THE BROKEN HEARTS BAKERY by Carla Laureano
SERIES: Haven Ridge #1
GENRE: Contemporary Romance (Clean & Wholesome)
PUBLISHER: Laureano Creative Media LLC
RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2023
Fifteen years ago, the town of Haven Ridge failed its most important mandate—to be a sanctuary for heartbroken citizens in need. Now it’s getting a second chance to set things right …
When Gemma left her hometown of Haven Ridge, Colorado, years ago in a cloud of controversy, she swore she would never return. And she’s kept that promise, instead building her reputation as one of LA’s preeminent family law attorneys. But when her lifelong best friend begs her to come stay with her teen stepdaughter, Taylor, while she’s on a business trip, Gemma doesn’t have the heart to refuse. She’ll simply keep a low profile, do her honorary aunt duties, and be gone before anyone knows the difference.
But Haven Ridge seems to have a mind of its own, dragging Gemma unwillingly back into the community she’s tried so hard to leave behind, and she soon finds herself caught up with new friends and old rivalries. When Taylor is the object of an ugly bit of teen bullying that brings back far too many unwelcome memories, Gemma does the only thing she knows how to do: ply her honorary niece with baked goods and words of affirmation. Soon, her temporary digs are ground zero for teenage girls seeking sugar and consolation for shockingly adult problems—which the girls soon dub The Broken Hearts Bakery.
Complicating matters is an unexpected reunion with Gemma’s high school sweetheart, Stephen, who is determined to change her mind about him, the town, and the nature of love itself. Because as it turns out, her niece isn’t the only one nursing a broken heart…
Other Books In This Series
When I hear the words ‘magical realism’, I immediately gravitate to that story. And whether it’s a subtle hint like we see in The Broken Hearts Bakery or a more overt factor, I’m here for it 100 percent. In Carla Laureano’s newest series, I adore the town of Haven Ridge as a character in its own right, particularly the references to its being almost sentient toward its residents. I loved these little winks throughout the story, particularly when Granny Pearl was on the scene, and I felt both the magic & the heart of this quaint little town as we followed Gemma’s ‘second chance’ return.
Speaking of Gemma, I really liked her – not just her personality but also her kind heart and her passion to help women of all ages out of bad situations. I related to her on several levels, but I think we most bonded (if bonding with a fictional character is possible) over the journey toward daring to imagine that fulfilling your life’s calling sometimes takes you down a different path than you intended. In fact, I think a lot of us can relate to that, and Gemma’s genuinely likable traits just add to the feeling that – if she were in fact a real person – she would be a delightful friend to have. Plus she’s an amazing baker, so there’s that too.
Stephen is swoony all on his own, but when you add in his love for books and reading and, as a teacher, using literature to help us see universal truths through someone else’s perspective… well, he makes the ideal hero for us readerly types. He’s not perfect by any means – he’s made some big mistakes in his past, particularly where Gemma is concerned, and he makes some dumb mistakes in his present, too – but he’s perfect for Gemma and I loved watching their ‘high school sweetheart’ romance rekindle. The fact that their initial romance started from a friendship allows them to start there at least – with the foundation of friendship (and some fun banter) – while navigating the lingering feelings that spark to life when they’re reunited. But once those sparks fan into a flame, have a swooning couch close by because these kisses are spicy and fun and everything yummy! (The capture-the-flag game!!)
Bottom Line: If The Broken Hearts Bakery by Carla Laureano was a fairy tale, Haven Ridge (or maybe Granny Pearl) would be the fairy godmother who nudges things into place with a bit of magic and a lot of heart. I loved my first visit to this charming town, even if they do have a lot to make up for where Gemma is concerned, and I look forward to many more return visits in the future. Gemma and Stephen – as well as several of the supporting characters – are nicely-layered and engaging, and readers will be as invested as I was in their relationship. If you’re a fan of swoony romance with fan-inducing kisses and quirky small town settings, then you’ll love The Broken Hearts Bakery!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. In the interest of full disclosure, the company I freelance for as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a social media tour. This in no way affected my review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep that fan & fainting couch handy!
Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA® award-winning author of sixteen books, spanning the genres of contemporary romance and Celtic fantasy. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked in sales and marketing for more than a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write full-time. In 2022, she founded Sophisticated Fiction to provide editorial, critique, and coaching services to authors of all levels. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, two sons, and an opinionated tortoiseshell cat named Willow.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Broken Hearts Bakery by Carla Laureano?