Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“‘God, you’re beautiful.’ He squeezes both of my hands. ‘You look like you were made for me.’ I squeeze back. ‘That’s because I am.'”
There are times in your life when you just need to laugh. Maybe it’s the stress of the day-to-day or maybe it’s something far more onerous. No matter the reason, laughing is INDEED the best medicine. I didn’t realize until Chapter 1 of Helena Hunting’s newest romance, Kiss My Cupcake, that I needed a good laugh. And every chapter after that chapter reminded me again why I adore her stories, why they make me swoon and chuckle and become awestruck by her ability to weave contemporary romance tropes with the type of humor that feels absurd at times but natural to real life. Since I stepped into her Pucked world, I have never turned back, and Kiss My Cupcake is more of the same type of humor you love from Helena Hunting.
This story follows two business owners. Blaire is opening a cupcake/Instagram-ready cocktails business. This woman is 1950s-inspired, driven, organized, and creative. Unbeknownst to Blaire, her business neighbor, the hipster-looking, Brawny man-inspired, Ronan, is in the process of reimagining and renovating his grandfather’s bar, The Knight Cap. From the moment these two meet, the sparks fly. Over time, these two enemies realize a partnership will save their businesses from a corporate, cookie-cutter bar. As they work together, those initial sparks are grounded more in chemistry than anything. However, these two are also competing for the title of Best Bar in the Pacific Northwest. Who will win? Even so, will Blaire and Ronan’s burgeoning romantic relationship survive?
From the start, I was all in with Blaire and Ronan. While seemingly opposites, these two are actually more alike than different. One is the yin to the other’s yang, and the initial disdain they feel for each other is simply kindling for a growing blaze of chemistry. And to be clear, this fire is a slow burn. A real slow burn. I think what I love about Hunting’s characterizations here is her need to build a story before that chemistry builds to a bonfire. It’s what I think makes her an exceptional writer. She recognizes that romance is built through a careful plodding of that chemistry-build, and it allows the reader to believe the relationship, even when some of the circumstances seem unbelievable. If you’re a fan of a steadily growing relationship, not a quick jump in the sack, then you WANT this book.
It’s so hard to say what I love most about this book because it all conspires to grab your heart. Blaire and Ronan’s characterizations and chemistry are obviously the best part. However, the families of both Blaire and Ronan add an additional layer of color. Gramps is my FAVORITE character of this story. With his Scottish accent and life lessons, you will fall madly for him. With Blaire’s family, Hunting illustrates how she’s set apart from other romance writers: the ludicrous finds its reality. When I read a Hunting romance, I belly-laugh. Kiss My Cupcake is no different. Yet, even between laughs, I’m caught up in the story of this book. Blaire and Ronan’s need to prove themselves, their burgeoning coupleship, and their eventual happy ending make this book the perfect afternoon (or evening or morning) read. This is the type of book you can sit outside with your favorite alcoholic beverage while the sun is high in the sky (or setting) and get lost. It’s really easy to do with Kiss My Cupcake.
When I began reading Helena Hunting’s newest book, I intended to use it as a shield of protection for my heart. I was reading another ARC with quite a bit of angst (something very different from Hunting’s stories), and I was going to read a couple of chapters of Kiss My Cupcake and a couple of chapters of the other book, alternating between the two. My hope was that Hunting’s book would save me from the anxious feelings that you feel when reading an angsty book. What happened was typical for me while reading one of Hunting’s romances: I couldn’t stop reading it. While the other book could hold my attention, I didn’t want to leave Blaire and Ronan because the hilarity, the storytelling, the characters, and the plot drew me in and suspended me. I found myself negotiating: “just a couple of more chapters” and I will take a break. After two hours, I finally resolved myself to keep reading until the end because Blaire and Ronan are quite magical. From unicorn martini glasses to va-jay-jay cupcakes to axe-throwing, plaid-wearing bartenders, Kiss My Cupcake is the perfect savior from the most horrible of days. Grab this one QUICK and fall in deep.
In love and romance,