TWO CONTESTS. ONE REVIEW. Barbara Bretton’s “Just Desserts”

Just Desserts Button 300 x 225

TWO Contests. TWO opportunities to win!! (That deserves TWO exclamation points)

TWO Kindle Paperwhites will be given away during Barbara Bretton’s “Just Desserts” Virtual Book Tour. (I want one!!!!) To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f453/

In addition to the tour wide contest, Barbara is also giving away TWO audio books at this blog (one book each to two winners – digital downloads – winner’s choice) . A list of available titles can be found at Audible http://goo.gl/29nRAU  To enter MY CONTEST, leave a comment following this post indicating what title you’d like and why.

Now on to my review of “Just Desserts”.

Just Desserts

Barbara Bretton

justdessertsfinalstandardGenre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: originally Berkley; this is a digital indie reprint

Date of Publication: print 2008; digital 2013

ISBN: 9781940665047

ASIN: B00G2EE306

Number of pages: approx. 320

Word Count: approx. 88000

Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill

Smashwords     Amazon    iTunes    BN

My Review:

What can I say about this heartwarming romance from USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Barbara Bretton, that hasn’t already been said? With accolades rolling in for JUST DESSERTS from esteemed reviewers and publications like Romance Reviews Today, Romantic Times and Midwest Book Review, what can one reader from Charlotte, North Carolina possibly write that would seem like a fresh take on a strong chorus of “Hallelujah”?

Then it occurred to me – I’m exactly the kind of reviewer that Barbara Bretton should . . . and does . . . want. A normal, every day person. A romance addict. A fan of her enormous talent and long list of delightful books.

So  here goes . . . JUST DESSERTS, originally published in 2008 by Berkley and recently released as a digital indie reprint, is a wonderfully chaotic tale of love and family.  I read the print version years ago and had just as much fun re-reading the digital version. Re-acquainting myself with Hayley Goldstein and Finn Rafferty was like visiting old friends I hadn’t seen in years.

This story offers a slightly different twist to contemporary romance by featuring “older” (as in, not twenty something) characters. But as always, Miss Bretton fills the pages with a delightful cast – realistic, full bodied, enchanting – and adds a dash of eccentricity for fun.

When Hayley is given the opportunity to bake a wedding cake for an aging rock star, she’s beyond excited, and it has nothing to do with the handsome lawyer who hired her, Finn Rafferty. Well, maybe it does. Just a little. But then Hayley discovers she’s the long, lost daughter of the rocker and demands some answers from her mother. Finn struggles to prevent a media frenzy while falling hard for divorced Hayley, who has constructed walls not even an Olympian could breech. Throw in some juicy family drama like Hayley’s 14 year old daughter trying to win her deadbeat dad’s love by giving him money, a cast of colorful secondary characters, and you have a book that will tug at your heart long after the last page is read.

Book Description

Hayley had sworn off bad boys until Finn Rafferty set out to win her heart…

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage had finally drummed the truth into her head. In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Hayley Maitland Goldstein knew all about how these things worked. First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

But then Finn Rafferty came into her life and everything changed.

Hayley should have seen the kiss coming but it surprised her just the same. He had been looking at her with a crazy kind of unfocused intensity and she had been about to ask him if he was having a stroke when she realized she was about to be kissed by a man she actually wanted to kiss back.

Every now and then life handed you a perfect moment but the secret was figuring out how to make it last.

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ7ruFHrV1I

Praise for Just Desserts 

“Very few romance writers create characters as well developed and realistic as Bretton’s. Her books pull you in and don’t let you leave until the last word is read.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Once again Bretton produces a wonderful, heartwarming story full of strong emotion, humor, charming pets, delightful characters and a lovely romance. There’s also a poignant secondary romance. The way Bretton brings all this to life and pulls it all together for a satisfactory conclusion are what make her a wonderful storyteller.”   —Susan Mobley, ROMANTIC TIMES

