Christmas at the Cupcake Café: Cupcake Café # 2 by Jenny Colgan with Excerpt and Giveaway

Welcome to my stop for Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan.  Please be sure to check out the other tour stops and my recipe excerpt for Gingerbread (I’ve included a conversion site for the folks who are unfamiliar with metric baking!) and  don’t forget to enter the Tour Wide Giveaway for 2 e-copies of CHRISTMAS AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE!

Book Review:

The second book that I have read from this author, I love how Colgan incorporates food (chocolate or cupcakes) into her stories and gives them a respect that one would expect from characters.  Issy is a year into running her Cupcake Café, and when I finished this, I added Meet Me at the Cupcake Café to my buy list.  Colgan provides readers who haven’t read the first book with a solid sense of events leading to this story, without overwhelming us with details or information, in fact, she starts out with a quick “catch you up” that actually gives a nice sense of what has happened, so the characters feel familiar.

Issy is content with her café, and is thinking that she and Austin just may take the next step in their relationship.  And while Austin starts out being rather ‘meh’ in my opinion, Issy’s confidence in who he could become, even when she isn’t completely certain herself, fit the story beautifully: these two are both at crossroads and decisions must be made.  Austin has been father and mother to his younger brother, Danny, since their parents were killed in a car crash.  At the time, he started in banking to pay the bills, never thinking that years later he would still be there.  But, a slowdown in the economy and more local banks closing their doors, he is sent to work in New York for a short while, an offer that turns into a wonderful opportunity in the states.

Meanwhile, Christmas is coming, and Issy still isn’t comfortable with Austin so far away, leaving her in charge of Danny and with her own support system being less than supportive. People change and lives alter, and Issy is so completely attuned to being ‘left behind’ that she is certain Austin is gone.  Her best friend Helena is in the middle of the ‘post marriage first baby everything is wonderful as the best mommy ever’ moments, and you can completely feel how the loss of Helena as she was without the title of Mummy and utterings on her very intractable and rather ordinary child are not quite her cup of tea.  With Pearl’s disgruntled attitude getting worse, as her struggles to keep Louis happy and manage expenses, she is wrapped in her own world and the pressure of the holidays start to wear on her.  Always battling with Caroline, who is a solidly Harrod’s woman living on an Asda budget, who is in the midst of a very tempestuous divorce.  Caroline is very ‘high maintenance’, and she delights in picking at Pearl, with a lackadaisical attitude toward her job.

There are so many stories all pulled together as the characters are tied to Issy and the café, and somehow Issy is determined to give everyone some spirit for Christmas, even if she doesn’t find it for herself.  Her own concerns about her relationship, and the changes that are expected of her from Austin, who doesn’t see just how important her life in England and the café are to her consume many of her hours when she isn’t making a new treat or contemplating the next one.

You have to be willing to let a story unfold in front of you, without great dramatic reveals or twists, seeing the gradual changes and influences that people have on each other.  Colgan does this with great flair: sure there are moments that could be the next big ‘bang’ but most of the story is one foot in front of the other, all leading you down a path that is pure delight for the wonderful side-journeys that you take. Issy is the woman you want to call friend: and you actually do worry for her, cheer her on and find the ending, while feeling a bit rushed, the ending that was meant to be.

Christmas at the Cupcake Café: Cupcake Café # 2 by Jenny Colgan with Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: Christmas at the Cupcake Café
Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Themed
Published by: William Morrow
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 352
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

Get Your Copy: Amazon iTunes Downpour IndieBound Audible
See this Title on Goodreads

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don’t seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment.

But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another. . .

Indulge yourself and your sweet-toothed friends with Jenny Colgan’s new novel, simply bursting with Christmas cupcake recipes and seasonal sugar-fuelled fun.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Tasty Excerpt

Gingerbread – A Recipe! (to convert for US Bakers go HERE

This is not for gingerbread men, which is more of a cookie recipe as it has to stay hard and crunchy. And it is not for gingerbread houses, unless you have endless time on your hands and (let’s say it quietly) are a bit of a show-off who would rather their cakes were admired than devoured. No, this is old-fashioned soft, sticky gingerbread. It doesn’t take long to make, but you’ll be glad you did.

NB Oil the container before you fill it with treacle. Otherwise you and your dishwasher are going to fall out really badly.

50g white sugar
50g brown sugar
120g butter
1 egg
180ml treacle
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp powdered cinnamon
1 tbsp powdered ginger (or a little more if you like)
1/2 tsp ground cloves (I just threw in a ‘lucky’ clove)
1/2 tsp salt
60ml hot water
Preheat oven to 175°C/gas mark 3.
Grease a loaf tin or square baking tin.

Cream sugar and butter together (you can do this entire thing in the mixer), then add the egg and the treacle. Mix the spices, baking powder, flour and salt. Fold in to wet mixture. Add the water, then pour into baking tin and bake for 45 minutes. You can sprinkle icing sugar on the top, or make an icing glaze, or just slice it like it is – proper yummy, sticky Christmas gingerbread.

Serve liberally to people you like.

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About Jenny Colgan

Jenny T. Colgan was born in 1972 in Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, UK. After studying at Edinburgh University, she worked for six years in the health service, moonlighting as a cartoonist and a stand-up comic, before the publication of her first novel Amanda's Wedding in 2000. In 2013, her novel "Welcome to Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop of Dreams" won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists' Association. She is now working on her next novel.

She is married with Andrew, a marine engineer, and had three children, Wallace, Michael-Francis, and Delphie. She mostly lives in France, with frequent visits to London. She occasionally writes for The Guardian newspaper, as well as a TV series.

Her Doctor Who novel Dark Horizons is published under the name J.T. Colgan.

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