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Sugar Rush: A Cupcake Club Romance

Donna Kauffman

ISBN 9780758266347
Publish Date 12/27/2011
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Brava, Contemporary
Currently out of stock

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Devil's Food. . .Angel Cake. . .Red Velvet. . .Praline Crunch. . .Lemon Chiffon. . . How's a woman to choose?

Luckily, the members of the Cupcake Club are about to taste it all. . .

When baker extraordinaire Leilani Trusdale left the bustle of New York City for Georgia's sleepy Sugarberry Island, she didn't expect her past to follow. Yet suddenly, her former boss, Baxter Dunne, aka Chef Hot Cakes, the man who taught her everything pastry, wants to film his hit cooking show in her tiny cupcakery. The same Chef Hot Cakes whose molten chocolate brown eyes and sexy British accent made Lani's mouth water and her cheeks blush the color of raspberry filling--stirring all kinds of kitchen gossip, much of which Lani wished was true. . .

Lani's friends are convinced that this time around, Baxter is the missing ingredient in her recipe for happiness. But convincing Lani will be a job for Baxter himself. And he'll need more than black velvet frosting to sweeten the deal. . .

"Donna Kauffman writes smart and sexy, with sizzle to spare!" --Janet Evanovich

"Deliciously sexy!" –Carly Phillips

Recipes included!

"Leilani Trusdale spends 10 years training with charming but tough chef Baxter "Hot Cakes” Dunne, taking over his New York City pastry shop when he leaves to host a cooking show. When she finally escapes the city to open a cupcake shop in her father’s tiny hometown of Sugarberry Island, Ga., Baxter turns up, natch, to start his show’s traveling season, with a secondary agenda of romancing Leilani. The tension leads Leilani to revive her old bake therapy sessions with her best friend, Charlotte, adding Leilani’s quiet new assistant and a lovable town gossip to lend support, share opinions, and add sugar as members of the Cupcake Club. The ladies of Sugarberry will be delightful companions to look forward to in future stories, and readers can bake along with the included cupcake recipes.” --Publishers Weekly

"The opening novel of Kauffman's Cupcake Club series is as sweet and adorable as its namesake treat." -- (Starred Review, Pick of the Week) Publisher's Weekly

"Sugar Rush is a playful, sensual, laugh-inducing read. But there's so much more to the story. Kauffman's book chronicles profound character growth and offers layer upon layer of authentic, life-changing conflict. . . . it's a good thing Sugar Rush is only the first in a series, because the residents of Sugarberry -- especially the delightfully oddball members of the Cupcake Club -- will lure you back to their island again and again." - -- Kathy Altman, USA Today/Happily Ever After

"Fans of cupcakes and TV chefs will like this first installment of the Cupcake Club back-to-back romance series that comes with recipes. For those looking for more, not to worry -- this isn't a light, spun-sugar tale. It has more substance, like a rich chocolate ganaches. The suprorting characters are delightful and one hopes they will appear in future books." -- 4 Stars, Joyce Morgan, RT Book Reviews

"I can't get enough of this new town, characters and the romances that have bloomed and will continue to bloom in this new series." -- Lush Book Reviews

"It's like blending the Food Network together with CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC. . ."-- (4 Hearts!) Megan, Book Brat Reviews

"A fun romantic read for the serious baker, the not-so-serious baker, and the buy-your-cupcakes type of reader (like me)!. Kudos to the first Cupcake Club Romance with recipes included at the end!" --Valerie Burleigh, Romancing the Book Reviews

"This is a delicious story about true love and cupcakes that is just as sweet as any treat but won't ruin your New Year's resolutions! The characters are great and there's even a few recipes of delicious cupcakes to try (those might ruin a few resolutions, though.)" --Amy Phelps, Parkersburg News and Sentinel

"Kauffman writes crisp, emotionally charged dialogue... Sugar Rush is a sweet, delicious romance fortified with mouth-watering cupcake recipes." --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines,

