Most families have a favorite recipe or two, handed down through generations. The Holloway women are a little different. Emma Holloway, like her grandmother before her, bakes wishes into her delicious cupcakes, granting the recipient comfort, sweet dreams, or any number of good things. It’s a strange gift, but it brings only happiness. Until gorgeous, smooth-talking newcomer Hunter Kane strolls into her shop, Fairy Cakes—and Emma makes the mistake of selling him not one, but three Sweet Success cupcakes.
Hunter, it turns out, is opening a fancy new restaurant and bakery right on the waterfront—Emma’s competition. To make matters worse, the town committee has decided to split the upcoming summer festival contract between the two, forcing Emma to work with her nemesis. But she can’t afford to split her profits. The solution: create a recipe that will make Hunter leave town permanently.
The Holloway charms are powerful. But there are other kinds of magic in the world—like red-hot first kisses, secret glances, and the feeling that comes with falling truly, madly, inconveniently in love . . .
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The storm on Pine Cove Island was about to make history. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the sky darkened to a charcoal gray. Clouds loomed over the sleepy island town, casting shadows against the rocky shore. For Emma Holloway, this just wasn't acceptable.
She stood in her kitchen, eyeing a mixing bowl with the single-minded focus of an ER surgeon as she whipped lemon frosting into soft peaks.
A loud clap of thunder made her jump, and she quickly scooped out a dollop of frosting and tasted it. The sharp, clean zest of lemon burst on her tongue, but it needed more vanilla to balance it out. She checked the ancient cookbook. "Close. But not quite there yet."
Lightning flashed, making the old two-story Victorian house creak. A door slammed upstairs.
"I know, I know," she called out. "I'm working as fast as I can."
Another door slammed and Emma sighed. The house was chastising her. In the seven generations her family had lived on Pine Cove Island, the house had been a part of their lives, and just like the quirky, unusual Holloways, the house had a mind of its own. It wasn't always feisty. Most of the time, it was as warm and inviting as a cozy sweater. Doors would open for her when her arms were laden with grocery bags, and if there was a cold snap, the heater would go up a notch to chase away the winter chill.
No one in the family knew exactly how the house had become enchanted; they just accepted it as part of the Holloway family gifts. Emma shook her head and added a splash of vanilla to the frosting. Gifts. That's how her grandmother had lovingly explained it, but Emma could think of a few other names for the Holloway family abilities. If her mother hadn't had the "gift" of wanderlust, maybe she'd have stuck around to watch Emma grow up. Maybe Emma wouldn't be so alone, now that her grandmother was gone. She swallowed the lump in her throat and mixed faster.
Thunder struck again, and this time a hard, steady rain began pelting the windows. She spun the whisk one last time and quickly spread the frosting over the vanilla cupcakes on the counter. They smelled divine, like a warm summer day. Perfect.
She placed the tray of frosted cakes on the counter near the window. Heavy sheets of rain cast a dreamy quality to the gardens that lined the path to the old house. It was a typical Pacific Northwest spring morning, and any other time Emma would have already been working in her bakery down by the waterfront, but today, she couldn't leave the house defenseless.
"Okay, house. I think this will do it." She raised a cupcake to her lips and took a bite. Delicious. It was like sugared sunshine, and she smiled as the rain began to ease. Her body thrummed with warmth and she licked frosting from her fingertips, waiting.
The stairs creaked and the old house seemed to sigh. Emma sighed, too. With three holes in the attic roof, the last thing she needed was a torrential downpour. She had climbed up to the attic last week to try patching the leaks herself, but her magic skills in the bakery did not translate over to carpentry. What she really needed was decent weather until she could afford to hire a roofing contractor. With property taxes coming due soon, it was all she could do to come up with the money for either.
Emma watched out the kitchen window as the rain slowed to a steady drizzle, eventually settling into a soft mist. A few moments later, sunlight burst through the fog, and the clouds were swept away on a sudden breeze. The sky returned to a bright, clear blue and the trees swayed softly, their leaves sparkling with raindrops. Somewhere outside, a bird began to sing and Emma slapped powdered sugar off her hands. Done and done.
"There you have it," she told the old house. "We live another day."
The house settled in what sounded to Emma like a hmph. She knew her kitchen charm wouldn't last forever. A few days, at most. Mother Nature always had her way in the end, and it was never a good idea to use magic to mess with the weather. The next time the storm came around, it would be even worse. But she'd have to worry about that consequence later. At least now, she had bought some time to figure out how to get her roof patched.
