Rating of five cupcakes for Beth Ciotta’s Anything But Love and Some Kind of Wonderful, two contemporary romance must reads.

imageA very good friend, whom I trust implicitly when it comes to book recommendations, told me I had to read Beth Ciotta’s Cupcake Lovers novels as I’d fall in love with her writing and the town of Sugar Creek, Vermont. Well, when I heard that, I quickly started to devour the novels – and just like cupcakes, they’re delicious, addictive, and absolutely perfect. I became hooked, so in this review, I’ll focus on book three, Anything But Love (pub date: 1 Oct 2013) and the holiday novella, book three point five, Some Kind of Wonderful (pub date: 22 Oct 2013).

First of all, may I say if you haven’t already, please, please get start reading the series as this is a fun, romantic, sexy, touching, and all together pleasurable romp. Ciotta is a master at making you laugh while you read, while at the same time you absolutely need to make sure that the Kleenex box is close at hand as tears sometimes fall.

Book three, Anything But Love, opens with major player and pub owner Luke Monroe trying to find out where his one-time waitress and the town’s favorite pre-school aide Rachel Lacey disappeared to. His cousin Sam McCloud, who had been trying to woo Rachel for months, discovered Luke and Rae in a very hot tryst and panicked Rae just disappeared. Unlike Luke he worried, he fretted, and he didn’t date. Finally, just before Christmas, his soon-to-be brother-in-law Jayce tracked Rachel down, but Rachel’s actually Hollywood heiress Reagan Deveraux. And if Luke is to find any piece of mind and stop gorging on cupcakes, he needs to see her in person.

After tracking her down and finding out that perhaps her Hollywood life isn’t quite as perfect as it might seem they find themselves in a very steamy encounter. But life goes on and Luke returns to Sugar Creek, with Rae unsure what to do. Can a player like Luke, who usually has three women on a string ever find himself happy with just one? Can Rae trust Luke and her heart? And what about that other small complication?

Ciotta’s gift of humor and sensitivity to her characters inner life is evident throughout the book. One of the reasons I’d advise reading these not as stand alones (although you could) is she interweaves characters from each of her books in these and it’s like coming in mid-movie, you really do want to know what’s been going on. She usually also has a few romantic subplots available and the one, with Luke’s cousin Sam McCloud and Hollywood pr specialist Harper Day, in Anything But Love is fascinating. This is a five cupcake book and you can bake them yourself with the recipes at the end submitted by devoted readers.

imageSome Kind of Wonderful is a beautiful holiday novella. With the aim of the Cupcake Lovers club to support serviceman, it’s only fitting that this story focuses on former Marine Scout Sniper Zachary Cole and Orlando-based cupcake baker Maya Templeton. Best friends from their Sugar Creek childhood, Maya’s taken a Cyrano role in Zachary’s love life after her business partner and very sexy friend, Giselle, took one look at his photo and fell into lust. While Giselle’s photos definitely sparked Zach’s interest; his very hot letters were reciprocated by his platonic best friend Maya, not Giselle. But May is the one who now stands on the outside looking in as Giselle and Zach meet at a Cupcake Lovers Christmas party in Sugar Creek.

But all is not lost as best friends sometimes, with a little Christmas magic, might evolve into something more. In fact, Ciotta channels a little Charles Dicken’s with some holiday visitors to Zach to smooth the way. The way in which Ciotta lets us see who Zach and Maya are, what their fears are, and what their hopes and dreams are is beautiful. That she sprinkles a little holiday magic along the way – just perfect. Again, five cupcakes, perhaps decorated with some candy canes.

Cupcake Lovers is a series that combines an innocence of heart with some very steamy romance – as well as a zany crew of characters that you will fall in love with. I’ve already marked my calendar for the 1 July 2014 release date of In the Mood for Love where we will find out what happens with Harper Day and Sam McCloud, who will now have the leading roles in the series.

From the Publisher

Cupcake Lovers series book 3
Anything But Love by Beth Ciotta
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 9781250001344
Price $7.99

For Reagan Deveraux, Sugar Creek, Vermont, and the Cupcake Lovers are a dream come true: A cozy little town where family and friends come before everything else. She’s never experienced anything like it—especially not growing up with her mother, a fickle, fame-hungry heiress. But Rae’s plan to hide out in anonymity for a year until she can claim her inheritance—and her independence—changes with one kiss from gorgeous pub owner Luke Monroe.

Luke’s charm is legendary, but he’s never been a one-woman man. Until Rae captures his attention, that is, and then disappears. With a little help from a friend, Luke tracks her down—and unearths secrets almost too wild to be true, as well as the fact that Rae lied to him, and to all of Sugar Creek. Luke’s not sure if he can forgive her, but he definitely can’t forget her, and when she returns to save the Cupcake Lovers from disaster, he knows it’s his chance to get the truth—and get the girl, this time for good…

Anything But Love is the third Cupcake Lovers novel from Beth Ciotta.

Cupcake Lovers series book 3.5
Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta
A Holiday Novella
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 9781466847101
Price $1.99

Have yourself a scrumptious, small-town Christmas with this special Cupcake Lovers holiday novella, Some Kind of Wonderful!

Growing up in Sugar Creek, Maya Templeton and Zachary Cole were best friends. After high school, each went out into the world in search of adventure. Maya moved to Florida to explore her passion for baking and pastry-making, eventually establishing her own business: Cupcakes & Dreamscapes. Zach joined the military and became a Marine Scout Sniper. Now, after years apart, they’re both going home for the holidays. They don’t seem to have much in common anymore. In fact, Zach seems to have the hots for Maya’s business partner. But when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine their connection. Are Maya and Zach better off “just friends”—just as they were when they were young? Or could it be that true love was there all along?

Praise for Beth Ciotta’s Cupcake Lovers series:
“An absolute treat.”—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author
“Ciotta is a master of the fun-to-read romance, and this [series] is no exception.”—RT BOOKreviews
“Will keep readers waiting eagerly for [more].” —Publishers Weekly

About the Author
Beth Ciotta is an award-winning author who specializes in romantic comedy with a twist. Her work includes contemporary, historical, and paranormal romantic fiction. “I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!” Beth lives in New Jersey with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing.

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