"SUGAR RUSH is a quirky, fun tale with Leilani and Baxter learning to really get to know each other while surrounded with several eclectic characters that provide for some humorous interaction. The chemistry between Leilani and Baxter is slow to grow at first, but once they kiss, their attraction for each other begins to smolder out of control. Will they make it work? Find out for yourself in the delightful SUGAR RUSH." --Patti Fischer, Romance Reviews Today

"Donna Kauffman has brought a sugary sweet romance in her latest, Sugar Rush. Set on a small, rural Georgia island with lovable quirky townsfolk, this novel delves into the age-old question, "What the heck are men thinking?" It's a fun read with lots of yummy goodness thrown in and a sexy romance to drool over while eating that forbidden cupcake." --Lani Roberts, Affaire de Couer magazine

Chapter One

It was the cupcakes that saved her. Leilani Trusdale thought about that as she carefully extracted the center from the final black forest cupcake, then set the corer aside and picked up the pastry bag of raspberry truffle filling. She breathed in the mingled scents of dark chocolate and sweet berries. It was inspiring, really, how much power a single, sweet cup of baked deliciousness could wield. Cupcake salvation.

Lani shifted the tip into position. “So, it’s all on you, my tasty little friends. Work your magic. Heal me now.” She focused intently—fiercely, even—on her way to piping the precise amount of filling into each and every one of the one hundred and fifty-six cupcakes that lined the racks on the stainless steel worktable in front of her—which was totally unnecessary. The fierce focusing, not the filling. She could fill a table of cupcakes blindfolded. In her sleep. With one hand tied behind her back. Possibly on one foot. She’d never done it, but she’d take the bet.

Of course, there were other things she’d never done before— big things, important things—that she’d also taken the bet on. And those bets had all paid off. Every last one. So, she should feel confident, right? About this most recent bet. This huge, ridiculous gamble that kept her awake every night, wondering what in the hell she’d been thinking.

Had she been completely insane, walking away from the career she’d slaved actual blood, sweat, and many, many tears to construct in New York City, to start over on little Sugarberry Island and open her own shop?

Who did that?

“I did,” she said out loud, rather defiantly, hoping the statement alone would inspire confidence. It wasn’t like she couldn’t go back to New York if all else failed. She hadn’t hated her life there. Exactly. So, she had a backup plan . . . if absolutely necessary.

Her cell phone buzzed in her chef’s jacket pocket. Frowning, she set the pastry bag down and wiped her hands before digging it out. Only one person would be calling her at the crack of dawn. She hit the mute button on the stereo remote, silencing the cantina band from the Star Wars soundtrack—everyone had their own mix tape, hers just happened to be made up of her favorite movie theme song hits—then touched SPEAKERPHONE before propping it on the worktable. “Hey, Charlotte,” Lani said in greeting. “What’s up, besides us pastry chefs?” She picked up the bag again and went back to work, too antsy to stand still and chat.

Antsy, and angry.

“You sound awake,” Charlotte said, “which means you’re in the kitchen.”

“Where else would I be?”

“You live in Georgia now—where even pastry chefs probably sleep past five AM.”

“Not if they want to get their product baked and frosted before opening, they don’t.”

“You’re not in Atlanta. How many cupcakes could the entire island of Sugarberry consume in a day?”


“Answer me this. How many racks of cupcakes are in front of you right now?”

Lani didn’t answer. On the grounds that the truth would totally incriminate her. Friends could, occasionally, be a pain in the butt. Especially best friends. They knew too much.

“Chocolate?” Charlotte prodded.

Lani sighed. “One hundred fifty-six. Black forest.” At Charlotte’s continued silence, she sighed again. “Okay, okay. With raspberry truffle filling. And Dutched chocolate ganache frosting.”

“Oh no, I’m too late! You already heard.”

“I have to make these.” Lani tried not to sound defensive, knowing she failed even as she said the words. “They’re for the Kiwanis Club.”

“What on earth is a Kiwanis?” Charlotte asked. “Never mind. I don’t think I want to know. Much less why they’re congregating in clubs.”