Emma crossed her arms, hugging herself. By many standards the old house was falling apart, but she refused to think of it that way. Aside from her quirky cousin, the Holloway house was the only family she had left. Somehow, some way, she was going to protect and keep it.
* * *
Fairy Cakes was located near the wharf on Pine Cove Island's waterfront. Emma skirted a puddle on the sidewalk, balancing the box of lemon cupcakes as she nudged open the turquoise door to her shop. It was quiet inside, but that was to be expected for early spring. By summer it would be bustling with tourists from Seattle and British Columbia.
As always, the shop smelled heavenly. Today it smelled like toasted marshmallow buttercream frosting, and — yes! — freshly brewed coffee. "I brought a new batch," Emma called.
"Good, because you're going to need the extras." Her cousin Juliette stood up from behind the pastry case, licking frosting off her finger. "I've already eaten like, three of them. Seriously, if I worked here every day, I wouldn't be able to fit through that door."
Emma rolled her eyes. Juliette was one year older than her, and at twenty-six, her cousin was utterly, stupendously gorgeous. She was curvy in all the right places, and had that milky, porcelain complexion Emma had always envied growing up. "Jules, you look like you just floated off the pages of a Victoria's Secret ad. The only thing missing is a pair of wings. You have nothing to worry about."
Her cousin grinned. "See, that's why I love you so much. You're so very smart." She gave Emma's shoulder an affectionate nudge and took the box of cupcakes, inhaling. "Mmm, lemony. What are they called?"
Emma took out a scalloped tray, placing it on the counter. "They're called 'Summer Sunshine.'"
"Ha! I knew it. I so knew this weather was your doing. I mean, this morning there was a storm rolling in, and the forecast for the week was rain, rain, and more rain. And now we've got blue skies and even a rainbow. What gives?"
Emma leaned against the sink and balled a dishrag in her hands. "There's another hole in the roof."
Juliette nodded solemnly. "A fine reason to do a little sweet charming, then. How's the house?"
"Grumpy." Emma grabbed a flouncy black-and-white apron, cinching it around her waist.
A gift from Juliette, the apron had rows of frothy lace and looked a bit too much like a French maid costume for Emma's taste. But with business so slow, she didn't have to worry about appearances. The only customers coming through the door were the town regulars, anyway. Everyone on Pine Cove Island knew one another. It was both a blessing and a curse. "I have to get someone to fix the roof, but I can't seem to find anyone who wants to work for cupcakes."
Juliette swung a colorful bag over her shoulder. "I work for cupcakes."
It was true. Her cousin practically did. Emma could barely afford to pay her for the few hours she took over the shop each week. Juliette was busy enough working at Romeo's florist shop, and selling her handmade bath products to local vendors. She didn't really need the extra work. It made Emma all the more grateful. "Seriously, Jules, I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Well, since we're the last two Holloways left, you'll never have to find out. You're stuck with me." She planted a kiss on Emma's cheek. "Hey, I'm going out dancing tonight with the girls from Dazzle. You should come."
Emma thought of their two friends who worked at the local hair salon. They were always ready to paint the town red. Or a glittery shade of hot pink. "No, I don't have the energy for that right now."
"Come on, Em, it's Friday. You've been stuck here too much and you need a break. You should come out." Juliette shimmied her hips and smiled mischievously. "Shake things up for a change."
"I don't want to shake things up. I don't need change." What she needed was a truckload of money, dumped directly into her dwindling bank account.
Juliette groaned, grabbing Emma by the shoulders and shaking her dramatically. "Everyone needs change! It's good for the soul."
"My soul is fine. It just needs to finish baking. Now get out of here." Emma laughed in spite of herself.
"All right, I'm off. Everyone in my garden will be in fine form today with all this sunshine. I can't miss it."
Emma waved good-bye and began stacking the cupcakes. By "everyone," she knew Juliette meant her garden plants. That was her cousin's gift. She could make roses grow in the middle of winter, and her garden was always brilliant, with a profusion of flowers that had even the best green thumbs shaking their heads in awe.
The dragonfly wind chimes tinkled over the front door as Emma placed the last cupcake on the tray. She glanced up, then froze.
