Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dreams derailed can bring about disappointment, disarray, and anger. Lots and lots of anger. What do we do when we expected a certain life for ourselves, and instead, we are handed a big fat pile of dung? This is the premise of Jiffy Kate’s newest book, Stud Muffin, a SmartyPants Romance featuring the Donner Bakery.
Tempest is the Duchess of Muffins. She’s living the dream: loves her job, her husband, and her life. Except she’d like a child, and that isn’t coming easily. One day, when her conceiving temperature is right for conception, she runs home to her husband to find him…in bed with the high school mean girl. At that moment, Tempest lives up to her name in that she creates a tempest of her own out of anger over her now broken marriage. Over and over again, Tempest finds herself in trouble because she struggles to control her anger and lacks control over the dissolution of her dreams. As a consequence of her legal trouble, the judge presiding over her case requires her to go to anger management classes. And it’s the first step in healing and accepting that life can change in an instant.
Enter Cage Erickson, a retired UFC fighter. Cage is also mourning the dissolution of his dreams. He’s been forced to retire early from UFC fighting due to a career-ending injury. He’s rudderless, but his friend, Hank, offers him a job as a bouncer at his strip club, the Pink Pony. This is an opportunity for Cage to get away from his life in Dallas to figure out his next steps. One night, Tempest visits the Pink Pony. There to celebrate her divorce, she becomes very drunk, and Cage is tasked with getting her home safely. He is instantly enamored with her. Over time, these two build a friendship. Cage decides to help Tempest deal with her anger through kickboxing. This provides Tempest with an outlet along with her anger management classes, and it affords Cage the opportunity to find his future: opening a training facility in Green Valley. As these two spend time together, their feelings grow stronger; however, are their pasts too much for these two to find their future together?
Honestly, I fell in love with Jiffy Kate’s heroine the minute she began destroying her bedroom in the face of her husband’s infidelity. Tempest is a woman who trusted her husband deeply, and he failed her. Jiffy Kate create this palpable anger on the page that you can’t help but feel her despair, anger, and sadness at that moment. In fact, throughout her story, every time Asher, Tempest’s ex-husband, and Mindy, his mistress, enter the story, I felt Tempest’s feelings. Through her characterization, you cannot help but feel her pain and her sadness over broken dreams. My heart wrenched for her because Jiffy Kate make it so. To me, this is indelible writing. It’s the type of writing that keeps you remembering the story long after the book is complete. Tempest is THAT type of heroine. Her pain and subsequent journey towards healing write their words on your heart. When she allows her happy ending, it’s with relief that she’s found new dreams and a new future with, quite frankly, a much better, more attractive man. This is the power behind Jiffy Kate’s Stud Muffin: the ability to feel the emotions of their heroine.
In Cage Erickson, you will find the best kind of hero. This is a man whose dreams have also been shattered, like Tempest’s, outside of his control. He had hoped to retire a storied winning fighter, but life interceded and his dream has to be rewritten. His journey mirrors many of our own. We create expectations for our lives, but instead, life interrupts those plans and changes our course. It doesn’t make us better or worse necessarily; it simply means change and reimagining a different outcome. Besides the impact of his journey on readers as a mirror to their own experiences, Jiffy Kate characterize him as swoony. This is a man who, prior to Tempest, engages in one-night stands. He’s not looking for relationships. He’s known heartbreak in the past, and he forgoes attachments as a protection to his heart. With Tempest, though, he becomes dreamy. He recognizes her innate qualities as someone who cares deeply for others. He sees her inner beauty along with her outer beauty, and he adores her pretty much from the beginning. In fact, if anyone is going to be heartbroken first, it will be Cage because he wants “more” with her, but she requires healing in order for them to have a future. Since he adores her, he guides her, he acknowledges her pain, he indulges her physically, and he showers kindness and compassion over her, sometimes to his own sacrifice. This is why Cage and Tempest’s characters shine in this story. Their connection and friendship are my favorite parts of the book.
I’ve been extolling the virtues of Stud Muffin all over social media for the past two weeks. It’s really a simple story: a scorned woman finding herself while finding love with a man who loves and adores her deeply. Add in some delicious muffin baking, a couple of villainous characters, and a town full of colorful characters, and you’ve got Jiffy Kate’s story. Yet, below its surface, there really is a reminder. We can heal after disappointment, we can find love again, and we can dream new dreams, as long as we are open to rewriting them. If you love a little sadness, a little humor, and little passion, then you really should be reading Stud Muffin.
In love and romance,