“It’s all part of the annual fall festival here,” Lani explained. “It starts with a huge community dinner tonight. The Kiwanis raises money for local civic improvements, so I’m contributing cupcakes to help the cause.”

“Good heavens, Lan, you’re working . . . what, bake sales now? Is it going so badly as all that?” The lilt of Charlotte’s Indian accent came through a little stronger than usual. It always did whenever she was upset.

“Your confidence is inspiring. It’s not like I’m helping the high school glee club earn money at a table in front of the local grocery store. I’m doing signature cupcakes in boxed sets as part of a huge auction they’ll hold as a kickoff event after the dinner. The people here support me. I’m happy to do it. Plus, it’s good marketing. And the Kiwanis Club I’m sponsoring is going to donate all the money they earn from their auction entries to expand and improve the youth and senior centers.”

“See, the fact that you need to keep your youths and seniors in centers is a big part of what concerns me about this sudden life shift,” Charlotte replied. “But we’ve had that little talk. As long as you think you need to be on your little island in the middle of nowhere, you know I am your biggest cupcake cheerleader.”

Lani did know that. Charlotte might not understand, but she did her best to support. “You really need to come down here, Char. You’ll see. This town is like living inside a sustained, continual group hug. You can’t believe what it’s like to have such loyal support. I mean, I know it’s mostly because I’m a Harper, and my great-grandmother was revered here, but they’re very sincere about it. And it just feels . . . well, great, actually. Come down. Feel the Sugarberry love. You’ll understand then, I know you will. You never know, you might even stay.” Lani smiled. If you could hear a person shudder, she was pretty sure she’d heard Charlotte do just that. “I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. At the moment, however, we have more important things to discuss. I didn’t think you’d already know. That’s why I called so early. I wanted to get to you first. Are you okay?”

Lani squeezed a bit harder on the pastry bag than necessary, but managed to keep from making a raspberry truffle volcano out of the next cupcake. She didn’t pretend to not know what Char was talking about. “I’m fine.” Total lie, and one Charlotte wouldn’t buy for a second. Especially given the black forest and Dutched ganache. Dead giveaway, really. “How in the world do you know? I just read about it in our little local daily less than an hour ago.” Which was why, less than an hour later, she was filling cupcakes as if her life depended on it.

“I’m still in New York, remember? We know everything first. Franco told me this morning when he came in. He’s here helping me with setups. We’re catering a champagne gala at the Lincoln tonight. It’s crazed.”

“Bon matin, ma chиre!” came Franco’s shout from somewhere in the distance, via the speakerphone.

The accent affectation never ceased to amuse Lani. Franco was definitely tall, dark, and swarthy. He was the youngest from a family of seven with six older sisters, and just about the best gay boyfriend a girl could hope to have. But he’d been born Franklin Ricci and raised in the Bronx. He was about as French as baseball and Mom’s apple pie. Still, he somehow made it work.

“Bonjour, mon ami,” Lani said, warmed by his always cheerful voice, feeling anything but, herself.

“Before you ask,” Char said, “Franco got the news last night from a production assistant on Baxter’s show he’s been hot after for a month now. I had to tell you the second I heard. It’s not out for public consumption—yet—so it’s not national news.”

“It will be international news when we finally get together, ma chиre,” Franco crooned. “And we will. Like the finest Belgian chocolate with French vanilla filling. Mmm mmm. For private consumption only.” His rich laughter echoed into Lani’s kitchen.

“Seriously, Franco,” Char scolded him. “No one cares about your latest conquest. We’re in a state of emergency here.”

“Almost conquest. And it’s true love, this time, chйrie,” Franco said with a wistful, dramatic sigh. “Or could be.”

“What else do you know about this?” Lani asked, feeling a bit sick, along with antsy and angry. “What exactly did you find out, Franco?”

