Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cupcake Club Romance

Sugar Rush, Sweet Stuff, Babycakes
By Donna Kauffman

I got these books because I was looking for something fluffy to read over Spring Break. However, I was really not satisfied with this series. The understanding that I had was that the theme was cupcakes; Kauffman had even started a blog where she tried different recipes and shared the results with her fans.  The books even contained recipes! However, only the first book was about cupcakes, so the whole sweet theme really didn't carry through.

Sugar Rush was fairly decent. This first book sets the scene on the small island town of Sugarberry Island (maybe that was the sweet connection) where Chef Leilani Trusdale has opened a cupcake bakery far from her New York past. When her former mentor, Chef Dunne (also known as Chef Hot Cakes), shows up to declare his love for her, Lani is determined to stay where she is and not follow her own heart as she knows it will only end in heartache.  The romance is fairly predictable and you can guess what the ending will be like.

Then Sweet Stuff begins with the introduction of the newest edition to the Cupcake Club (kind of like a bunko group but with baking involved), Riley Brown. Riley has experienced heartache and has decided to stay far away from men. However, writer Quinn Brannigan tries to change her mind. The focus on this novel has nothing to do with baking and everything to do with writing. I found this to be interesting but doubtful that it would hold the attention of non-writers. Guess the ending.

The final book, Babycakes, introduces Kit Bellamy who bakes pies and has recently lost her family's mail order business to a greedy brother-in-law and the court system. Who should appear on the island but the black sheep of the same attorney family, Morgan Westlake. Lani has hired Kit to start a mail order business with Lani's cupcakes. I really questioned Lani's business sense at this point but this is a work of fiction. The real focus of this book is on Morgan's orphaned niece and sea turtles. Yes, you learn lots of facts about the endangered sea turtle. Not that you would have a clue to this by reading the cover of the book... although I was happy to see they did not have another terrible shot of the same couple seen on the other two books. Fill in ending of book here, complete with saving the sea turtles.

All three books have way too much dialogue and introspection of the main characters. Need more action, Kauffman! And I am not just talking romantic action. I am asking for action of any kind (with the characters, not sea turtles)! Some novels don't have enough dialogue but this one has too much. By the time I got to the final book, I was really skimming pages. I probably focused more on the recipes in the back than I did to the actual story.  I would have had more fun trying to make the cupcakes than read the books.

What did these books have to do with my faith? Instead of church or a Christian small group, these friends have their Cupcake Club. Instead of communion, they have dessert. Instead of prayer, they have pep talks and lots of advice. What is very telling is that each person works on their own cooking project rather than working together. It is less about true community and more about individual therapy and support. The church is a very different place -- or should be. The church is a community where people work together in unity, using their spiritual gifts to accomplish the work of the kingdom. Sometimes this involves sacrifice and often means doing activities for others in love. The members of this club seemed to have love for one another but there was no spiritual depth to the love they had. Their goals remained very individualistic and mainly focused on issues of romantic love, a love which is far less lasting than agape love.

I do not recommend these books.

Happy reading!


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