Tag Archives: Carla Laureano

First Line Friday — Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

15 Feb

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s first line comes from a delectable novel, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano. Food and romance, what’s not to like?! And don’t you love the cover? Makes you want to dig in doesn’t it? This could be the perfect book for your sweet tooth craving this weekend!

Please leave a comment with your first line, then head over to Hoarding Books for more fabulous first lines!

 

 

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.

 

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.

Connect with Carla online at her website (http://www.carlalaureano.com) or on any of these social media platforms:

Facebook.com/CarlaLaureanoAuthor
Twitter.com/carlalaureano
Instagram.com/carlalaureanoauthor
Pinterest.com/laureano_carla

 

 

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Book Review (+Giveaway!): Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

12 Feb

About the Book

Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Author: Carla Laureano

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

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.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author

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.

Guest Post from Carla

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

 

My Impressions:

There is so much to love about Brunch at The Bittersweet Cafe, the second book in Carla Laureano’s Supper Club series. Engaging characters you wish were really real (and your friends 😉 ), a vibrant culinary setting, a realistic romance, and faith issues that resonate deep within the heart — those and more are what you will find. This novel is very highly recommended!

Melody and Justin meet by chance when Justin’s car is stuck on Denver’s snowy streets. The unexpected encounter sets the two reluctantly on a course of love which one tries his best to avoid and the other views as just another opportunity for a broken heart. Trust issues, aside, the two main characters have a hard time viewing relationships without the perceptions and expectations formed from their pasts. Fears of commitment and abandonment run deep. They embark on a temporary dating journey that leaves them unsatisfied and longing for more. But these two — oh, how I loved Melody and Justin! Sensitive and adventurous, charming and caring, these two make the perfect couple — except for all the angst their author subjects them to. LOL! Seriously, Laureano’s plot is just right, and the romance simmers like a hearty soup. Did you get the food reference? Yes, this book is filled with baking and eating and baking some more. Its pages sent me to foodie pages looking for recipes that this amateur could perhaps master. Can you gain weight by vicariously consuming pastries and bread? Thankfully no! A subtle faith thread was woven throughout until it came to full fruition in revelations for both Melody and Justin. Their discovery of true faith was beautifully detailed.

While Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is the second in the Supper Club series, it can be read as a standalone. But I suggest you get both — you are in for a yummy reading experience!

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Tydale and Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Blog Stops

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

Genesis 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

Giveaway

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. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Top 10 Tuesday — 2018 New-To-Me Authors

15 Jan

I read a number of new-to-me and debut authors in 2018. Great books all! And a promise of more great books to come! Because I am an eclectic reader, you will find romance, women’s fiction, dual-time stories, mystery, and suspense in the mix — something for just about everyone. I hope you find a new-to-you author to enjoy.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl for other bloggers’ new-to-them authors.

Top New-To-Me Authors

 

Lynn Blackburn — Beneath The Surface

 

Lindsey Brackett — Still Waters

 

Lisa Carter — A Vast and Gracious Tide

 

Lauren K. Denton — Hurricane Season

 

Lindsay Harrel — The Heart Between Us

 

Carla Laureano — The Saturday Night Supper Club

 

Valerie Fraser Luesse — Missing Isaac

 

Lisa McKay — My Hands Came Away Red

 

Sarah Monzon — Freedom’s Kiss

 

Jaime Jo Wright — The House on Foster Hill

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Can’t Wait for What’s Next!

8 Jan

I am a sucker for a series! And when I get into one, I am very impatient to know what happens next. Unfortunately, most authors actually take their time in writing good books, making my waiting time especially long. 😉 Coming Soon is never soon enough. This year there are a number of next books due out, hence my Top 10 List: Anticipated Reads of 2019 (the first half). It’s just a matter of a few days or weeks.  I. Cannot. Wait!

Find out what other bloggers are impatiently awaiting at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Anticipated Next Books

January

Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble

February

The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

March 

Darkwater Lies by Robin Caroll

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

April

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

 

What books are you waiting on?

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2018

1 Jan

I am bowled over by the number of excellent books I read in 2018! It was very, very, very hard to come up with a list of the best, let alone trying to limit it to just 10! So I cheated (of course) and made two Top 10 Lists — one contemporary and one historical. And before you say but, but . . . I know that three of the books on the historical list are dual timelines, but without the historical component, the book would not have existed. There is also plenty of suspense and romance — really something for everyone on this list. Those with an asterisk were book club books that got unanimous thumbs up! I hope you find one or two (or all) that will pique your interest.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ best of the best lists.

 

Top 10 Contemporary Novels of 2018

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

*The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Top 10 Historical Novels of 2018

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

*The House of Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

*Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

 

What book was your favorite in 2018?

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

18 Dec

The weather outside has been frightful so far this winter — rainy and cold — so it’s a good thing I have a lot of good books on my Winter TBR List! What about you? What are you planning on reading during the long, dark days of winter? Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for lots of great suggestions.

 

Top 10 Books on My Winter TBR List!

 

Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Brunch at The Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

Code of Valor by Lynette Eason

 

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Emergency Case by Richard Mabry, M.D.

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

The Liberty Bride by Marylu Tyndall

 

Searching for You by Jody Hedlund

Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartles

 

What are you reading this winter?

Top 10 Tuesday — The Back to School Edition

28 Aug

It has been some years since I have had to worry about all things back to school — supply lists, endless forms to sign, open houses, etc. My youngest son is in his final year of law school, but he resists first day pictures. 😉 So all I have is a list of books that loosely align with course titles. And while they probably won’t appear on any syllabus, they are definitely required reading! So whether your nest is empty or you still find yourself in the interminable car riders line, here are some books I recommend you check out. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out all the bloggers’ back to school lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Back to School Reading

 

American History (early years)

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

 

Biology/Chemistry (making science sizzling)

The Summer of The Burning Sky trilogy by Susan May Warren

 

English Composition (writers gotta write)

Ghost Writer by Rene Gutteridge

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

 

French (history other than the French Revolution)

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser

Home Economics (yes I know it isn’t called that anymore)

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

 

Western Civilization (because knights and castles)

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund