Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cupcakes Aren't Just for Girls

My January 2014 Challenge Read: A Novella
Grade A-

More than anything else in the world, Allen Jameson likes to create cupcakes, so after his older partner dies, Allen takes some of the money he is left and opens a cupcake shop.  So begins Cupcakes by Sean Michael, the sweet, funny, and often poignant tale of starting over again.

Two years after Gary's death, Allen finally realizes his dream and opens his shop.  One day contractor Byron Bannigan hurries into the shop, frantic to get cupcakes for his office manager's going away party.  Even though they are very different--Allen is used to the staid, cultured life Gary provided for him--they are the same, both workaholics who love their jobs.

As they see more of each other in between their work responsibilities, Allen realizes that not only life but love can reappear suddenly and blossom.  But there's a snake ready to strike in their Eden, someone who doesn't want Allen's happiness.  Can he and Byron beat the snake at his own game?

What makes this novella compelling are the main characters who at first glance don't seem to be the types to look outside their milieu when seeking dates.  Both are good guys, the type of guys who work hard to make their dreams come to fruition.  They are the kinds of characters readers immediately bond with and wish well.

Their interactions also compel readers to like them.  These aren't flashy guys, but real people, the people we want to have in our neighborhoods.  Byron has designed and built his house from the ground up.  Allen has taken Gary's classic home in an established neighborhood and made it a show place.  Neither of them takes his possessions lightly.

Both are supportive of the other.  When Allen's business blossoms and he has more work than he knows what to do with, Byron pitches in to help, much to Allen's surprise.  Allen, for his part, becomes a sounding board for Byron at the end of the day, a companion who makes the stresses of the day dissipate.

This story works really well as a novella since except for the snake in the grass, the entire plot centers on Allen letting go of Gary and realizing that his life isn't over but has redirected to a new track.  It's a perfect book to lend someone who has lost a spouse and can only look backward and not forward.

And speaking for forward, I look forward to exploring more fiction written by Sean Michael, whose author biography is one of the strangest I've read in quite a while.

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