A man stood just over the threshold, surveying her tiny shop. He didn't see her at first, so she had several heartbeats to recover. He was striking: tall and broad shouldered, with sun-bronzed skin and dark hair. He wore a navy sweater over dark denim jeans, but despite the simplicity of his clothing, Emma could tell they were expensive. Cashmere maybe, and designer denim. Not the kind of relaxed, slightly outdated attire that most of the locals wore. A tourist, then. Figured. Someone like him didn't belong in her world.
He turned, his leaf green eyes sweeping over her. A dark brow rose for just a moment.
Emma suddenly remembered her French maid apron. Crap. Her cheeks grew hot and she cleared her throat, giving him a perfunctory nod. "Good morning." Totally professional. All business. She set the tray of cupcakes on a display stand.
He approached the pastry case slowly. "Those look amazing."
His voice was deep and smooth, reminding her of dark chocolate mixed with honey. Sweet, but with a subtle bite that made a person want to savor it on the tongue, so it would last longer. She shivered. What the heck? Get your head in the game, Holloway. Pretty boys like him were not a good idea. She had about a million past experiences to prove it.
He gestured to the cupcakes in the case. "What do you recommend?"
Ahh. Emma studied him for a moment. This was her favorite part of her talent — learning a little about what people needed. "Well, what do you usually like?"
He shrugged and gave her a crooked grin that sent a tiny ripple of warmth over her skin. "I like anything sweet, so I'm a pretty easy target in a place like this."
Emma felt her knees go weak. This guy was some serious kryptonite. Focus, Holloway. "Well, what brings you to the island?"
"How do you know I don't live here?"
It was laughable, really. As if he thought for one second that he blended in. She had lived on Pine Cove Island almost her entire life, and a man like this could never be a native. He looked like some business tycoon on holiday, or a marauding pirate from one of her romance novels. Someone who'd breeze in on a whim and then move on to his summer home in Spain or his high-rise penthouse in New York.
"Trust me, I'm good at reading people," she said. "Are you here on business or pleasure?"
"Business, as a matter of fact."
Emma noted the slight shadows under his eyes, and the way he stretched his neck as though to work out some stiffness there. For a moment he stared down at the pastry case as if he were a million miles away.
He seemed to catch himself, then glanced up. "Big day today. Lots of negotiations to handle." His smile was suddenly so warm and genuine that Emma felt as if sunlight bloomed inside her chest. On impulse, she made a decision. "Success is what you need, then."
"Sure," he laughed. "That would be great."
She lifted a pair of silver tongs and pulled out a chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting. "This one is called 'Sweet Success.' It will grant you luck in what you want most." She smiled brilliantly, wishing him all the luck in the world on his next marauding adventure.
Wide green eyes studied her for a moment. There was laughter in his gaze, but his expression remained all seriousness. "In that case, I'll take three."
Emma watched the dark stranger leave her shop, his profile strong in the morning sunshine. Jeez, if ever there was a man who could embody all her secret fantasies, it was that guy. She dragged her gaze away as he walked down the street toward the waterfront. So long, pirate king.
"Well then," a chirpy voice called from the front door. Mrs. Mooney, owner of the curiosity shop next door, stood beaming on the threshold. "I've got a new shipment of Venus flytraps today. The kids love them, and I brought one for your front window."
Emma murmured her thanks. A Venus flytrap? Not her first choice for a cheerful window plant, but Mrs. Mooney seemed so pleased with herself. Her white hair was fashioned in its usual shellacked pouf, and her blue eyeliner was just a little too thick and a bit crooked. Emma suspected Mrs. Mooney's eyesight was going, but it certainly didn't stop her from seeing everything that happened on Pine Cove Island. If there was one person who knew the latest gossip and kept a sharp eye on everything, it was Moira Mooney.
The older woman bustled in, setting the small plant on a table near the window. "What have you got whipped up today? I could really use something for Bonbon. He's been chasing squirrels again, and I think he bruised his paw."
Emma arranged her features into what she hoped was a look of polite sympathy. Bonbon was Mrs. Mooney's ridiculously spoiled toy poodle.
Mrs. Mooney sidled up to the counter and stared down. "Well, there's the chocolate one, but that's poison for dogs."
