Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

About the Book

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe cover

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.

My Thoughts

My first experiences with Carla Laureano’s work was when I saw The Saturday Night Supper Club in passing. However, I couldn’t just pass it by. I read it and fell in love. Being a cake decorator and lover of cooking the book was right up my alley. And then came along Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe! The cover has macarons on it for goodness sake. I may have let out a tiny squeal when I saw that there was a book 2. It took me a day and a half to devour the book. All the puns intended. The flow of Ms. Laureano’s writing is just so captivating. The words make you read them faster. They beg to be read faster. There were moments of laughter, frustration, holding my breath as well as moments of tears. I loved all the talk of bread and pastry. (I wish there were recipes in the back of the kindle file!)

The characters were believeable, likeable, loveable actually! I want to have friends like Melody has Ana and Rachel. Those genuine friends who cheer you on, know you from the inside out, and love you even when you’re not at your finest or even at your worst. Melody and Justin – while I almost felt like it was too good to be true and that there needed to be a little more intense conflict within their story, I loved their romance. It was wonderfully sweet and tastefully written. I didn’t care if it maybe wasn’t what normally happens in real life, every girl hopes that to be real life; like a fairy tale. A modern day fairy tale. I’m so glad Rachel, Alex, and Ana were so involved in the 2nd book. A lot of times series novels can loose characters as they move on to subsequent books where the focus is on another character in the original book. I’m glad those 3 were an integral part of this book. It kept the story moving so much better. I found myself more interested and had an easier time getting into the book because I didn’t have to meet a ton of new characters. I kind of cringe at that part of reading new books. This book had none of that!

I would love to see these stories be made into a movie. I would buy that movie and watch it over and over. This is a great book and I would highly recommend it (and The Saturday Night Supper Club).

I received a digital copy of this book as a member of the Celebrate Lit blog team. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Carla Laureano

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.

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


To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macron baking mat, a macron 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.

No ordinary salad!

If you know me in real life, you know that I love to cook and bake and make all sorts of things! So of course, when I get the opportunity to review a cookbook I jump on it!

(Links on this post or in the side bar are affiliate links!)







Bring on Mighty Salads by food52! This book is fabulous! What an absolutely Gorgeous book. From the moment I looked at the cover my mouth was watering. A good book description found right inside the cover of the book is “Does anybody need a recipe to make a salad? Of course not. But if you want your salad to hold strong in your lunch bag or carry the day as a one-bowl dinner, dressing on lettuce is t going to cut it.” The book is full of beautiful pictures not only of the recipes, but of different types of greens, herbs, vegetables, fruits etc.

There is a detailed table of contents divided by salad type: leafy salads, Less-leafy vegetable salads, grain & bean salads, pasta & bread salads, fish & seafood salads, and meat salads. A few pages later you will find a building blocks table of contents including: Go Greens, Cooking Smarter, Just DIY it, Power Proteins, dress well, and to garnish. I love that you can find the different recipes for dressings from this page. Maybe I have a taste for an orange flavored salad. I can look on the list and find the Orange Dressing on page 74! The only thing that might make this easier to use is if the dressings were listed in alphabetical order instead of by page number.

Each recipe comes accompanied by a picture (there were a few that were missing pictures but that’s ok!), which in my opinion, tips my decision to buy or not buy a cook book. If there are lots of pictures I am much more likely to buy the book than if there are recipes without pictures.

The recipe page of the two page spreads lists the ingredients clearly in an easy to read font. Number of servings are included as well as a quick description of the salad followed by a little more info about the salad. These descriptions really make me want to try to make every salad in the book. They make me hungry just reading them! Directions for each recipe are given with easy to follow numbers by each point. There are also short reasons why you do what it’s telling you to do. I find this incredibly helpful and a great learning tool that I can use while cooking other dishes. At the bottom of the page are some genius tips (not found on every single recipe.. but on most). These vary by recipe but are very helpful for substitutions if necessary or just tips to make salads better.

There are also pages about herbs and other items like eggs etc. How to take care of them, how to prepare them, how to store them etc. so very helpful! Overall I love this book. I can’t wait to make more recipes from it. Right now my favorite is the Roasted Chickpea Salad with Za’atar found on page 78, the Bagna Cauda Egg Salad on Rye Toast found on 89 and the Lemony Green Pasta Salad on page 90. Amazing book. You won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to try some of Food52’s other books too.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.


Pictures from my kitchen will have to come later because sometimes you make something that just looks so good you can’t wait to eat it… and then you forget to take a picture!