a magical batter for those bachelors with every stir
- A third-generation baker who can match everyone else up successfully, but lacks a certain someone in her own live
- A cynical and disillusioned Florida journalist who's seeking to get the scoop on Buttermilk falls and reveal the fraudulent actions of that magical baker
- A few BFFs to add a bit of spice along with a not-so-nice Buttermilk female on the make
Robyn Neeley stirs all of these ingredients together and comes up with a magical book that I could not put down. A story that easily switches from laugh-out-loud hilarity to moving with some Kleenex-ready moments.
Spend a bit of your summer in Buttermilk Falls with Batter Up and you'll want to return again - real soon!
Read my review
READ AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM
COURTESY OF ESCAPE PUBLISHING
Emma slid into her car and reached in her visor for her black sunglasses. Another Monday. Luckily, her shift didn’t start until noon. It was Abby’s turn to open the bakeshop, a nice opportunity for Emma to do some work around the house. Even though the calendar said July 22, she still hadn’t pulled out all of her summer clothes from the closet. Feeling accomplished, she headed to work.
Pulling out, she glanced over at the cottage next door and shook her head. Caitlin’s black BMW sat in the driveway. It had been there all weekend. Still no sign of the mystery bachelor her arch rival had managed to snag. God knows what they were doing inside.
She hoped he wasn’t any of the guys who would stop by tonight. The last thing she wanted was to see Caitlin’s name swirling in her batter.
Not that she had much control over the matter. The enchanted mixture seemed to have a mind of its own. It had been two months since the mysterious letter J incident. It hadn’t made sense that night and it still didn’t. Emma chalked it up to Abby being a beginner.
She drove down the gravel path to the main road that took her to the heart of town. Five minutes later she pulled into the Sugar Spoon. It was another gorgeous summer day with highs in the mid-80s. Not a cloud in the sky.
Their customers were enjoying the new patio furniture she and Abby had purchased last month. She waved to Mr and Mrs Davis, an elderly couple who always stopped by the bakery for a sweet treat after lunch at the Star Lite. They’d been married for over 50 years, and Emma was pretty sure Mr Davis had been one of her grandmother’s first bachelors to benefit from Batter Up back in the day.
She parked in the back next to Abby’s blue Honda Civic and entered through the bakery’s rear door.
Abby came barreling over, her eyes wide.
‘Emma! Finally! I’ve been waiting for you to get here.’
‘Someone’s excited.’ She cocked an eyebrow. ‘What’s up?’
‘Wait till you get a load of the guy sitting at the counter.’ Abby reached into her apron pocket, pulled out a tube of lip gloss, and rolled it over her lips.
‘This incredibly drop-dead-gorgeous man.’ She grabbed a spoon, checked her reflection, and ran a finger over the gloss. ‘Like amazingly hot.’
Emma laughed. ‘Oh my. A sexy guy in our bakery? Whatever should we do? Call the police?’
‘I know what I’d like to do and it definitely could involve handcuffs.’ Abby leaned back on the sink, fanning her face.
‘Seriously, Abs, you’re acting like you’ve never seen a cute guy before.’ Emma turned her back to her cousin and began inspecting her weekly inventory.
‘Not one like this. He’s definitely not from around here.’ She pushed off the sink. ‘Wait till you get a load of him. His blue eyes…wow!’
Blue eyes. Emma froze. ‘How blue?’
Abby smirked. ‘As blue as Buttermilk Lake.’
Emma spun around and crossed the kitchen, pushing the door open just a crack. The pit in her stomach grew larger by the second. Sure enough, the rude stranger from the Star Lite was sitting at her counter. This time he had on a navy blue polo that showed off his muscular tanned arms. ‘Just great,’ she said flatly.
‘What, you know him?’ Abby crossed her arms. ‘I still call dibs.’
