February Book Review: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

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Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe (Supper Club #2)

By: Carla Laureano

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5/5 beakers

 

Melody stumbled to the kitchen to start the coffee, bleary eyed and aching in a way no force of will could completely assuage.  She needed something to do before her restlessness made her stupid.  Something to occupy her hands and mind.  Something to honor Grandma Bev’s memory and the way she’d blessed her only grandchild even through her death.

Which meant baking, of course.  Preferably something complicated, even tedious.  A dessert Grandma Bev loved.

Macarons.


Have you ever had a book fall into your lap just when you needed it?  A book that expresses your fears and anxieties and reminds you of God’s goodness and His plan for your life?  Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe was that book for me, and between the lessons on learning to wait for God’s timing and all the amazing food, this immediately went on my favorites shelf.

Melody Johannson is at a dead-end.  Since she quit her job as a pastry chef to show solidarity for one of her best friends, Rachel Bishop, Melody has been stuck in jobs that leave her exhausted both physically and emotionally.  She dreams of finding a job where she can make the amazing pastries that she spent so many years learning to create, and, after years of failed romantic relationships, she dreams of finding a man to sweep her off her feet.  Into her life blows Justin Keller: handsome, smart, thoughtful, and often absent thanks to his job as a pilot.  When an unexpected loss leaves Melody in need of a little help, an offer to repair a vintage car leads to sparks–the good kind, of course.  But Melody’s a free-spirit, and Justin is in the process of buying a charter plane company in Florida, and although there’s a time limit on their relationship, both of them find themselves questioning their plans and their faith in God’s plans as they grow closer to each other.

Like its predecessor, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is a work of culinary art.  Rachel was a traditional chef, but Melody is a pastry chef,  meaning there are so many wonderful scenes of Melody baking this or that sweet and making my mouth water!  Melody is so creative with her baking, and it’s great to see how this talent that her Grandma Bev fostered has led to such joy and success in Melody’s life.  With Bev’s unexpected death, Melody falls back on her baking, and it’s bittersweet to see how much the act of baking is intertwined with Melody’s memories of her grandmother.  The wonderful things that she makes, though, sound completely amazing, and I wish I had even a fraction of Melody’s baking skills!

Justin, although not a baker, is just as skilled at his own profession.  I have to admit to knowing even less about flying than I do about baking, which means I know essentially nothing.  I can count on a single hand the number of times I’ve flown in my almost 30 years of life, so all the facts about piloting were new to me, and I found them quite interesting!  Justin is dedicated to his job, and although he’s had a few romances, he’s never settled down due to his frequent absences.  He’s seen what a job as a pilot can do to a marriage, thanks to his divorced parents, and he enjoys his job too much to switch gears.  However, he can tell from the start that Melody is something special; his and Melody’s meet-cute is especially cute, and their relationship, for the most part, just gets sweeter from there.

I love that both Melody and Justin have their eyes wide open as they begin to develop a relationship.  They know Justin is heading to Florida and that Melody isn’t quite sure what her next step is, but they’re willing to make things work for as long as they can and see where it takes them.  However, once their hearts truly get involved, things get more than a little complicated, and that’s where faith comes in.  Neither Melody nor Justin is sure of what God has planned for them, and although Justin believes in God, he’s not walking with the Lord.  Melody is seeking God’s desire for her life, but she’s getting frustrated that the dreams she has for herself aren’t panning out.

In this season of my life, I can really relate to Melody; although many of my plans for my life have been fulfilled, I have a lot of trouble being patient and waiting on God’s timing rather than my own.  I know that God has great plans for me, but I want to know what those plans are right now rather than waiting for his timing, and it’s something I’ve really had to pray about.  Sometimes waiting is easy, but usually it’s awful, and that feeling of waiting to know what the next right step is can be just so incredibly frustrating.  Throw in a desire for a life partner that’s fueled by hundreds of literary romances and seeing friends fall in love, and it’s all too easy to see how Melody can be willing to follow Justin no matter what.  However, Melody realizes that she can’t give up all her other dreams just for one, even if that one dream is a big one, and so she lets Justin go, choosing to trust in the Lord even if she doesn’t understand why He’s leading her down this particular path.

Although the romance between Melody and Justin is one of the major aspects of this book, I really appreciate that there’s also a focus on other sorts of relationships and how those can be relevant in a person’s life.  Melody and Justin don’t simply let their growing feelings for one another dictate their choices; they take into account the other important relationships in their lives and make smart decisions rather than ones just led by their hearts.  For Justin, this means taking into account his sister, who suffers from intermittent MS, and the reality that relocating to Florida could literally change her life.  He can’t easily make the decision to stay in Colorado if it means that his family will suffer just so he can be with Melody.  Melody, on the other hand, has her new restaurant and her friendships with Rachel and Ana to consider when she has to decide whether to step into the dream-come-true reality of being her own boss again or the lifelong hope of finding love.  So many literary romances are written in such a way that the characters always follow their hearts and everything works out fine in the end.  But real life isn’t like that, and Laureano expresses the heartache that Melody and Justin feel as they mourn the loss of the future that could have been in order to make the decisions that they know are best.

Of course, this is a Christian contemporary romance, and God rewards Melody and Justin’s faithfulness by proving that He’s had their futures in His hands all along.  Not only do Melody and Justin find themselves having grown as a result of their tough choices, they find themselves pulled back to one another again, and this time, it’s clear that they’ve been brought together to be together for good.  It’s a wonderful and sweet portrayal of how God works things in His own time and how everything He does is for our good; the choices may seem hard at the time, but things will work out as they should in the end, and sometimes that means you get both the bakery and the boy.

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is an amazing addition to the Supper Club series.  It’s a book full of important lessons on faith, patience, and friendship and one that features plenty of amazing desserts!  Seriously, make sure to have some pastries on hand while you’re reading, or you’ll be sad.  Melody is such a sunny and upbeat character, but even she struggles with waiting on God’s timing, and that’s something so many of us can relate to. I can’t wait to see how things turn out for her and Justin in what I assume will be the final book of the series, a book featuring the fierce and fiercely loyal Ana!


Favorite Quotes:

  • “You said you’d rather fail at something you loved than succeed at the wrong thing.”
  • “Whatever you choose to do, give your plans to God and He will give you all you desire.”
  • “Every kid wants to fit in.  It’s only when you get older that you realize it’s boring.”
  • “Forget diamonds.  Books are this girl’s best friend.”
  • “It takes courage to be honest even when it might cost you something.”

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