I’m so behind on reviews and even though I enjoyed reading these contemporary romance titles, I don’t think I can write a full review for each. So I thought it would be a good idea to bundle mini reviews together in one post. I read all of these pretty quickly, just a few days for each. I’m reading more and more contemporary romance novels and novellas lately because they’re so easy to get into. Plus, I’m also seeing more recommendations that fall under this genre in the blogs that I follow. I wanted to talk about these titles in case other readers are curious about them.
Turning Up the Heat by Laura Florand
After reading The Chocolate Thief, the first book in the Amour et Chocolat series, Laura Florand earned a place in my auto-buy author list. She was generous enough to send me the ebook for the novella Turning Up the Heat. This installment is different from the rest of her books because it’s part of another series set in Provence called La Vie en Roses. The Chocolate Rose ties both the Amour et Chocolat and La Vie en Roses series together. Having said that, Turning Up the Heat is still very much about food, a theme that is consistent in all of Laura Florand’s books. Daniel is a celebrity chef, one who manages a famous restaurant and has numerous TV engagements, while his wife Lea is his supportive manager. They fell in love as teenagers and got married soon after, the story is set after they’ve been married for more than ten years. I liked that this novella went in a different direction than usual – instead of giving us a couple about to start a relationship, Laura shows us how difficult marriage can get even though the love is obviously still there. Every marriage has its own problems and when husband and wife both lead busy lives, lack of communication is definitely an issue. After everything they’ve been through together, I was rooting for Daniel and Lea to figure things out so they can have a happy ending.
Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman
I got the recommendation for the Cupcake Club series from Laura Florand. I wanted to try out more contemporary romance that centered around food, especially desserts because I’m a huge fan of sweet things. In Sugar Rush, Lani leaves behind a successful career as a pastry chef and starts her own cupcakery in a small town. I love that Lani was brave enough to leave New York to start her own business and that she feels it’s the right move for her even though others believe it’s a step down. Yay Lani for going after what she wants! I felt like the first half of the novel was a little slow and I was just waiting for things to happen. The pace picked up in the second half and just like the cupcakes that Lani bakes, I found the romance sweet. Baxter is a delightful and charming guy, it was fun to see him and Lani getting to know each other beyond their previous professional relationship. The small town setting of Sugarberry Island had its own charm as well and it was cute how the secondary characters were also important in the story. I’m planning to check out the rest of the books in the series.
A quote near the start of the novel that I loved: “She breathed in the mingled scents of dark chocolate and sweet berries. It was inspiring, really, how much power a single, sweet cup of baked deliciousness could wield. Cupcake salvation.”
Cupcake salvation, indeed! But while Lani finds salvation in baking cupcakes, I find it therapeutic to eat them.
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
I first found out about Samantha Young when Angie started bibliovangelizing Down London Road. It definitely made me curious so I thought I’d give On Dublin Street a try first. The two books are companion novels but they stand well enough on their own and there’s no need to read them in order. I enjoyed reading On Dublin Street because of the characters – both Joss and Braden have a lot of issues that get in the way of having a relationship. Joss has never even had a serious relationship and she’d rather keep things casual between her and Braden. She’s a reserved type of person and doesn’t want to let anyone too close because of her past experiences. It was fun seeing Braden try to break the walls that Joss built around herself. Even though the romance was a huge part of the story, there’s more to On Dublin Street than Joss and Braden’s relationship – it was also about Joss opening up to other people and fighting her demons. I find that the characters are more developed, more nuanced, when different aspects of their lives are shown instead of just their interactions with one person. I’ve read Down London Road right after finishing this one and while I liked that one more than this, I would still recommend On Dublin Street to romance fans.
Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox
After finishing Big Boy by Ruthie Knox, I knew I would have fun going through her back list. Ride With Me sounded intriguing because I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that focuses on cycling. I have a confession to make: I don’t know how to ride a bike. No one taught me when I was younger and I didn’t feel the need to try it out when I got older. In spite of that, I found the details of going on a cycling tour interesting. It’s an intense kind of activity and it’s always fun to read about characters who are passionate about what they do. I really liked the tension in this one – the characters rubbed each other the wrong way since the moment they meet but there’s an undeniable attraction between them. They’re total opposites as well: Lexie is uptight about cycling and has taken years to map out her planned tour while Tom is laid back and does what he feels like doing. Lexie is also friendly, outgoing and talkative while Tom isn’t. It was fun to read about their cycling adventures and see how they both react to how they feel about each other.
All of these titles are fun contemporary reads that are quick reads. Whenever I feel like I’m about to have a reading slump or I can’t decide what to read next, I go for romance because it’s fun and I’m a sap when it comes to romantic reads. Let me know what you think if you’ve read any of these or if you have recommendations similar to these books.