USA Today Bestselling Author
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.
In this first book of the series we get to meet the individuals that make up the Berry Lake Cupcake Posse. This isn’t newly formed, rather it was a name given to the group when they worked at the cupcake shop together years ago.
As this book opens Elise Landon, the owner of the Berry Lake Cupcake Shop has lost her battle with Cancer. Her niece Bria has been with her, caring for her and keeping the business running. It’s Elise’s birthday and Bria isn’t sure if the employees would want to continue the usual birthday celebration at the shop. First we meet Missy Hanford, she never left Berry Lake and is now the baker and manager of the Cupcake shop. As Bria looks at the old photo of ‘the posse’ she remembers them all, Nell Culpepper is now a nurse at the local hospital, Juliet Monroe recently moved back with her wealthy husband, and Selena T, is a successful life coach married to a professional hockey player but lives in Seattle.
We get to see a lot of each of these women but the main story is Bria and the fate of the Cupcake shop. It seems Elise has left half of the coffee shop to her brother, Bria’s father. Bria has many conversations about this turn of events, including a get together of the cupcake posse. These woman need to come together more often and promise to do so, we also get a closer look at Juliet’s marriage which isn’t what she pretends it is.
A big turning point in the story is the meeting Bria has with her father the day after the will is read. He brings in a consultant, a real estate consultant. Dalton Dwyer, the man who when they were seniors in high school, broke her heart and caused his friends and others to bully her for the rest of the year.
This is a favorite scene.
Bria had only picked at her food until Dalton arrived. No way would she be able to eat more now. With her stomach churning so much, Bria felt physically ill. She pushed her plate toward the server. “I am.”
As soon as the server picked up the plates, Dalton removed two glossy folders.
Not to be outdone, Bria pulled out her analysis and gave it to her dad. “I didn’t know my father had hired anyone, so I only made one copy.”
Her dad laughed. “You both came prepared.”
She placed her hand on top of her knee to keep it from bouncing. “That’s what this meeting is about.”
“I put together the options we discussed to bring Bria up to date.” He handed her a folder. “See what you think.”
Bria opened it and nearly gasped at the table of contents. This information wasn’t something thrown together after a quick phone call with her dad yesterday. She closed the cover. “How long have you been working on this?”
“Almost two months.”
She’d had no reason to doubt what Charlene had said, but Dalton’s answer was proof. The fact her father had hired a guy before mentioning anything to her was an added betrayal.
Oh, Aunt Elise, he’s played you and me.
As Bria’s temper shot into the red zone, she took a breath and then stared at her father. “Why did you act surprised when Marc read the will? You knew Aunt Elise left you half of the cupcake shop, yet pretended as if you didn’t.”
Her father shrugged. “I realized you didn’t know, or you would have reached out before.”
“Before Elise died.”
Bria balled her fists. “I would have never discussed that before Aunt Elise was gone. I only talked about the cupcake shop with Missy after Elise went into hospice. It would have been inappropriate.”
Her father’s face went blank. “Someone needs to be reasonable about the cupcake shop.”
“Reasonable?” She lowered her voice and opened the folder. “Franchise opportunities. Building sale assessment. Nowhere do I see anything that says continue running the cupcake shop as Aunt Elise wanted.”
“Elise didn’t want to sell the shop?” Dalton asked, sounding surprised.
“No,” Bria said sharply. “She wanted Missy Hanford to manage and upgrade the shop. If you look at my analysis, you’ll see a breakdown of the costs as well as projected profits. It’s doable, and we’d both receive a decent monthly income after expenses.”
Dalton skimmed the pages she’d provided, but his face remained neutral. “You never mentioned keeping the cupcake shop, Brian.”
Her dad’s face flushed. “Elise is dead. Bria and I don’t live in Berry Lake. We can’t keep the cupcake shop operating as it is today. Besides, the value is in the building.”
Bria wanted to know her father’s intentions. Well, he’d laid them out as clear as the water in Berry Lake come springtime. It was as she feared— he didn’t care about the shop and her aunt’s legacy— but that didn’t stop her stomach from sinking and her aching heart to feel as if it had been used as a punching bag.
Dalton stared over her report. “Your father told me keeping the shop wasn’t an option.”
Of course, he did. “It’s the only option for me.”
Her dad rolled his eyes. “Be reasonable, Bria.”
“I am one hundred percent reasonable.” She kept her voice even. “You’re almost sixty. Social security payments will only go so far. You don’t have a 401K, but do you have a Roth IRA or a SEP? We can structure profit payments any way you want. Monthly or weekly, even.”
“I’d rather have my proceeds from selling the building, invest it, and double my money.”
So typical. “You could lose it all.”
His chin jutted forward. “That’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
Bria sat back in her chair. “I wonder what Elise would say.”
Her father did a double take. “Excuse me?”
“According to Charlene Culpepper, the only reason Elise left you fifty percent was to bring us closer.”
“She may have mentioned that.”
“You’re the one who called her and suggested she do this. It was you. Not her.”
Fear flashed in her father’s eyes, but a second later, he was back in control, sipping his coffee.
Bria had to get this out. “How can you talk about selling and investing and being okay with losing what she spent her life creating? Do you think she would have rewritten her will if she thought you would sell the building or franchise the bakery?”
A vein ticced at his jaw.
Bria didn’t expect him to answer. “You’ve ignored everything Elise wanted you to do. Instead of reaching out to me two months ago, you hired the one person I never wanted to see again. You act as if you’re doing this for me when it’s only about you.”
Dalton shifted, appearing uncomfortable. “Bria—”
“I’m sorry my father dragged you into this.” She looked at her father. “Aunt Elise wanted Missy to keep the cupcake shop going, and that’s what I will make sure happens with or without you.”
Her father’s face hardened. “Fifty percent of the cupcake shop belongs to me.”
“It will, but it doesn’t yet,” she countered.
“I have an idea.” Dalton flashed a tight smile. “Why don’t I review your numbers with your dad? In the meantime, gather up any blueprints or proposals you have on the upgrades Elise intended to make. We can meet tomorrow to discuss everything. Say at two o’clock at the cupcake shop?”
Bria had no idea where the plans were, but maybe Missy knew. “Fine.”
“Read what Dalton gave you.” Tight lines formed around her father’s mouth.
Her father handed her his report. Now she had two of them.
“It’s only polite after the work he put into this,” her father added.
A waste of time, too, but… “I can do that.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow,” her dad said.
Bria shoved the shiny folder into her laptop bag, left the other one for her dad, removed a twenty from her purse, and tossed it onto the table. She had no idea what kind of game her father was playing or what Dalton’s role in this was, but she didn’t trust either of them. No matter what it took, she would protect her aunt’s legacy from both men.
Melissa McClone. Cupcakes & Crumbs (Kindle Locations 2181-2241). Cardinal Press, LLC.
So much happens in this book, and it really takes off after that meeting. Dalton himself proves to be a surprise but there is so much more going on especially with Juliet and her husband.
Lot’s of laughter, tears, suspense and family drama in this book. I also have to wonder about Dalton and Bria as they start getting close again.
There are other couples we see in this book as well. Jenny and Dare, Hope and Josh, Sheridan and Michael they are all in the Indigo Bay Books. Links below.
I really can’t wait for the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
Melissa’s Books In Indigo Bay
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa 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.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!