Sweet Stuff - Donna Kauffman
This ended up being a fun read. I thought it was going to be pretty superficial but there was a lot of depth and heart.The beginning was a bit rough because Kauffman can be rather verbose in her writing and there were several meandering info dumps. My eyes started to cross with the amount of information being thrown at me. But once over that hump the story did a great job of mostly showing and not much telling. The story is predictable and dipped into the cliché but I cared about Riley Brown and Quinn Brannigan and reading their journey. Especially as they really got to know each other over the course of the book. There was less than a quarter of the book left before they got intimate with each other, so it was more about them truly coming together and it was so easy to understand their love for each other. I love that.Riley was kind of a mess, but a lovable mess. Her backstory was pretty rage inducing (and one I'm really tired of reading, because it angers me so much – and revenge never happens!). However, we get to see her move beyond the wall she built and learn to trust again. Quinn, while one of those male characters that just didn't "do" relationships before, is very sweet. He had some great lines, which I chalk up to him being a writer. One of the best, I must say, was when he said to Riley, "How many people have to value you before you stop judging yourself by the one selfish bastard who didn't?" The secondary characters, most of whom were introduced in the first book that I'm reading second, were strong but could be a bit much. I was pleasantly surprised that the whole Cupcake Club thing wasn't as trite as I thought it would be (and usually is). But those scenes could get tedious at how ridiculous the characters could be. It was hit or miss for me. With the exception of the completely random dog POV of Brutus, Riley's massive (150 pounds!) dog, at the end, and wondering how Quinn's book turned out and was received (as that was a pretty big question raised by that subplot) I liked the way the story resolved. This is a fun, quick read and comes with some really involved cupcake recipes in the back. Haha, good luck making those! 3.5 stars.ETA: This was something I wrote in my review of the first book that, obviously, applies to this one...I'm going to get on my soapbox here for a moment as this is something I've been noticing more and more and it is irritating the hell out of me to the point it dampens my enjoyment of good books/series like this one. In the first book one of the secondary characters is Charlotte, Lani's best friend from culinary school who comes from New Delhi. Charlotte is around the same age as Lani, and she's given a side plot of falling for a man who works for Baxter, named Carlo (I believe it's said in the second book that he's Puerto Rican). In this book their relationship has advanced and there are some rather interesting hurdles they're working through. The thing is, this book isn't about them. Instead, in a tacked on Epilogue in the first book, Riley – the completely random, white, Heroine of this book is introduced.Do you see where I'm going with this?It is driving me absolutely nuts that romance authors create these dynamic secondary characters of different races then advance the series by creating white characters out of the blue for/in the next book instead of exploring the lives of the character(s) they've already introduced that are primed for their own book. That basically says to me that we're good enough to be the interesting friend/sidekick – and, sure, get an HEA on the side – but not good enough to headline a book. The author of my favorite contemporary romance series did this as well. It's getting to be upsetting and these are good books I really like and I don't want this negative black cloud hanging over them. I hope that authors in this genre will be better about this in the future.