“Good pacing and dialogue make this warm-hearted story one that readers are sure to relish. The romances have both serious and funny elements. If you like light-hearted, feel good, romantic tales, you are sure to enjoy reading JUST DESSERTS.”  —Marilyn Heyman, ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY

“There are surprising, funny twists to this story and a lot of touching episodes to pique the emotional side. I found Barbara Bretton’s JUST DESSERTS to be highly entertaining, cleverly written and hard to put down. Being a witty and warm read, I recommend JUST DESSERTS and look forward to reading other novels by this author.” —Kay Quintin, FRESH FICTION

“If you’ve not ever read Ms. Bretton then you are in for a real treat with Just Desserts.” –Sandi, A Romance Review 

“Just Desserts is a fun, romantic read. I enjoyed it and recommend it for all those who like a great story filled with humor and romance.”–Victoria Kennedy, Midwest Book Review 

“JUST DESSERTS is a warm family drama filled with tender humor . . . Fans will appreciate Barbara Bretton’s invasion of South Jersey as everyone receives their JUST DESSERTS.” —Harriet Klausner, Genre Go-Round Reviews

“Ms. Bretton gives her readers an easy, yet not bland, story with wonderful, vibrant characters and wholly believable situations. You’ll want her backlist in your library, if it’s not there already.”--Amanda Killgore, Huntress’ Book Reviews

Excerpt:

Trish, one of the high school girls Hayley was currently mentoring, burst into the kitchen looking like she had just bumped into Justin Timberlake and then ricocheted off Johnny Depp.

“There’s two guys outside who want to see you and they’re unbelievably hot!” Trish was seventeen, the age when the arrival of any biped with a Y chromosome rated a breathless announcement. “One of them looks like a rock star from, you know, way back in the eighties.”

Ouch. She had been Trish’s age in the eighties.

“A rock star?” she asked, lifting a brow. Rock stars were in short supply in Lakeside.

“A rock star,” Trish confirmed. “And he’s wearing leather.”

There was only one reason an aging leather-clad hottie would show up at Goldy’s Bakery at three o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon and it had nothing to do with brownies, cheesecake, or bagels.

“Tell him Mr. Goldstein doesn’t live here anymore.” And that Mrs. Goldstein couldn’t be happier about it. Not even sending him his monthly share of the store’s profits dimmed her joy.

“But he didn’t ask for Mr. Goldstein. He asked for you.”

Why did that surprise her? She was the Goldstein with a bank balance, after all. It had been a while since someone had come looking for her ex but the knot in her stomach was painfully familiar. The faint stench of danger still lingered in the air. She wished she had a dollar for every angry enabler who had shown up at Goldy’s in search of the reluctant Mr. Goldstein. She’d be able to buy him out once and for all and still have money to spare.

“Then tell him I’m not here.”

“But, Mrs. G., I already told him you were.”

“Then tell him the truth,” she said. “I’m busy working on a cake that should have been finished an hour ago. I can’t spare a second.” And here she’d thought her life would settle down after Michael moved to Florida to mooch off his mother. The man’s problems had the half-life of uranium.

Trish rearranged her pretty features into an even prettier frown. “He really wants to see you, Mrs. G. Maybe—”

Hayley could feel the hot breath of the Cumberland County Association of Female Realtors on the back of her neck. She whipped out The Look, the same look every mother on the planet had down cold, aimed it in Trish’s direction, then hoped for the best.

“I’ll tell him,” Trish mumbled, then pushed through the swinging door to deliver the bad news.

The Look had stopped working on Lizzie when she was seven, but it was nice to know she still had enough maternal firepower at her command to keep her young staff in line.

She pressed her ear against the swinging door but she couldn’t make out Trish’s words, just a high apologetic string of female sounds that was followed by a male rumble. Leather Boy had a good voice, baritone, a little smoky. She couldn’t make out his words either but Trish’s answering giggle conjured up some painful memories of herself at that age.

First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

She listened closer. Trish said something girly. Leather Boy rumbled something manly. This time Rachel, her other counter girl for the week, giggled too, a sound that sent Hayley’s maternal early-warning system into overdrive.