"Mmm," Emma agreed. She had learned long ago that "mmm" was an all-purpose answer that seemed to appease Mrs. Mooney. There were only three other options for Bonbon in the case. "How about 'Summer Sunshine'? Would Bonbon like to feel warm and cozy?"
"He's plenty cozy in his new doggy sweater. What else have you got?"
"Well, here's 'Raspberry Kiss,'" Emma said. "But I don't imagine Bonbon needs a boost of confidence in the looks department."
Mrs. Mooney snorted. "My Bonbon is the most beautiful dog on the island, and he knows it."
Emma didn't doubt it. But she did have to wonder if Bonbon minded having his toenails painted fuchsia. "I think this would be just the thing." She reached in and pulled out a pale lilac–frosted cupcake. "This is 'Lavender Bliss.' It is intended to bring about peaceful moments and good feelings."
Mrs. Mooney nodded firmly. "That's perfect for my baby. Thank you, dear."
Emma couldn't help but feel a wave of gratitude for the older woman. Mrs. Mooney had been a friend of Emma's grandmother, and she never doubted Emma's gift. Her grandmother had been kind to Mrs. Mooney over the years, never missing a chance to remind Emma that true friends came in all different packages — sometimes even the nosy, quirky ones. Mrs. Mooney had always been a believer, which wasn't very common. There were only a few people on the island who truly believed in the Holloway magic. Almost everyone else, including tourists, treated Emma's cupcake charms as a whimsical marketing gimmick. Oh, they still bought her baked goods with a wink and a good-natured smile. But they felt the same way toward her cupcakes as they would about finding a four-leaf clover, or making a wish on dandelion fluff. Fairy Cakes baked goods were just like their namesake: make-believe. And if a person happened to feel good after eating a "Be Well" cupcake, they usually shook their heads and told themselves it would have happened anyway.
That was the odd thing about people. They were surrounded by magic all the time, but they just couldn't see it.
Mrs. Mooney leaned in, her voice vibrating with the gossip she was about to spill. "Have you heard the news? You know the old property on the waterfront?"
Emma knew it well. She could see its front door from her own shop window. It had once been a seafood restaurant, before it went out of business when the economy fell. Since then it had remained empty, and nobody had taken it because the rent was so high. "What about it?"
Mrs. Mooney lowered her voice to a fierce whisper. "It's been purchased! I saw the new owner just yesterday."
"Mmm." Emma wiped the counter and eyed the clock on the wall. If prattling on forever was an Olympic sport, Mrs. Mooney would win the gold. "Well, it's good to know we'll have another restaurant again."
"But no, that's what I'm trying to tell you." Mrs. Mooney fluttered her hands dramatically. "It's not nice at all, my dear. At least not for you. The new shop is going to be a fancy restaurant with French pastries and a bakery with cakes and everything."
Excerpted from "Don't Call Me Cupcake"
Copyright © 2018 Tara Sheets.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
But writing is solid and story is believable. Good read
Emma and Juliet Holloway are the last left on Pine Cove Island, cousins with a special magical inheritance (if not much money). Emma is known on the island as a baker of some talent: her cupcakes sold at her shop Fairy Cakes bring hope, healing, peace and determination to those lucky enough to sample them. When Hunter appears in the shop, she offers him the cupcake she feels will best help him in his endeavors, a cupcake that brings success. It isn’t until she discovers that he’s the owner of the new restaurant that will cause her struggling bakery even more problems, that she discovers her mistake. It’s been a struggle with dwindling profits, a house that is falling down around her, and now, a new puppy that her cousin Juliette has dropped off. With the upcoming summer festival, source of her plans to pay off both a mortgage, her shop rent and perform necessary repairs now a joint venture between her and Hunter – she’s convinced that no good can come of this, no matter how intriguing the man is. Throughout the story, we are treated to Emma’s reliance on routine and specific information: a mother with wanderlust, an unknown father, a childhood as one of the ‘weird” kids, and the struggles with her business, relationships with anyone but her very opinionated house aren’t in Emma’s plans. But Hunter makes all of those worries dim….. at least momentarily, even as she and Juliette with her ‘plant magic’ are planning a special cupcake to encourage Hunter to move on and far far away. So damn cute and adorable, especially with the sentient house that has very decided and definite opinions about the people in Emma’s life. And that connection with Hunter, that they both are determined to ignore, until they can’t ignore the pull…. Both Hunter and Emma, with a tiny bit of advice and pushing from other townspeople, finally come to their senses in the most dramatic ways possible. But, it’s the sweetness of their interactions (when they aren’t bickering), and the electric chemistry that mixes with the wondrous magical moments that weave through the recipes, the plants, and even the island. A lovely start to a new series – and plenty of fun for those who want a different flavor of bakery story. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
There was a bit too much repetition which slowed the book down. The house was the best character in the book.
**Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review** Don't Call Me Cupcake (The Holloway Girls #1) is the first book I've read by aukthor Tara Sheets and I LOVED it! This book has it all including quirky, fun characters (Emma and Hunter), ,unique plot and hot steamy romance. Now if only I could get ahold of one of those magical cupcakes :) Can't wait for The Holloway Girls Book #2.
In the small town of Pine Cove, the Holloway family have been known for their magic for generations. Emma’s family has baked magic infused cupcakes to fix what ails, bring contentment, success, or lift someone’s spirits. Emma meets a new, handsome man in town and sells him her "success" cupcakes. He eats all three, before Emma finds out that he is Hunter Kane, a big city entrepreneur who has come to Pine Cove Island to build a competitive business near her cupcake/sweet shop. Emma can’t afford to lose any business as money is very tight. Her old house is in need of urgent repairs, her mortgage is past due, and she can't pay her rent on her shop. Emma wants Hunter gone, so she and her cousin plan to whip up a cupcake that will make him want to leave. Unfortunately, their intense and irresistible attraction to one another has Emma reevaluating her plan of baking a magical “be-gone” cupcake to get rid of him. Don’t Call Me Cupcake was a sweet, magical romance that I really enjoyed. Hunter and Emma knock heads a bit when they first meet, but sparks flew every time they were together. They were fun together and even though there was a mutual attractions, they were careful and did not rush into a physical relationship. I loved the magical aspect to the story. We had Emma's special cupcakes, Juliet's magic with plants and flowers and the house itself. Things were moved and found all over the place and always when they were needed. The story itself was sweet, with wonderful townspeople, some good character building, some angst, missteps, and even an ex-boyfriend who causes some problems. Pine Cove sounded like a quaint, beautiful seaside town, making the story even more charming, and a place I would love to visit. I really enjoy the Holloway Girls and look forward to reading Juliet's story in the next book in this series coming out later this month.
Don’t Call Me Cupcake is author Tara Sheets’s debut novel, the first in her Holloway Girls series. This book is outside my normal reading material, but I was quickly drawn in by its charm. The plot is cute, the dialogue fresh and breezy, and the fluffy story a perfect end to a long, frustrating day. The paranormal aspect adds just enough leavening to make this story rise above its contemporary romance competitors. The magical aspects are cute and deftly woven into the story. The sentient house steals the show! A big-time Seattle business man, Hunter Kane, moves to a sleepy island town with ideas to open a restaurant and to bring the town into the 21st century. He immediately runs into Emma Holloway, the local baker, who mixes magical spells into her cupcakes. The couple try to ignore their growing attraction which Emma attributes to a misguided magical spell placed by her cousin. This book utilizes several romance tropes: Billionaire hero: Hunter Kane is a rich alpha male who can buy anything he wants—except true love. Fish-out-of- water: When he moves to the coastal village, he doesn’t fit in but still manages to win his true love’s heart. Opposites attract: Hunter is rich, math- and money- and goal-oriented who doesn’t believe in love and marriage while Emma is a go-with-the-flow woman who still dreams of finding her one-and-only.
Sweet, engaging, witty, and absolutely charming! This first Holloway Girls story is a great feel-good read. The angst level is low and the fun is high with everything from magical cupcakes to a bit of an enemies to lovers romance. As if our couple isn't entertaining enough, the story is packed full of quirky, lovable characters, including the house. Yes, the house is most certainly a character and asserts itself quite effectively. I would easily recommend this one to any romance fan who enjoys a touch of magic. It's well-written, fast-paced, and guaranteed to leave you with a smile.