“Not much,” he said, dropping the accent momentarily. “Just that production is gearing up to start filming the next season on location in Sugarberry. I made the connection immediately, of course, but no one else is saying anything about it. Or you. At least not that I’ve heard. At the moment, Baxter’s website and the show website are touting the third season, which launches this week. Baxter is going around doing all the standard promo for the season premiere, but it’s only a matter of time before he mentions the next season, since it’s going into production this week, too. His ratings are so high there’s a lot of buzz about the major networks trying to steal him away for his own daytime show. Apparently, his network execs are pushing like mad to get him going, filming this next season. They want to get all the sponsors inked early on, before the rumors get out of hand.” Franco came closer to Charlotte’s phone. “Brenton told me they’re going to make a big splash about the season premiere on the morning talks all this week. Someone will get him to spill.”

“Brenton?” Lani asked. “Really, Franco?”

“It’s adorable on him, trust me,” he said, all Bronx now. “Listen, Baxter is supposedly doing a surprise spot on Today tomorrow. And honey, you know Hoda and Kathy Lee will be all over him, because—straight or gay—who wouldn’t be? They’ll bring up the network rumors, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he mentions that he’s already begun the next season of filming, just to squash the buzz. Word is going to get out, ma chиre. Of course they’ll make the connection as it’s the only one to make. It’s only a matter of time.”

Charlotte came back on the line. “We just wanted to give you a heads-up, Lan. I didn’t want you hearing about it from anyone else. How did it make your little local paper before making the entertainment news here?”

“Ask Baxter.” Lani was certain he was behind the personal little news bulletin. He was nothing if not a master at controlling the whims of his own fate. The question she still had no answer for was why? Why was he doing this? Any of it? She said as much out loud.

“I don’t know,” Charlotte responded. “But, like Franco said, your name hasn’t come up in conversation amongst the crew or production, so I don’t think anyone else has made the connection yet.”

“Well, I’m not news, entertainment or otherwise, so why would anyone on the set care? The only one who will be bothered by this whole thing is me. I just don’t understand what possible explanation he used for wanting to set his show here on Sugarberry, of all places.”

“Lani,” Franco said, butting back in, “you know it’s not coincidence. I don’t know what he told his bosses, but they obviously went for it. There has to be a hook, don’t you think? And the hook has to be you.”

“But, why? Just because I worked for him?”

“You know better than that. The world might not care now, but you know it’s only a matter of time before it’s all out there. Any news that includes Chef Hot Cakes being interested in a woman—particularly one he worked with, mentored, and handed over the running of his beloved shop to . . . and about whom there was some pretty juicy gossip back in the day—is not just going to be any news. It’s going to be the news.”

The very suggestion made Lani’s stomach sink further. Just like it had, regularly, “back in the day.” Those days had mercifully ended ten months ago. She wanted to keep it that way. “There’s nothing to get out. Come on, you and Char know that better than anyone. There was never any substance to those rumors. Most definitely not from Baxter’s perspective. You two are the only ones who ever knew how I felt, and you both know I’d kill you in your sleep if you ever breathed a word.”

Charlotte gasped. “You don’t think we—”

“No, of course I don’t.” Charlotte and Franco were the two people Lani trusted most in the world. They were “her people,” and she was theirs. “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, even if you had,” She went on. “I mean, the world won’t care what I might have felt for him, because Baxter doesn’t care. It’s certainly not newsworthy now. Yes, he made my professional life utter hell for the better part of three years—which I signed on for—and yes, he never once stepped up to defend me when the personal gossip started. Not once. But, though I hated it, and it hurt, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that he didn’t. Baxter is notoriously, completely oblivious to anything not in his own personal line of interest. So, I’m equally sure he had no idea what kind of hell my life was then, and I’d certainly like to believe he doesn’t have a single clue about the hornet’s nest he’s stirring up coming down here now. I can’t imagine he’d intentionally do something so—”

“Heartless?” Franco said.