Emma scoffed. ‘You can have him. He’s an ass.’ She moved back inside the kitchen and reached for her pink gingham apron hanging on a hook. Tying the pink belt behind her back, her heart beat loudly against the fabric. ‘How long has he been here?’
‘About 20 minutes.’
‘Has he ordered?’
‘Only a chocolate chip muffin and coffee. Said he’s saving room for a cupcake.’
‘He is, is he?’ Emma’s eyes narrowed. Time to find out what the annoying stranger wanted. If her suspicions were right, it wasn’t good. She squared her shoulders and exited the kitchen, walking over to Mr Jerk. He was bent down typing away on his laptop. Did he take that stupid thing everywhere he went?
‘What can I get you, sir?’
He looked up and she could tell he instantly recognized her from the Star Lite. ‘We meet again.’ He tossed her a crooked grin.
She caught it and heaved it back with a fake smile of her own. ‘So we do.’
‘It’s okay if I sit here?’ He motioned to his barstool. ‘It’s not reserved, is it?’
Agitation crept up the back of her neck. ‘Only for paying customers who aren’t incessantly rude.’ She looked around the bakery. ‘But since you’re the only one in here, what can I get you?’
‘Are you Emma Stevens?’
‘Yes.’ How did he know her name? Did Abby tell him?
‘It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jason.’ He extended his hand.
The moment she took it an electric shock went straight through her. She instantly pulled her hand away, tucking it inside her apron pocket. She rubbed her fingers against the lining, trying to get the remnants of his touch off of her. Her fingers still tingled. ‘Are you interested in something from the bakery?’
‘I thought I’d get a cupcake.’ He grinned and leaned forward, propping his elbow up and cupping his chin with his hand. He whispered, ‘You know. A magical one.’
Emma took a step back. Who the hell was this guy and what was he up to? He obviously was referring to the batter but had no idea what he was talking about. Why was he snooping? She glanced down at his laptop.
She needed to play it cool. It wasn’t the first time nosy outsiders had tried to get the story on the bakeshop’s Monday night activity. She knew exactly what to do. ‘You’ve come to the right place, Mr…?’
‘Mr Levine. Are you from around here?’
‘No, just here for a week.’
‘I see. Well, it’ll take a few minutes.’
‘I’ve got all the time in the world.’
I bet you do. She sauntered into the kitchen. Out of sight, she dashed into her office.
‘What’s going on?’ Abby set two cupcake tins in the oven and closed the door.
‘I’m about to find out.’ Emma turned on her computer and sat down. Within seconds, she typed in ‘Jason Levine’. A slew of links appeared from the Miami Herald. She clicked on the top one and blew out a breath. ‘I knew it! He’s a flippin’ reporter. Why that little weasel.’
Abby looked over her shoulder as they both stared at the handsome headshot of the man currently sitting at the Sugar Spoon counter. ‘Figures. Look at that photo. He’s damn sexy.’ She sighed and flopped down on Emma’s comfy beige sofa. ‘There’s no way he’s single.’
Emma sprang up and headed to the kitchen.
Abby followed. ‘What are you doing?’
Grabbing a mixing bowl and ingredients, Emma set them down and got to work. ‘Our arrogant and nosy reporter wants a magical cupcake. Let’s give him one.’ She began sifting flour into the bowl. ‘Abby, go talk to him. Find out what you can. Talk loud so I can hear everything he says.’
‘Yes, ma’am!’ Abby saluted and left the kitchen. Seconds later, she began completing Emma’s order. ‘So handsome stranger, what brings you to Buttermilk Falls?’ She raised her voice so Emma could hear.
Emma stirred the mixture, both ears concentrating on the conversation between Abby and Jason. He didn’t say much, only that he was in town visiting friends, was enjoying Buttermilk Falls, and had heard about Emma’s specialty. He had a sweet tooth and couldn’t wait to try one.
‘So, are you single?’ Abby asked.
Emma’s ears perked up, but she didn’t hear Jason’s response. Even if he said he was, it was probably a lie to get his story.