Seven generations ago, the Holloway family left Ireland and settled on Pine Cove Island, a small Pacific NW island town, bringing their gifts (magic) with them. However, instead of increasing, there are only two Holloway women left on the island, Emma and her cousin Juliette. Emma's mother's talent was wanderlust, so Emma had been raised by her beloved grandmother in the family home, an old house that is falling apart, but also semi sentient. Emma, like her grandmother before her, bakes wished into her cakes, good wishes granted to the recipient, but they don't work on the baker. Emma's grandmother sold her wares in her shop Fairy Cakes, which was very successful until she got cancer. With the cost of the treatments and hospitalization, they had to take a mortgage on the house and after her grandmother died, Emma is left with debts she can't pay. Yet, she is still optimistic, because summer is coming with festivals to bring in tourists, who will buy her cupcakes and provide the much needs funds. When a handsome stranger, Hunter Kane, walks into her shop telling her he is there on business, she sells him 3 success cupcakes and then learns that his new restaurant will be her competition and likely put her out of business. So Juliette, whose talent is a green thumb, comes up with the idea to bake a cupcake that will convince him to go away. Of course the plan goes awry, when Emma and Hunter succumb to the chemistry between them. The author spins a charming tale, with endearing characters, an interesting plot, a magic house, villains and cute dogs. I recommend this book and look forward to reading the sequel about Juliette.
“Don’t Call Me Cupcake” is a great cute fun story. Light chick lit with laughter and a serious side. Loved knowing Emma, Juliette, Hunter, Buddy & House. Can’t wait for Tara Sheets next book “Don’t Touch My Petunia”. Wished there were a few recipes.
Don't Call Me Cupcake is a sweet (pun totally intended) story about finding love where you least expect it. Hunter and Emma are easy characters to root for, and I loved the touches of magic sprinkled throughout--Emma's cupcakes, her sentient house, and her cousin's way with plants--even if I wasn't 100% on board with how/when they chose to use their "powers." Emma did have a tendency toward overreaction at times and her ex was more than a little over-the-top in his villainy, but it's hard to argue with the super cute ending. How long do we have to wait for Juliette's story? ;) Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+ I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Rating 4.5/5* This is a heartwarming, magical, tasty romantic treat with lovely characters in a delightful island community setting. The magical element comes from the Holloway Girls, both of whom have very different magical abilities. Emma's skill is in creating cupcakes that gift the person eating it with beneficial effects, such as sweet dreams, feeling well, bliss or success - the effects are always positive. Unfortunately Emma gives not one but three of her success cakes to the handsome stranger who has eaten them before she discovers he's going to open a restaurant that could mean the end of her 'Fairy Cakes' business..... After this inauspicious introduction, she then finds out that she has to work with him and share in the preparations for the summer festival - but she's almost destitute and can't afford to share! With dilemmas like this around and her home in urgent need of repair, Emma and her cousin decide to create a cupcake that will make him want to leave and to stay away. However, when a jasmine charm spills and attraction between Emma and Hunter grows, who knows what mischief her sentient home, an unwanted puppy, her ex-boyfriend and love can cause! Add in the great range of island characters and they're definitely the ingredients for recipe for a magical story to escape into! I'll definitely be looking out for future stories in this series. I requested and was given a copy of this novel, via NetGalley, with no obligation. This is my honest review of the book after choosing to read it.
I picked up Emma and Hunter's story on a whim last month and I absolutely loved it. From the start I was enthralled in their magical story. Emma is the type of person you want to be your bff. She's fun and unique and she has charmed all of Pine Cove Island residents. Hunter though he doesn't quite believe she has magic and he is a bit hard headed and determined but sexy and loving as well. If you love a entertaining, quirky contemporary romance with a touch of magic then I highly recommend Don't Call Me Cupcake!
