My Thoughts in a Nutshell
The moment I realized that the common factor in these four stories was cake, I was hooked! On their own they are each quite short, but when put together, they are wrapped up in a neat little holiday package of wonder and joy! These stories made me laugh, tear up a bit and above all, they made me hungry for two things; pastries and love!
Overall, I loved all of the stories and especially loved the way that cake was threaded throughout each one! I recommend you give yourself the time to read only one story a day, or at least give yourself a break in between to fully absorb each one before moving on to the next.
Petit Four Four Stories, Frosted with Love
Written by Cindy Arora, Lucie Simone, Sue Watson & Joel Zlotnik
Publication Date: November 7, 2014 by Simon & Fig
Cake is often a major part of life’s celebrations, both big and small. From birthdays to wedding days, cake, in all its delectable concoctions, marks joyous occasions with a sweetness that can’t be beat. But even better is the love that is shared when two people connect over a sweet confection. Maybe it’s a cute new guy wreaking havoc on a broken heart, or a beautiful woman testing the limits of love, or an old beau stirring up long lost desires. Whatever the circumstances, cake can always be relied upon to save the day when it comes to affairs of the heart. In this collection of short stories, cake is the delicious center around which each tale unfolds and romance blooms.
When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.
From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love.
Sitting here staring at my computer screen, I wonder where to start. I find that it’s more difficult to do justice to so many great stories rather than when I’m writing about just one, but I’ll do my best! I’ll give you a short blurb about each story and then give you an overview of what I took away from reading them.
Sue Watson is the only author out of the four that I’ve read prior to reading ‘Petit Four’ and she was the reason that I was dying to read this collection of short stories. Her writing style is lively, entertaining and always has a dash of cake for good measure! Because I’ve read a few of her novels, I had high expectations not only for her story, but for all four stories. I am happy to report that I was more than satisfied with the entire set of stories and highly recommend Petit Four, along with all of the authors’ other writings to you.
Prior to reading Petit Four, I hadn’t read many short stories written about topics that interested me but the moment I realized that the common factor in these stories was cake, I was hooked! On their own they are each quite short, but when put together, they are wrapped up in a neat little holiday package of wonder and joy!
When I have a novel that’s under 300 pages, I generally read through it in a day or two depending on how busy my personal life is at the moment. I decided to change things up. Instead of devouring these four stories in the course of an afternoon-with a high likelihood of the stories meshing into one jumble in my mind-I decided to practice restraint and only read one story a day. Throughout the four days, I realized that this is certainly the way to go! I was able to fully devote my attention to the story at hand and really let the message sink in after finishing it, rather than jumping right into the next one. Now, on to the story descriptions!
Aprez Vous by Lucie Simone
From a tiny apartment in New York City to the decadent pastries and twinkling lights of Paris comes a story about Tara; a strong, independent woman that takes her niece on vacation as a graduation gift and as a result, is faced with the possibility of a rekindled love. I loved the characters and relationships that were written about in this story, especially Tara’s relationship with her niece. I would love to see a spin-off novel about Tara’s sister Meg with a bit of a focus on her niece Marissa.
Reading this story made my mouth water for so many different treats, but especially creme brûlée! ‘You know how it is. Certain foods are nostalgic.’ That’s so true! I love how certain foods can bring back such strong memories for people. One of the first delicacies that is mentioned is something called a ‘petit four’, small little cakes, ‘like tiny presents you can eat!’ I’ve never had anything quite so small and adorable and I wonder if you can find one that would come close to the decadence of the ones in the story in Paris.
One of the main things I took from this story is that often times we make assumptions about the way others’ live their lives without truly understanding how things are for them and it’s important to dig deeper with compassion. Another strong message made was that it’s never too late to start over and let the possibility of true love into your life. I look forward to reading more of Simone’s work. At times this story made me laugh, made me tear up and it definitely made me hungry for two things; pastries and love!
Cake Therapy by Cindy Arora
Although they initially start off on the wrong foot, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter ‘Tammy the Terror’ and staff reporter Olivia Cisneros are now the best of friends. Tammy’s major sweet tooth and love of cake from Dixie Bakery turned out to be exactly what both women needed to create a strong bond of friendship both at work and in their personal lives.
When Tammy is no longer in the picture, Olivia must deal with the reporter’s replacement. But the ‘new Tammy’ is a he?! How will Olivia learn to cope without her best friend by her side, especially with caring for a six-year-old at home? Olivia is forced to make new work friends and begins to take the necessary steps to open herself to the possibility of love.
This was a heart warming story about learning to move on and living life to the fullest. One of the main messages I took from reading this is that it’s important to introduce yourself to new things that make you happy in order to allow yourself to live a life filled with Joy. In order to move on you must open yourself to the possibility of love and it’s ok to lean on a friend to help you get to that point in your life and where you want to be.
The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam by Sue Watson
This one in particular made me desperately crave cake, as there is a generous selection of cake throughout the story. For goodness sake the main character Milly not only dreams about cake, but she’s also a waitress in a bakery called ‘Victoriana Tea Rooms’. My mind was reeling from cake overload-but in the very best way! She works for a despicable woman that seems to think that Milly is a talentless, worthless employee but thankfully the new management is able to distinguish the employees’ individual talents and passions.
I connected with many aspects of Milly’s character. One of my favorite things about Milly was that she has a passion for baking and has a blog to showcase her talents. Through Sue’s writing, I feel a true connection not only to her characters and the story, but to her as an individual. There are certain viewpoints of the characters’ during certain situations that make me feel like she gets me. Hypocrites are one of my biggest pet peeves and there is a point in the story that you realize that she must also despise people that can’t manage to follow the rules that they set out and expect others to follow.
In keeping with Watson’s writing style, this was an adorable story about how things aren’t always as they seem and that it’s important to not make assumptions about things you don’t understand. One of my favorite things in the story-besides the cake!-was the new manager’s capacity to recognize the good in others and channel their talents into something greater. I thought it was a lovely message about appreciating the people around you and seeing the good in others. Another win from Watson!
Her Charms by Joel Zlotnik
This is a story about love, politics and…. yup, you guessed it, cupcakes! At the ripe age of forty-six, Scott Lyons once had the pleasure of falling in love and getting married when he was young, but tragedy struck and sadly he lost the love of his life. Although we find him years later Scott-who is now the Mayor of small town Ola Vista-is forced to rethink his political aspirations when a fiery, beautiful woman comes into his life with plans to bring a little something new to the small town. Nicole intends to open a lingerie shop called ‘Her Charms’, right in full visibility on Main Street. As you can imagine, many of the older folks are less than supportive of her new store popping up in town. Will Scott defend Nicole and her blossoming business or will he choose his political career over his own personal happiness?
One of the messages I took from this story is that thinking about the past is only good if it helps you move on or improve your life for the better. It’s not good to always live in the past, thinking about all of the things that used to be. It’s important to allow yourself to open your heart and live life to the fullest. This was a cute story about the choices people make in order to allow themselves to move forward with the life that they’ve created for themselves. I adored the way cupcakes played a role in this story and especially loved the cute notes and charms that went along with them.
Having previously worked in the Lingerie department at Nordstrom for three years, bras and panties are kind of my thing. Add a strong, independent ‘cupcake lady’ and you’ve got yourself a great mix. I didn’t realize until I finished this particular story that almost every single novel I read is written by a woman and as a result, is written with a viewpoint of a woman. It was a fun change to read a story written by a male author and I enjoyed getting a little male perspective while still enjoying a little romance.
Overall, I loved all of the stories and especially loved the way that cake was threaded throughout each one! Again, I recommend you give yourself the time to read only one story a day, or at least give yourself a break in between to fully absorb each one before moving on to the next. Each one reads through in about an hour and I suggest that you sit and read them in their entirety for maximum enjoyment.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thank you to Kim Nash and Simon & Fig for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review!
About the Authors
Author’s About Me from her website cindyarora.com:
I’m the mama of an adorable little boy who makes my heart melt every day. | I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years which means I still carry notepads in my back pocket, stick pens behind my ears and have been known to call the police department in the middle of the night to report a “perp.” | I’ve worked as a bartendar, cocktail waitress, shot girl, banquet server, ham carver, fromager, pastry assistant and coffee mistress. | I’m a native Angeleno and totally normal.
My favorite kind of pie is cherry. | I love anything wrapped in puff pastry. | I think cupcakes are ridiculously cute and always will. | I don’t date vegetarians. But I will go to music festivals with them. | I have two beautiful and creative sisters. www.lashoegirl.com and www.bohoupcycle.com
I feel happiest living by the ocean. But don’t. Such is life. | I love happy endings. | The first book that made me realize I wanted to write about love and a girl’s journey was Fifteen by Beverly Clearly. | I am not afraid of calling myself a feminist, a chick lit writer or a whiskey enthusiast.
Cindy Arora was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register and Sacramento Magazine. She’s been published in Saveur, Tasting Table, Orange Coast Magazine and Fodor’s.
Heartbreak Cake is her debut novel.
About Lucie from her website luciesimone.com:
Lucie Simone has a passion for travel, yoga, and writing. She has a degree in Journalism, a Master of Fine Arts in Television Production, and is a certified yoga teacher. Her love of comedy (and living under the delusion that she might one day be an actress) resulted in a stint studying improvisation, which, ironically enough, taught her to be a better writer.
Her short story, A Taste of Italy, won the New York Book Festival competition for best ebook and is a bestseller at Amazon UK. The release of her debut novel, Hollywood Ending, a romantic comedy about life in Hollywood for the not-so-rich-and-famous, marked the launch of her small press, Simon & Fig, which publishes Chick Lit, Lad Lit and Women’s Fiction exclusively.
Lucie lives, loves and writes in the City of Angels, but considers New York City her second home and visits as often as her bank account will allow.
I was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC I worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day I might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.
After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, I left my life in TV to write. My first novel was Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes about a woman struggling with weight, work, marriage and motherhood. My second novel Younger, Thinner, Blonder, is about a talk show host who has the perfect ‘Hello Magazine’ life… or does she?
My latest novel, Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is about hairdresser Faye Dobson, who’s lost her sparkle. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi Fountain and having sex under the stars. But her wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is only for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza. Can Faye get her life back before it’s too late?
Joel Zlotnik is a former Southern California journalist who was lucky enough to find a second career on the other side of the notepad, answering questions instead of asking them. He recently cancelled his cable so he would write more and quickly discovered online binge watching. You can find him living at the beach in South Orange County, where he listens to records, reads and watches the waves.