Rachel Gomez was a serious straight-A student bound for Princeton next year on full scholarship. She needed the paycheck more than any mentoring Hayley might have provided her. Rachel had probably never giggled before in her life.

If Rachel giggled, then even Lizzie might not be immune. Fourteen was when it started, that fizzy sensation in your veins, the yearning for things you couldn’t define, the sudden realization that boys were infinitely more interesting than global warming or the fate of the humpback whale.

Fourteen was also when young girls parted company with their self-confidence and traded in their love of math and science for a date for the prom.

Sometimes she wanted to lock Lizzie away in her room with her computer, her books, and a cell phone (maybe), and not let her out again until she was twenty-one. Thirty sounded better but even fantasies had their limits. The advisor at Olympia Prep had suggested that Lizzie might be better served intellectually by skipping the rest of high school and starting college in the fall but Hayley was dead set against it. Lizzie might be brilliant when it came to science but when it came to life, she was still only fourteen.

The world could be a scary place. A mother did her best to protect her kid from fast cars, drunk drivers, broken bones, flu, the common cold, but there was nothing she could do to protect her kid from growing up. No matter what you did or how well you did it, your little girl wasn’t going to stay a little girl. Right before your eyes she was going to grow up on you anyway and all you could do was pray she didn’t follow in your foolish footsteps.

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage to Michael Goldstein had finally drummed the truth into her head. People didn’t change with time. They just became more of who they were to begin with.

In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Why didn’t women teach their young how to cope with the things that were really important instead of how to walk in their first pair of heels? Why didn’t they make a point of sitting their girl children down and telling them the truth about men instead of letting some guy in a leather jacket seduce them over a tray of black-and-white cookies?

That was one of the many reasons why she had helped institute the mentoring program at the high school. Lizzie claimed her overflow worrying needed an outlet but it went far deeper. She saw herself in those girls, insecure, struggling, hungry for love, and ready to hand over their futures to the first guy who came along.

Those idiot girls out there were like ripe fruit on a very low-hanging branch. The slightest breeze would be enough to shake them from the tree and into the waiting arms of Leather Boy or someone just like him and their entire lives would be changed forever.

Except it wasn’t going to happen on her watch. With apologies to the good real estate agents of Cumberland County, it was time to prepare for battle.

About the Author: 

brettonOh, how I hate bios! All of that deadly dull information about name (Barbara Bretton) and date of birth (June 25) and geographical data (born in New York City; lives near Princeton, NJ), marital status (many years married), and hobbies (who has time??). How do you gather up all of those dull, dry facts and turn them into something interesting?

No wonder I tell lies for a living.

I considered weaving a story for you about life on a houseboat on the French Riviera. Or maybe my years as a concubine, hidden away in a golden pleasure palace in the shimmering desert. Then I decided to do the unthinkable and tell you the truth.

When I sold my first book and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, “We want to buy your book.” How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I’d sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.

I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true — and came with a $6000 advance!

He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn’t have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.

A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I’ve learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I’ve also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks.

I fell madly in love with Skye O’Malley in early 1982 and wrote an unabashedly gushy fan letter to our beloved Bertrice Small. By the time Sunny answered, I had joined the ranks of the published and Sunny became friend and mentor, guide and confidant. She has held my hand through broken dreams, disappointments, family illnesses, and accepted my bizarre need to go underground from time to time with great affection and understanding. Over the years I’ve come to understand the difference between the writer and her work, that loving the book doesn’t guarantee that I will love the author. But what a joy it is when you discover that the author of a beloved favorite is even more wonderful and witty and wise than the characters she creates.

So this bio is for you, Sunny, for being the best of friends during the worst of times and — even more wonderful — during the good times as well.

And now for the statistics:

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.

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About Debra S. Sanders

Debra is an RV nomad, traveling full time with her husband, dog and cat. She writes, hikes, star gazes and explores myth, lore and curiosities from America's back roads. She also indulges in colorful sunsets and good wine.

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