Emma Halloway and her cousin Juliette are the last of the Halloway’s on Pine Cove Island. The Halloway women have, for generations, had magical powers that they use for the good of the inhabitants of Pine Cove. Emma, like her grandmother before her, bakes her magic into her cupcakes for her bakery. Hunter Kane is a real estate developer, who has bought the empty restaurant in Pine Cove and is planning on selling French pastries. Emma is convinced that he will put her out of business. This is a cute light confection of a book. I liked this book overall. It is sweet (there is sex, but done in a PG rated way), the secondary characters were charming, and I did want to read Juliette’s book. What kept this from being a five star book, Emma. Emma was a bit of a whiner. When she finds out what Hunter is in town for, instead of figuring out how to beat him in the bakery business, she seems to throw up her hands and wants to resort to her magic. I just wish that she was a stronger character. I received an arc of this book for my honest review
Sometimes you’re just in the mood for something sugary sweet with a touch of spice and humor, folks. That seems to adequately describe this debut author’s new bewitching romantic book series. Emma’s been making cupcakes laced with luck, health, and happiness for some time now thanks to some magic and recipes handed down from her likewise enchanted ancestors. Her cousin partner in crime, Juliette, also has been gifted with magical abilities, mainly the gift of a garden thumb. That girl can grow anything, anywhere, anytime. When these two join forces to preserve and hold off Hunter, the hero, from single handedly changing their island wharf neighborhood as they know it, well, things get messy in and out of Emma’s enchanted home and Fairy Cakes kitchen. With a very leisurely pace, there is some mild relationship angst as unexpected feelings get mixed into the fray as Emma and Hunter slowly but surely get to know one another. The sweet cover and streamlined synopsis pretty much portrays exactly what you’ll get with this one. If you enjoy a small town, mostly fade to black/not overly graphically steamy, enemies to lovers with a touch of good natured paranormal, you’ll likely want to read this series. There is a prologue for book 2, Don’t Touch My Petunias, included at the very end. You’ll get a glimpse of Juliette facing off with Logan, a handsome returning to his hometown hero, whose history with her is likely going to set off quite a bit of magic and relationship sparks, as well. Title: Don’t Call Me Cupcake, Series: The Holloway Girls (Book 1), Author: Tara Sheets, Pages: 304, stand-alone but part of a series, romantic read with a touch of paranormal, enemies to lovers, fade to black/not overly steamy scenes, no lusty language, HEA, no love triangle, no cheating, former ex-boyfriend causes trouble, reluctant to love knucklehead hero. Rating: 3.5 stars Book 1 - Don’t Call Me Cupcake Book 2 - Don’t Touch My Petunias (I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not given any payment or compensation for this review, nor is there any affiliation or relationship between this reviewer and the author/publisher/NetGalley.)
Tara Sheets presents readers with a sweet read that will satisfy every reader's sweet tooth. Don't Call Me Cupcake introduces Emma and Juliette Holloway, cousins in a line of women with special gifts. Emma bakes charms into her cupcakes that grant wishes, such as uplifted spirits or sunny skies, to those who eat them. Unknowingly, Emma sells her Sweet Success cupcakes to Hunter Kane who is opening a high-end restaurant across from Fairy Cakes. Now, the only way to save her bakery is to get Hunter out of the picture. Humorous and just plain adorable, Don't Call Me Cupcake is the feel-good romance you need in your life right now! Emma is a young woman whose abilities and family legacy mean everything to her. Hurt in the past by a mother with the gift of wanderlust and the man she thought she'd spend the rest of her life with, Emma has emerged with a spine of steel and a determination to never be hurt again. Yet, when she has to work with Hunter in preparation for Pine Cove's summer festival she finds herself bending to his charms. Hunter is making his mark on Pine Cove. He's making big changes in an effort bring in more tourists and expand his business. He finds the locals, and their old fashioned way of doing business, quite quirky. When Emma and Hunter work together, though, they both learn that change can be a good thing and it's okay to slow down and smell the cupcakes. Emma does not make it easy for Hunter to get close, but her feisty attitude adds to the light-heartedness of the story. The general cast of the story are perfect for this small town setting as they provide support to Emma, or create drama that could potentially ruin her. Don't Call Me Cupcake closes with a strong finish that has my mouth watering for more! I highly recommend reading Tara Sheets' work, starting with this award-winning debut! *ARC provided in consideration for review*
Don't Call Me Cupcake is as sweet and magical as the icing on a cupcake. Emma Holloway is struggling to make ends meet. She bakes a little magic into every cupcake she makes but she needs a little magic in her life. When hunky Hunter Kane walks into her shop she thinks he may just be the magic her heart needs. That is until she finds out that he is opening a competing business. Will the Holloway magic be enough to keep her in business? Fans of Angie Fox and Jill Shalvis will love Don't Call Me Cupcake. Looking forward to Juliettes story.
Like the characters she creates, Sheets strives to spread happiness with her confectionery brand of sunshine. Don't Call Me Cupcake is an ideal introduction to an at times kooky, yet always light hearted series. A gesture of kindness sparks a professional rivalry and an irresistible romance. Tara Sheets' and her Holloway Girls will definitely put a little love in your heart, even as they tempt readers with sugary sweetness.