About Donna Kauffman:

Donna Kauffman is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 70 novels, translated and sold in more than 26 countries around the world. Born into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., politics, she now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she is surrounded by a completely different kind of wildlife. A contributing blogger for, she is also a DIYer, a baker, a gardener and a volunteer transporter for the Wildlife Center of Virginia and Rockfish Sanctuary. Please visit her online at


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Average Customer Review

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Customer Review

OH MY OH MY It's about to get hot in here!! (Saturday, December 31, 2011)
Reviewer: Toni S

4.5 Stars!!

I will try not to add too many food comments and antidotes to my review, but be warned it might happen, because this is one SWEET story. Darn, it already happened!

Leilani “Lani” Trusdale had it all in New York. She had a wonderful career as Executive Chef at Gateau and amazing friends. She gave it all up the moment her father had a health scare. Now she can’t be happier. She is living the American dream of bring her own boss. Her life has calmed down and relaxed, but that is all going to change. Lani’s ex boss is coming to town and things are going to get a bit hot in the kitchen.

Baxter Dunne is a mega star. He has the golden touch and always gets what he wants and he wants Lani. He knew all along that she special, but didn’t realize how much until she left him and his restaurant ten months ago. Now he is on a mission. He wants her back in his life, any way he can have her.

Lani is a new woman and she is someone that Baxter doesn’t recognize but is still unwilling to give up. She is strong willed and resolute to not allow him back in her life. Lani has had feelings for Baxter pretty much from the moment she met him. Now that she has a life and career away from him, she believes he has no place in hers. Baxter is just as determined to change her mind.

What a wonderful roller coast Lani and Baxter has taken me on. While I was reading I couldn’t see how they were ever going to be together. Ms. Kauffman did a fabulous job keeping me on my toes and kept me clueless until the very end. Their love story was entertaining and enchanting at the same time.

Lani was one tough cookie to crack. She wasn’t about to give Baxter a single inch and I enjoyed it when she blew his condescending views out of the water. I loved him all the more for his hard work and determination to win her heart. At times I wanted to dislike him, but then he would open up and I could see his reasoning behind his past and present actions.

I also really enjoyed the addition of the recipes in the back of the book and that a blog for this series has been developed. What a fun way to continue the joy of cupcakes.

So to wrap it up…I truly loved this book. It was well written and executed. A superb plot line that was entertaining and delish. Yes, I know I slipped in a few food references, but once you read this delectable tidbit of sweet romance you will wonder how I refrained so well.

Sugar Rush is not to be missed, just like Ms. Kauffman’s Gingerbread Cupcakes in the back of the book. Hurry - rush out and get this book. Don’t forget to stop at the grocery store for your baking supplies, because this book and these two characters are going to make you want to do some cooking both inside the kitchen and out. Cupcakes have never been this sexy!

sugar rush (Monday, November 28, 2011)
Reviewer: julie barrett

Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman
Lani has studied under the best chefs and business people. Although she did not sleep her way to the top that's where she is.

She relocated to an island off Georgia and just in time for the festival. Now she learns the ones who mentored her are going to be back in her life again with cooking TV shows from the island she lives on.

She checks in with her girlfriend who's still in NY at least once a day to go over their thoughts as to why
he is there, what she has to do with it and when he will be leaving.

A few of the local gossip people take it upon themselves, along with her dad, to help her get over her old mentor
and/or to try to move them together.

Her aprons, I'd love to have just one of them, they are priceless to say the least.

How in the world is Baxter, her mentor going to get her to loan him her kitchen at cakes by the cup (her combinations of flavors she eats, breaths and loves cupcakes) going to get her to loan her kitchen to him for upcoming shows-the ones that will start taping in 2 hours time.

She takes Baxter out to the beach while they discuss the tv schedule and she tells him everything she's learned about his boyhood years and he tells her everything he knows
about her years.
oh just perfect: a cupcake therapy club, who knew LOL
Really appreciate all the behind the scenes of how a TV cooking show is done, love the angles and why.

They have a fast paced whirlwind romance, she travels with him for business, then he's gone for weeks on end. Back to the grindstone.

She is so miserable without him in her life now. If only there was a happy medium for both of them.

I rate this book a 5, it has recipes for the different cupcakes mentioned, and their corresponding frostings.

Can't wait to read the next in this series.

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