Halloween is just around the corner, and the denizens of Moonbright, Maine know how to celebrate. Jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, and even a parade ring in the season— and for a lucky few, there just might be a hint of magic in the air. Three budding romances. Three novellas. One magical bakeshop.
Bree works in her family’s bakery, Bellaluna’s, where the secret ingredient is magic. Among all the mouth-watering treats that they regularly dish out rests a special cookie that can nudge would-be couples together. Though Bree has tried to perfect the recipe, her attempts have always come up short … but then Caleb, a visiting restaurateur, steps in and gets a taste of her latest creation.
Author Donna Kauffman is tasked with opening the collection, setting up the hook that pulls each of these three stories together. It’s a delicious treat. Though there is a certain level of love at first sight between Bree and Caleb, Kauffman balances it with plenty of tension. Both are hesitant to rush into a relationship, and an interesting twist forces them to think outside of themselves. Charming without drifting into saccharine, it’s a perfectly sweet opening.
Love Spells Disaster
Cassie knows what she wants, and right at the top of her list is a date with her boss. Armed with two cookies from Bellaluna’s, she has the perfect plan. However, she’s thwarted when Chip, perhaps the complete opposite of her boss, helps himself to one of the treats. But it’s hard to stay angry at him when he agrees to help her build her dream haunted house.
Author Allyson Charles just might thrive off of complicated characters. Some of Cassie’s judgments of Chip are harsh, and there are moments when she’s downright unlikable. And yet, Charles skillfully allows her to grow and change, ultimately leading to a satisfying conclusion. It’s a remarkable journey in only a few short pages. With some clever character work mixed with genuinely funny scenes, this makes for a fun and brief entry.
Sweet on You
Getting dumped was not how Lara wanted to start her day. Toss in an increase in her rent and an unsustainable job and things might not be able to get much worse. However, after a trip to Bellalun’s, she scores a new job working for Mayor Jack Hanson— planning the Halloween parade. But as the two work to create the most memorable Halloween celebration Moonbright has ever seen, old feelings are stirred up.
While each of the three stories features the community, this one goes all-in. The Halloween parade is the pinnacle of Moonbright’s festivities, and the planning process leads to some heartwarming revelations about residents. Author Kate Angell has perfected the feel-good romance, with Lara and Jack gradually forming a realistic connection by working on something that benefits others. With plenty of callbacks to the first two stories, this is the perfect wrap-up.
Title: The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice
Authors: Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, & Allyson Charles
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.