Title: Cupcakes & Crumbs
Author: Melissa McClone
Genre: Romantic Women’s Fiction
After life takes five women on different paths, a death brings them home. But friendship might not be enough to keep them together.
When Bria Landon and her estranged father each inherit fifty percent of a small-town cupcake shop, her dad hires her worst enemy, and first love, to turn the place into a soulless franchise…or sell it.
To save her aunt’s legacy, Bria needs the help of people who love the bakery as much as she does—her old friends who worked there fifteen years ago. Except each woman is dealing with her own problem.
Juliet fears her marriage is about to crumble. She’s in panic mode, trying to prove she’s more than a trophy wife.
Since her husband's death nine years ago, working in the cupcake shop has saved Missy. Now, she might lose the job she loves.
Despite Nell’s insistence she’s happy being single, her meddling mom won’t stop playing matchmaker.
And life coach Selena has found fame and fortune fixing everyone else’s lives. Something, however, is missing in hers, and she hasn’t a clue what it might be.
They want to believe their friendship can overcome anything. But as the Berry Lake Cupcake Posse reunite to save their beloved cupcake shop, they soon discover the undertaking will bring more trouble than they expected.
Missy Hanford didn’t know which was worse—the sweat dripping down her neck or the clothes clinging to her skin. The temperature in the bakery’s kitchen kept rising, but stepping outside and cooling off wasn’t an option. The line of customers was out the door, and they kept running low on items. That meant she had cupcakes to make. If she met the demand, the shop might recover the revenue they’d lost from closing on Saturday for the funeral.
As Top 40 hits from the seventies and eighties—Elise’s favorite music—drifted in from the front of the shop, Missy filled baking cups with vanilla batter. The scent tickled her nose. The grumbling of her stomach reminded her she’d skipped her break and lunch. And her tastebuds whispered mine at the same time she imagined Elise shouting, Why eat plain vanilla when there are more flavorful combinations?
Missy laughed. Even though plain vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing were foundations for other flavors, Elise hadn’t sold them except for special orders. Missy, however, enjoyed vanilla cupcakes. Dare she say they were her favorite? The simplicity appealed to her in a way the more creative fillings and toppings didn’t.
Elise had claimed Missy hadn’t found her favorite yet.
She disagreed. Why mess with perfection?
Her boss, however, had been on a mission to find a recipe Missy would prefer over “plain” vanilla. Only now, there would be no new recipes created to tempt her away from her favorite. Not unless she wanted to come up with them herself.
Tears pricked her eyes.
She would cry later.
While she ate a vanilla cupcake.
Elise would have laughed at that or given her the stink eye.
Missy kept working. After filling the last cup, she placed the pan in an oven and grabbed another pan with cups to fill. Hunger was easy to ignore. Her dry throat, not so much.
She’d been telling herself that for hours. Those in the front dealing with customers eager for a freebie and a discount had it worse. They also had air-conditioning, which meant something must be broken with the vent system—one more thing to add to the to-fix list.
Bria stuck her head into the kitchen. A hairnet covered her auburn hair, and her eyes were no longer as red-rimmed as they’d been this morning. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” Missy continued scooping the batter. “Sounds busy out there.”
“Madhouse, but I think it’s what I—all of us—need.” Bria’s gaze softened. “Did you eat lunch?”
“I will later.” If Missy got too hungry, sweet treats surrounded her. Of course, she’d crash later from all the sugar, but sacrifices had to be made sometimes.
“Please do.” Bria glanced over her shoulder. “I can’t afford for anything to happen to you. Seriously, Missy. Without you, this place would shut down.”
Missy stood taller. “Nothing will happen to me. Promise. I just need to get more cupcakes finished.”
Bria opened her mouth but then closed it. “Okay, but yell if you need help.”
Bria side-eyed her.
“I’ve got this.” Missy half laughed. Bria was more like her aunt than she realized. “Stop worrying. If I need help, I’ll ask.”
With that, Bria disappeared.
Missy hadn’t been lying. She had things under control—somewhat.
All she had to do was stop staring at her water bottle like a woman who’d gotten lost in the nearby Gifford-Pinchot National Forest with nothing to drink for days. Okay, she was exaggerating, but she was thirsty. Unfortunately, if she took a sip now, she would need to wash her hands yet again, and that would take time she didn’t have. The tray needed to be filled before the timer dinged.
Then she would guzzle the entire thing.
Of course, she’d been telling herself that for an hour, and it wasn’t close to closing time. But as long as people wanted to buy cupcakes, they wouldn’t close until nothing remained. That was how Elise ran the shop. Missy would do the same.
“Just think how relaxing a shower and then sitting in front of the television will be.”
Her feet nearly sighed in relief. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. She was used to the chaos Elise’s birthday celebration brought each year, but today was the first with her in charge. Everyone, from the employees to Bria, looked at Missy to get the job done. No way would she disappoint them, but…
She glanced up at the ceiling. “How did you do this?”
Missy didn’t expect her boss to answer, but if anyone could, it would be Elise Landon, who had been the definition of a dynamo. She was both boss and friend to each employee who stepped through the door at the Berry Lake Cupcake Shop, regardless of gender, age, or orientation. She expected her staff to work hard and follow the rules. Nothing she hadn’t done herself. Oh, chemo had flattened Elise several times, but she’d kept going until she couldn’t and asked Missy to take over.
“I won’t let you down.”
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November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
I’m so thankful my family has remained and are still healthy. My oldest worked this summer as a front-line worker at a hospital and my two younger ones both had jobs where they dealt with the public, so that was a big concern for me.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
Cupcakes & Crumbs features five friends who reunite after fifteen years apart. These are woman who are relatable and caring but far from perfect. They each want to do better staying in touch and supporting each other. Plus, there are cupcakes! Those are always snuggle-worthy to me.
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USA Today Bestselling author Melissa McClone has written over forty-five novels. With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, she worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn't compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, a spoiled Norwegian Elkhound, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!
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Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-McClone/e/B001HOIG4K/