She couldn’t believe a reporter from the Miami Herald was in her bakeshop. Sure, other reporters had tried to get the scoop on her matchmaking skills, but no one from such a large newspaper. The fact that this guy asked for a magical cupcake was bad, very bad. He knew something. She needed to get him out of her bakery — luckily she had added just the right ingredient to do exactly that.
Smiling down at the mixture, she sauntered out of the kitchen with the mixing bowl and wooden spoon in hand. It wasn’t her grandmother’s spoon. She wouldn’t need it for this batch. ‘Mr Levine, who told you about my special cupcakes?’ She continued to mix the batter. ‘I’d like to thank them.’
‘Tom and Bridget Reed.’
Emma wrinkled her nose. That certainly wasn’t the answer she expected. ‘How do you know Tom and Bridget?’
Jason chuckled. ‘I was at their wedding.’
‘Really? In Las Vegas?’ She highly doubted her high school friends knew this pompous ass let alone socialized with him. At least she hoped not.
‘Yep.’ He reached down and grabbed his phone from the counter. Touching his screen, he held it up so Emma could see. ‘Check it out.’
Sure enough, there was Bridget centered between Jason and some guy she didn’t recognize.
Next to Jason was Caitlin Reynolds, with her bony arms draped around him and Tom.
A wave of nausea threatened to knock her over. Oh God. Was this the stranger who Caitlin was currently shacking up with? Her mom had said he was handsome, and there was no denying Jason Levine was indeed attractive. She’d even seen dimples in his smile. Play it cool, Emma. Play it cool.
She spooned up a huge dollop of batter. ‘So, Jason, are you ready?’ she asked in a suggestive voice.
‘Sure.’ He closed his laptop. His eyes danced with amusement.
‘Here’s what I need you to do. Close your eyes.’
He obediently shut them. Emma couldn’t help but take this opportunity to stare at his handsome face. Her eyes lingered on his full lips. Stop it, Emma. He’s the enemy.
‘Everything okay?’ Jason opened one eye.
‘Shut them.’ She reached for his hand and inserted the spoon. ‘Repeat after me. Batter I’m about to taste. Show me my true love, and make haste.’
Abby giggled. Emma put her finger to her lips, motioning her cousin to be quiet.
Jason repeated the chant, eyes still closed. ‘Now what?’
‘You eat the spoonful. You have to do it in one large swallow, got it?’
‘Okay, easy enough.’ He shoved the spoon into his mouth. Within seconds his eyes flew open and he reached for his throat, gasping for air. ‘Water,’ he choked out.
Abby rushed over with a water pitcher and glass. He drank the full glass and demanded another. His eyes were red and watery. Little droplets of sweat began to form on his forehead.
Emma smiled and picked up the mixing bowl, hugging it tight to her chest. ‘I think you should leave now. This stool is no longer available.’
Jason stood and shook his head. ‘You got me good, Ms Stevens.’ He grabbed his laptop and started for the door, still coughing.
Abby rushed over and handed him a bottle of water. ‘For the road.’
Turning back to Emma, she grinned. Something was forming in her cousin’s pretty little head. ‘So, Jason, does anyone call you J?’
‘What?’ Jason turned around. He twisted the bottle cap and took a large swallow.
‘You know. Just by your initial?’ She handed him a napkin.
‘My mom did.’ He took another drink and wiped the sweat from his forehead.
‘I see.’ Abby shot Emma a smug expression.
Emma walked over and crossed her arms, her voice firm and in control. ‘Get out of my bakery, Mr Levine. There’s no story here.’
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
To enter the giveaway, in the comments below, share your favorite cupcake (the recipe too if you can :) ) then fill out the entry form.
The giveaway is open until next Tasty Tuesday when the winner will be drawn.
ABOUT BATTER UP
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
She mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste...
Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.
When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumour: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously sceptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.
But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?
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